John Muller, medical school dropout and brilliant crook, plans a holdup which goes a little bit wrong, and finds vindictive gambler Rocky Stansyck after him. At the end of his tether, he stumbles onto a lucky chance to assume an impenetrable new identity as psychiatrist Victor Bartok. But irony piles on as Muller finds it's out of the frying pan, into the fire. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Terrific hard-boiled double-identity thriller in the noir genre
Paul Henreid produced this film in which he starred, eerily portraying a totally amoral man who does not see anything at all wrong with the occasional murder, as long as he 'needs to do it'. John Bennett delivers an equally powerful performance of a woman who, although not good, is certainly not bad, and it is curious that this study of a woman's fixation on a bad man through infatuation was made in the same year as 'Force of Evil' which showed an even more extreme form of that. It must have been 'beauty and the beast' year. The ingenious plot concerns a double-identity, so there are two major threads of intrigue going on at once. Needless to say, Joan Bennett is involved with both Henreids, but prefers the baddie because he is more spellbinding and, let's face it, far from boring. This is a well-directed, sometimes brutal, atmospheric thriller which is something of a lost classic. It is now available on DVD under its alternative title of 'The Scar', which is a most unfortunate title, as people don't like scars (even though there is one in the story). Joan Bennett was really made for these films, as she proved in 'The Woman in the Window' and 'Scarlet Street' for instance. There is something ambiguous about her, something hard that is soft, you can't quite figure her. That's just right for noir. You should never be able to figure noir, everything should stay in the shadows where it belongs. The thing about a good thriller like this is, the mystery goes beyond the story itself and becomes the mystery of people themselves, what is it that goes on inside heads, those impenetrable citadels of secrets.
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