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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Scar, The aka Hollow Triumph (Blu-ray)
Scar, The aka Hollow Triumph (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // April 18, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted April 28, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Also known as The Scar and The Man Who Murdered Himself, Hollow Triumph stars Paul Henreid as John Muller, a med school drop out with a gambling habit. When he decides to swindle a mobster named Rocky Stansyck, he finds that there have been some hitmen sent after him to take care of things. He tries to work a desk job to earn some money but it ends poorly when he punches his boss in the face.

Rather than split to Mexico (he learns that those who have stiffed Stansyck in the past have tried this and not made it back alive) he instead learns of one Doctor Victor Emile Bartok, a psychiatrist who he just happens to be a dead ringer for. John lets himself into Bartok's office where he's promptly kissed by his foxy secretary, Evelyn Hahn (Joan Bennett) who confused him for her boss. He sets her straight and she's charmed by him, but before he splits he swipes a sample of Bartok's hand writing and a recording of his session so that he can go home and basically learn to impersonate him.

There's one physical different between them though, Bartok has a visible scar on his face. Armed with basic medical school knowledge, Muller gives himself an identical scar. From here, he scopes out the garage where Bartok parts, convinces them to give him a job, and then manages to murder him. From here he takes his place, breaking it off with Evelyn beforehand telling her that he has to go off to Paris. Having assumed Bartok's identity he figures he's all set… even Bartok's patients, friends and main squeeze, Virginia (Leslie Brooks), are unable to tell the difference.

What Muller doesn't realize is that he's missed one key detail in his transformation and that maybe his plan isn't quite as fool proof as he thought…

If this isn't the most plausible story ever written that doesn't stop the film from entertaining. Henreid is quite good in the dual role, with neither character coming across as a particularly nice guy (Bartok is playing around behind his woman's back and also a bit of a gambler). He's shifty enough to make it work but still able to come across as plenty suave and charming. He's got a good chemistry with both of the actresses who hang off of his arms at different points in the movie and he looks the part. Leslie Brooks is gorgeous here and fine in her part while Joan Bennett outdoes pretty much everyone in the movie. Part of this is due to the fact that she's got some really choice dialogue here ("I'm sick and tired of being wise, rotten and dirty!") and she delivers it with some serious conviction. We feel for her character, torn as she is in the film, but at the same time it's made pretty clear throughout the movie that she knows what she's getting herself into. Great acting all around here, with supporting efforts from Eduard Franz, John Qualen and a brief cameo from none other than Jack Webb (his film debut) also worth a mention.

The score from Sol Kaplan complements Steve Sekely's tight directing style really nicely while the cinematography from John Alton captures the seedy side of Los Angeles in all its shadowy glory pretty much perfectly.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Hollow Triumph arrives on Blu-ray in 1.33.1 fullframe in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 25GB disc. Thankfully it doesn't look like any noise reduction or edge enhancement has been applied here, at least not to any noticeable degree. As such, this basically looks like film, complete bits and pieces of minor print damage. It's not overwhelming, but it's definitely there in the form of white specks and small scratches. Fine detail is definitely there, though some shots are shot soft intentionally for stylistic reasons, while black levels are good throughout. This is a very nice presentation with good contrast that offers a solid black and white image.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD Mono track sounds pretty decent. Dialogue is easy enough to follow and the score sounds good. Range is understandably limited here but any hiss or distortion that works its way into the mix is minimal and never particularly intrusive. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

Extras:

The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary by Film Noir Historian Imogen Sara Smith, the author of Film Noir Beyond The City. She starts off by talking about the film's multiple titles and how it is fitting for the film's theme of identity and then goes on to talk about the different contributions of the cast and crew. As the commentary evolves she talks about the film's themes and how they relate to noir, the quality of the cinematography and quality of the dialogue. She also talks about how far-fetched the movie is, the influence of European films on the movie, the quality of the performances and loads more. It's a well-paced and equally well-researched track that moves at a good pace and delivers a lot of solid information.

Aside from that we get a few bonus trailers, static menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Hollow Triumph is a solid noir thriller aided by a strong cast and some absolutely gorgeous cinematography. The film offers Paul Henreid to play a noticeably darker role than most will associate with him but he does it very well while Joan Bennett steals almost every scene she's in. Kino's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good and contains an interesting commentary track as its main extra feature. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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