It’s a bitter little world.

A great quote, a great T-shirt from a great organization, The Film Noir Foundation, but not exactly a great film, The Scar (aka Hollow Triumph), although I did enjoy it.  Paul Henreid, better known for his sexy foreplay with dual cigarettes in Now Voyager, plays, John Muller, a ruthless criminal with a medical degree in his past.  His big heist of a gambling kingpin’s casino goes awry, and he’s on the run from certain death at the hands of the chief’s thugs.  In a brief case of mistaken identity by a local dentist in another city, he learns of a psychoanalyst, Dr. Bartok, who is his dead ringer – except for a scar on his face.

Joan Bennett plays Bartok’s secretary, a hardened chippie who’s having an affair with the doctor.  Why shouldn’t Johnny take his place?  Muller pursues her with all the confidence that he uses with everything, including his failed heist.  At one point, he rebukes her jokingly:

-You are a bitter little lady.
-It’s a bitter little world.

But he gets her in the end.  Then he decides to knock off the doc and assume his role.  After all, he has some background in analysis himself!  But there’s that scar.

Being a doctor, he knows how to create a perfect match for Bartok’s scar on his own face.  He disguises himself as a photojournalist to get a photo to work with, but the developing service flips the negative – he puts the scar on the wrong cheek!  It’s one of the cleverest touches of this film that we get to watch Muller brazening through this error, relying on his self-confidence as an imposter to make it impossible for people to think anything else but, “I thought it was on the other cheek, but I guess I was wrong…

The DVD I have is low quality, but from the reviews I read on Amazon, it may be the best there is now.  Many commented that the cinematographic achievements of John Alton are totally lost.

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3 Responses to It’s a bitter little world.

  1. Guy Savage says:

    (If you haven’t already seen it) You might want to check out Stolen Face (1952) also with Paul Henreid. Not a great film, but it’s fun to watch Lizabeth Scott.

    • Lichanos says:

      Thanks for the tip. And if you have any interest in comics, you might like Richard Sala. He is a big fan of film noir, as is obvious from his comics, especially his earlier ones. The Human Mole, linked above, is one of my favorites.

  2. Guy Savage says:

    I’ve never been into comics, but I can see why you’d be interested with your art background. Never quite made that connection before…

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