Stolen Face (1952) Poster

(1952)

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My 'willing suspension of disbelief' sorta buckled, but....
Hernried25 September 2001
Up front I must admit I am a die-hard Paul Henreid fan, and I want to reassure any potential viewers of this movie that he was professional enough to put as much effort into this role as every other one I have seen him play, despite the fact that he made this film as a blacklisted and (consequently) underpaid actor.

There were basically two things I couldn't believe regarding the plot of this movie: 1)That an intelligent, established, professional man would marry a thievin' Cockney wench even if he did make her look like his lost true love; and 2) That his lost true love, on returning to him, didn't do a mad dash the other way when she found out he had actually made someone else look like her & then married that woman. I mean, isn't that a little twisted or something?

Overall the film was pretty good, & the romance between Henreid & Scott at the B&B truly enjoyable. I thought it delightful the way Henreid nursed Scott through her nasty head cold, & I like seeing a guy who is 6'3" sit on one bar stool with his feet on the next bar stool & look perfectly comfortable. It was only when the plot wanted me to believe the unbelievable that I had some trouble enjoying the film.

Ah, but the ending was pretty darn cute, & worth the 'huh?' I uttered during the dubious parts.
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6/10
Pygmalion story gone horribly wrong is far-fetched premise of Britnoir
bmacv29 August 2001
If cosmetic surgeons could create faces like Lizabeth Scott's at will, they would be making even more than they earn now, or did half a century ago when A Stolen Face hit theaters. (But then the surgically created evil twin has been a staple of pulp movies up to John Woo's Face/Off). On holiday somewhere in England, Paul Henried, as an M.D., meets up with concert pianist (!) Scott. They fall in love, but she's spoken for. Back in grimy postwar London, he finds a patient horribly scarred in the blitz, refashions her into the spit-and-image of Scott, and marries the impudent baggage (a Cockney fadge with one foot in the gutter and the other on a banana peel). Their marriage, for some reason, does not go well. Re-enter Lizabeth Scott, who now has to play a double role.... The movie's not terrible, at least, though these noirish exercises set in Britain always have a fusty, half-hearted feel to them, more a mug of white tea than a snort of bonded Bourbon. Both Scott and Henried were well into the downslope of their careers -- which may, more than the locale, account for the enervated pace and commitment.
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6/10
Lizabeth Scott x2
David (Handlinghandel)15 January 2008
"A Woman's Face" meets "A Stolen Life." Paul Henreid is a famed, highly principled plastic surgeon. We see him refusing to work on a society matron who is beyond his help. He is taken to meet a badly scarred young criminal. She isn't terribly nice but he is intrigued and takes on the case pro bono.

He is then persuaded to take a vacation. On his trip he meets a concert pianist. She is none other than Lizabeth Scott! Well, add to the movies this resembles, though in this case considerably predates, the classic "Vertigo." We can also toss "Pygmalion" int the pot, though Scott is no Wendy Hiller.

I can't give too much away but you can guess who the bad girl ends up looking like after surgery.

Scott is quite good. She given a little more range than some of her other movies gave her and she does well. The rest of the cast is good too.

The movie is, I suppose, film noir. I wouldn't say it's campy. But it is fun.
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7/10
Far-fetched but entertaining
blanche-21 September 2008
Lizabeth Scott has "A Stolen Face" and also has the face that was stolen in this 1952 film also starring Paul Henreid and directed by Terence Fisher. Scott plays a beautiful concert pianist, Alice Brent, who meets Dr. Philip Ritter (Henreid), a plastic surgeon, while he's on vacation. They fall in love, but she leaves suddenly. She's involved with her manager and rather than confront the situation, she just takes off.

Devastated, Ritter returns to his practice, part of which is done at a prison where he reconstructs patients' injured or deformed faces to help them rehabilitate and live better, crime-free lives. One such patient is Lily Conover (Mary Mackenzie), a thief whose face is disfigured on one side. Ritter makes her over to look like Alice Brent and marries her. Lily, however, can't quite rehabilitate. She feels stifled by the doctor's lifestyle and starts stealing and hanging with her old crowd. Then Alice Brent decides she can't marry her manager and pays Philip a visit.

