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The Scar (Steve Sekely, USA, 1948, 83 minutes) & The Limping Man (Charles de Latour, UK, 1953, 76 minutes)

Released by a small label in the US, this double bill of so-called ‘classic noir’ has more than a few points of interest. The Limping Man is credited to Charles de la Tour. The whisper is that this is in fact a pseudonym for Cy Endfield the blacklisted American who bolted for Britain after making Tarzan’s Savage Fury in 1952. Immediately prior to that Endfield had made The Sound of Fury a film much admired for its story involving a view about lynching. It was strong stuff and I recall seeing it when David Stratton screened a program about the blacklist and those who were its victims. Endfield worked almost entirely in Britain after that and had a huge success with Zulu (1964). David Thomson credits him with the co-direction of The Limping Man and with that of Impulse (1955) and Child in the House (1956). De Latour is the only one who gets an onscreen credit on The Limping Man though I don’t know what’s written down on the other two. Thomson says he met Endfield in 1992 and went into his history. Whether there is, or Endfield is, Charles de Latour is still a moot point I guess. Endfield’s most admired film is probabl Hell Drivers (1957) which regularly popos up on late night rotation on the ABC.

The Limping Man has quite a bit of narrative oomph for its first 70 or so minutes. In that time Lloyd Bridges plays an American serviceman returning to Britain and hoping to rekindle his war time romance. But things have changed and no sooner has Bridges witnessed an assassination at the airport than he’s off on an incredibly convoluted adventure involving, a setup, faked identity, two faced women, a lugubrious policeman and another with a roving eye, a quite attractive French music hall singer up to no good and Lionel Blair doing a dance number. Breathtaking and all a bit low rent. Then it all turns out to be some dream, a shaggy dog story and everyone marches off happily to their anointed lovers. Gimme a break. Surely they could have thought of something a bit smarter than that.

The Scar is a different kettle of fish. Produced by and starring Paul Henreid, it was made for a poverty row studio and has gone out under two different titles. Maltin lists it as Hollow Triumph (1948). Thomson doesn’t even list it at all in his brief note on Henreid’s career. Clearly the actor thought he was better than just a character player and occasional leading man. Four years after producing this one he began his directing career and over the next fourteen years or so made half a dozen pictures of varying degrees of interest. The Scar is quite involving. Henreid gets out of prison and immediately starts planning a new criminal career. As part of it he gets the opportunity to take over the identity of a dentist. This enables his criminal plans to be pursued but also puts him into a collision course with Joan Bennett. The denouement is quite well worked out and the two leads are good at what they do. Again it’s got below the radar in the entries on Bennett so the film’s resuscitation makes it doubly worthwhile.