Also known as: The Scar (working title), The Man Who Murdered Himself (reissue title)
Release Date: August 18th, 1948 (Reading, PA premiere)
Directed by: Steve Sekely
Written by: Daniel Fuchs
Based on: Hollow Triumph by Murray Forbes
Music by: Sol Kaplan
Cast: Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett
Bryan Foy Productions, Eagle-Lion Films, 83 Minutes
“It’s a bitter little world full of sad surprises, and you don’t let anyone hurt you.” – Evelyn Hahn
Hollow Triumph came out at the height of film-noir but it wasn’t a major studio release. It came out form one of those Poverty Row film houses, the UK based Eagle-Lion Films.
Although, in regards to noir, Eagle-Lion had an incredible track record and made some of the best movies in the style: Raw Deal, He Walked by Night and the semidocumentary styled T-Men.
Hollow Triumph, also known as Scar and The Man Who Murdered Himself, had the benefit of casting Joan Bennett, who already starred in the Fritz Lang film-noir classics The Woman In the Window and Scarlet Street. This film also got John Alton to handle its cinematography, he would go on to handle the cinematography for Raw Deal, just after this, and that is a film that is highly regarded for its visual look. Even though this isn’t Raw Deal, the film still looks magnificent.
John Muller (Paul Henreid) is a medical school dropout but he is also a savvy criminal. He orchestrates a holdup but things go awry. Evil gambler Rocky Stansyck puts Muller in his crosshairs but Muller is able to take on a new identity as a psychiatrist that looks an awful lot like him. There are some typical film-noir swerves and a lot of irony thrown into the mix.
While the story plays out well and is decently constructed, there are a lot of things in the film that seem way too convenient. If you can get passed that, you’ll find the film enjoyable and entertaining.
This is a better than decent thriller. The acting is pretty good and I have always liked Joan Bennett but that could be due to my adoration of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, three decades after this. Regardless, Bennett always has a strong presence that sort of commands attention and draws you in. Her role here is no different.
I was glad that this was featured on TCM’s Noir Alley because it may have been quite some time until I discovered this on my own. There are a lot of film-noir pictures out there and even though I’ve seen well over a hundred of them, I still uncover ones worthy of more recognition than they have. This is one of those movies.
Pairs well with: Other similar films from Eagle-Lion: T-Men, Raw Deal and He Walked by Night.