This film could be considered a camp classic - the story is, but the performances are quite good. Until he returns from vacation, Dr. Ritter is a fine doctor, totally professional and generous. A bad love affair makes him into an obsessed whacko who makes over a thief into the woman he loves and marries her. Go figure. And I agree with one of the comments here - why Alice Brent didn't cut and run when she realized what he did defies imagination.

Scott is older here than in her big noir days but is radiant and beautiful in both roles. She's more animated than in other films and pulls off the Cockney nicely. The only strange thing there was that when the makeover was complete, Lily suddenly had Alice's very distinctive husky voice.

Henried gives a good performance in an impossible role. How do you play a warm, normal, hardworking man who does a complete turnaround with no indication in the script as to where it came from, no tendencies beforehand, no grasping obsession during the affair - and suddenly a patient goes under the knife and emerges Lizabeth Scott. Only in Hollywood. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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7/10
Just suspend disbelief and enjoy
MartinHafer8 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is a British film marketed as a Film Noir movie, though I could see very little about the film that reminded me of this genre. Now this isn't bad and I'm not complaining--after all, I did give the movie a 7. It just doesn't have the tough dialog, moody lighting and camera work as well as the tough subject matter a true Noir film would have.

You might also be a bit surprised to see that it was made by Hammer Studios AND was directed by Terence Fisher--a man and studio known for horror films. Well, there is no sign of Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing in this one as it's just an interesting romantic drama--the type film you would have been more likely to see in the earlier days of the studio.

Paul Henreid and Lizabeth Scott star in this interesting film. However, if you do decide to watch it, try to suspend your sense of disbelief, as the film has a plot that couldn't possibly happen in real life! Henreid is a very skilled plastic surgeon whose mission in life is to correct facial deformities in criminals. He reasons that given a new face, they can't help but have a more positive attitude towards society and live a crime-free new life. However, he's so dedicated to his work that he's exhausted and is ordered to take a much-needed vacation. There, he meets the girl of his dreams, Lizabeth Scott. They are very much in love but she has some secret. Before finally telling him, she disappears and Henreid is disconsolate.

Now here's where it gets really tough to swallow. Henreid's next surgery is a weird one, as he deliberately makes this habitual criminal look exactly like Scott! Now making her with some similarity is believable, but to be the exact twin was just plain silly. They can't do that today and they certainly couldn't have done it in 1952! Despite Henreid's belief that this lady will become a good person and a good wife, after marrying her she turns out to be a hard-living kleptomaniac--with no desire for redemption. Now at this point it even gets weirder--Scott shows up and both she and Henreid want to marry--but he's stuck with the criminal wife. What happens next you'll need to see for yourself.

The plot, though silly, was still very watchable and cool. I really liked every moment but also assure you that the film never really goes the Noir route--especially the ending.

By the way, one reviewer went on about how he hated Ms. Scott. While she was never one of my favorites, I really think this film was a wonderful showcase for her--letting her play two totally different characters--one a criminal with an English accent and the other a sophisticated American concert pianist. She did a very good job and the film, for its budget, was very good.
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6/10
Make Over Madness.
Spikeopath25 August 2013
Stolen Face is directed by Terence Fisher and adapted to screenplay by Martin Berkeley and Richard H. Landau from a story by Alexander Paal and Steven Vas. It stars Paul Henreid, Lizabeth Scott and André Morell. Music is by Malcolm Arnold and cinematography by Walter J. Harvey.

After meeting and falling in love with pianist Alice Brent (Scott), plastic surgeon Dr. Philip Ritter (Henreid) is crushed when she leaves him and reveals she's engaged to another man. Upon being introduced to facially disfigured female convict Lily Conover (Mary Mackenzie), Ritter decides to reconstruct her face to look exactly like Alice...

One of Hammer Film Productions ventures into B grade noir territory, Stolen Face is deliciously bonkers! Set up takes thirty minutes as couple meet in the lovely surroundings of an English country inn, they have whirlwind love and all is lovely and jaunty. Woman runs off to her other life, doctor doesn't think straight and obviously gets more than he bargained for when giving a Pygmalion make over to someone who he himself calls "an ugly social misfit". Original woman comes back into the picture, just as the good doctor's life is in turmoil, and we hurtle to a finale that is going to end bad for one of the three principals.

