Hollow Triumph, 1948. 9/10

An excellent noir thriller. Great acting, plotting, and, especially, great atmosphere. Everything seems to happen at night; in alleys with trucks hurtling inches away like blind monsters, in seedy hotel rooms furnished with mirrors and shadows, and up and down stairways, fire escapes, and tramways.

Heinreid plays the flinty criminal who seems just a half step ahead of his pursuers throughout the film, which, tragically, is not quite enough to save him. As in the best noir films, fate toys with the protagonist. The murder of the doctor, Heinreid’s doppelganger, backfires–far from insulating him from retribution, it proves unnecessary, multiplying the danger facing him. The murder scene sets up with a montage of haunting images flashing through Heinreid’s mind as he drives the doctor to a remote bridge to ditch his body.

Joan Bennett, with her droll, world-weary manner, ably reflects the cynical noir tone. Nonetheless, she also represents a redemptive quality which Heinreid eventually realizes he needs. The last scene shows his quest for her love derailed, as the underworld goons finally catch up with him. She was able to escape his world because she never quite let it overwhelm her. 9/10.

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