Ultimately, and if anyone is taking it seriously then they may need some sort of corrective surgery themselves, it's a fun cheapie that lacks the social nous of Behind the Mask (1941), or the psychological smarts of Vertigo (1958). It's driven by its gimmick and nothing else, Henreid and Scott play it right, the latter an American noir darling having fun in the dual role, while it serves as a learning curve for Fisher who would become one of Hammer's greatest horror directors some years later.

Not very noir in reality, certainly visually, and not very memorable all told. But still a decent enough time waster for those who enjoy those sort of mad premise movies that had a glint in their eye. 6/10
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8/10
"A sign of things to come."
jamesraeburn200318 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A London plastic surgeon called Philip Ritter (Paul Henreid) falls in love with American concert pianist Alice Brent (Lizabeth Scott) while on holiday in rural England. However, Alice is already engaged to be married to the well-to-do David (Andre Morell). Devastated, Ritter returns to London and is called upon to perform a charitable operation on a disfigured convict called Lily (Mary Mackenzie), whose face he recreates in Alice's image. Ritter then marries Lily thinking that her new face will cure her criminal tendencies, but this results in disastrous circumstances.

Before Hammer and director Terence Fisher reinvigorated the horror genre with their colour remakes of Frankenstein and Dracula, their main source of output was b-features, most of which were in the crime thriller genre and often featured American stars who were past their prime to bolster international sales. In Stolen Face, ex-1940's stars Paul Henreid and Lizabeth Scott were hired. Scott came to prominence after she appeared alongside Kirk Douglas in "The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers" (1946) and later Humphrey Bogart in "Dead Reckoning" (1947). The latter part saw her being compared to Lauren Bacall. However, by the 1950's, good parts worthy of her talents were proving difficult to come by and she made few films from there on. Henreid had appeared in such Hollywood milestones as "Casablanca" (1942) before he faded from the public eye.

Stolen Face is a very interesting film in that it marks a notable point for both Hammer and Fisher (here making his third picture for the company). The plot hints at some of the themes that they would focus on in their subsequent horror films. For instance, the premise of the surgeon transforming the disfigured girl into a beauty was exploited in more detail in the sublime "Frankenstein Created Woman" (1967). In this film Baron Frankenstein and his assistant cured Christina Kleeve's disfigurement but also transfered the soul of her lover (wrongly executed for murder) into her body. The result was a archetypal blonde beauty and seductress who then proceeded to seduce and kill the men who sent her boyfriend to the guillotine. The difference between Stolen Face and "Frankenstein Created Woman" is that the former was only treated as a domestic melodrama and had little to give conviction to it's absurdness, but the latter had a genuine Gothic fairy tale quality that transcended the daftness of the plot. There are also echoes of "The Revenge Of Frankenstein" (1958) in that both Philip Ritter and Baron Frankenstein both did charity work as well as running their own surgeries. And it was through this charity work that they acquired the raw materials for their own ends. It is also interesting to compare the two characters in that both Ritter and Frankenstein (although from different societies) believed that they could both create the perfect human being in their own way, but as in both cases something went drastically wrong. For instance, in "The Revenge Of Frankenstein", the creature became a disfigured dwarf although the Baron performed the operation on his hunchback assistant as a favour and for his own misguided reasons. The same applies to Ritter as he took pity on Lily's disfigurement and at the same time did it for his own ends. Another similarity is that both doctors were both so obsessed with what they were doing to understand the terrible consequences that would result.

In conclusion, Stolen Face can be seen as a run of the mill medical melodrama, but for those who have followed Hammer's output from the very beginning, it is possible to see that it paved the way for Hammer to do better things within a decade or so after this was made. The film also supports the theory that when a subject met with Fisher's approval, he would give the film all he had to give to it. Yet when he disliked a subject such as the science fiction film "Night Of The Big Heat" (1967), everything was indifferently done. Stolen Face is by no means a perfect film as Henreid is miscast as Dr Ritter and Andre Morell is rather uncomfortable as Alice Brent's boyfriend David. However, Lizabeth Scott is remarkable as once the operation scene is over, she is playing both Lily and Alice and it surprised everyone that she managed to put on a very acceptable cockney accent. The film is rather a routine affair, but it isn't possible to dismiss it as it is one of the very few films of Hammer's early output to show signs of the company's future. However, if Hammer hadn't gone on to do better things, Stolen Face wouldn't have warranted the reassessment that it's getting today let alone a reissue on DVD.
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6/10
Not bad
FilmFlaneur16 May 2009
In 1950, American producer Robert Lippert formed a business alliance with Hammer studios. Under the agreement, Lippert would provide American acting talent - frequently shop-worn stars or just supporting actors who fancied a profitable trip out of the country - while Hammer would supply the rest of the cast and the production facilities. Together they would split the profits. Famous for his concern with the bottom line, Lippert produced over 140 films between 1946 and 1955, characteristically genre pieces such as I Shot Jesse James or Rocketship XM. For the British deal, most of the films were noir-ish thrillers - and include this title.

Stolen Face (1952) offers the characteristic noir idea of loss, or confusion, of identity often through surgery, as seen in the plots of such titles as Dark Passage (1947), or Hollow Triumph (1958). In the present film, which has echoes of both Pygmalion and Vertigo, a plastic surgeon falls in love with a concert pianist during a vacation, thinks he has lost her to another man, and sets to copy her features when restoring the looks of another woman - incidentally a habitual criminal - whom he thereupon marries. If this sounds far fetched, then it is, but is carried of well enough by the two leads Paul Henreid and Lizabeth Scott, who between them produce sympathetic moments enough during early scenes that almost makes one forget limitations elsewhere. Another standout element of this film is the musical score by the late Malcom Arnold. There is also an interestingly ambiguous ending.
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10/10
Loved it!
Ronvalder7 January 2004
I saw it as a child and looked for it on video. Finally got a poor video of it, but i'm glad I own it. I really like this film, maybe it's because I am a big fan of Lizabeth Scott....maybe I like English movies, I don't know...I just like it!!! Yes, this film is dated, but it still works today.
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5/10
Fascinating, if far-fetched, study of the psychology of ugliness...
mark.waltz23 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When famed plastic surgeon Dr. Philip Ritter (Paul Henreid) is visited by a wealthy aging client, he refuses to service her, knowing that her advanced years and already damaged skin would make surgery pointless. He instead prefers the type of surgery necessary to either improve one's life (as in the case of his youthful poor client he has no problem in waiting for payment from) or the embittered career criminal damaged during the war who has psychologically been damaged as well. Lily Conover (Mary Mackenzie) is a woman so embittered by her scarred face that getting out of prison is only a temporary reprieve for, and a return to her life of crime is only a matter of time. He decides to take on her case as he falls in love with the beautiful Alice Brent (Lizabeth Scott), a gentle renowned concert pianist he treats for a bad cold while she is on hiatus from a world tour. When Alice leaves him to continue her tour, he is so broken up by her departure that he utilizes her facial structure to re-make Lily into her image, certain that beauty will change her criminal ways. But you can't turn a rhinestone into a ruby, and after Phillip marries her, he discovers the unfortunate truth, just as Alice returns....

This isn't one of the all-time great film noir, but you can't help but be riveted by the transition of Lily from Mackenzie into Scott. Even her voice all of a sudden changes into that of the sweet Alice (abliet with cockney accent) and it is truly amusing to watch her continue her life of crime even though she really has no reason to. I guess the film is saying that a sow's ear will never become a silk purse, even if it is lined with gold. Trashy she was, and trashy she remains, using her new-found beauty for free love even as she holds onto her abused husband. Scott does utilize a fairly convincing cockney accent as she takes over the role, and there is no denial of who is Lily and who is Alice as their differences in fashion-wear is more obvious. Henreid, who had a similar film ("Hollow Triumph") several years before, shows a variety of emotions as he realizes what a mistake he made and why there is a rule that you never become involved with a patient. This film will never resemble reality, but it is certainly engrossing.
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