Hammer Film Noir Double Feature, Vol. 2: Stolen Face and Blackout
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A Stolen Face (1952) - A plastic surgeon gives an "extreme makeover" on a prison inmate's face. She becomes a replica of a lover who refused to marry him. He weds the inmate and then finds that the lover who jilted him wants him back! Blackout (1954) - Down-and-out American visits London and meets a beautiful blonde who offers him a fortune to marry her. He quickly agrees, but the next day awakens in an artist's studio covered with blood and his supposed father-in-law's corpse! Bonus Features: Scene Selection| Bios| Trailers| Photo Gallery| Bonus Commentary: The World of Hammer Noir by Richard M Roberts. Specs: DVD9; Dolby Digital; 159 minutes; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1952, 1954; SRP - $14.99.
- "The World of Hammer Noir" by Richard M. Roberts
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First up we have "BLACKOUT" (1954) (87 min. B/W)...under director Terence Fisher, producer Michael Carreras, screenplay by Richard H. Landau, novel by Helen Nielson, Cinematographer Jimmy W. Harvey, music score by Ivor Slaney ...the cast includes Dane Clark (Casey Morrow). Belinda Lee (Phyllis Brunner), Betty Ann Davies (Alicia Brunner), Eleanor Summerfield (Maggie Doone), Andrew Osborn (Lance Gorden), Harold Lang (Travis), Jill Melford (Miss Nardis), Michael Golden (Inspector Johnson), Alfie Bass (Ernie) . . . . . our story has an exceptional cast, with one of my favorite film noir actors Dane Clark, who can get into more trouble in only a few reels of this flick...in this better than average "Brit Noir" our drifter Clark is up to his neck with a frame up, murder suspect, mind games, plus he needs to clear his name in this psychological thriller "Murder by Proxy" was the British title..the beautiful blonde Belinda Lee is throwing 500 pounds around and Clark is the pigeon...where did the blood on his coat come from, and who has been murdered, will he be left holding the bag...don't leave the theatre you're about to find out who's who in this classic film noir plot.
1. Dane Clark (aka: Bernard Zanville)
Date of birth: 26 February 1912 - Brooklyn, New York, USA
Date of death: 11 September 1998 - Santa Monica, California
2. Belinda Lee
Date of birth: 15 June 1935 - Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England, UK
Date of death: 12 March 1961 - near San Bernardino, California
3. Terence Fisher (Director)
Date of birth: 23 February 1904 - London, England, UK
Date of death: 18 June 1980 - Twickenham, London, England, UK
1. Scene selection
3. Photo gallery
4. Bonus comments: The World of Hammer Noir by Richard M. Roberts
Second on the double bill is a Lippert Picture release "STOLEN FACE" (1952) (72 min. B/W)....under director Terence Fisher, producer Anthony Hinds, screenplay by Martin Berkeley and Richard Landau, Walter Harvey (Cinematographer), musical score by Malcolm Arnold ....the cast includesPaul Henreid (Dr. Philip Ritter), Lizabeth Scott (Alice Brent/Lilly), Andre Morell (David), Mary Mackenzie (Lilly), John Wood (Dr. Jack Wilson), Susan Stephen (Betty), Arnold Ridley (Dr. Russell), Everley Gregg (Lady Harringay), Cyril Smith (Alf), Janet Burnell (Maggie), Grace Gavin (Nurse), Diana Beaumont (May), Alexis France (Mrs. Emmett), John Bull (Charles Emmett), Dorothy Bramhall (Miss Simpson), Richard Wattis (Wentworth) . . . . . our story has heroine Lizabeth Scott is playing a dual role, the good, the bad and the ugly...Paul Henreid is believable as the plstic surgeon who can't seem to do anything right, professionally or with his love life...can a different face change a person, or will trouble surface and begin to eat away at the players of this "Film Noir"...is love or murder in the future of the Hammer film crew...don't take another step, as you're eyes are about to be opened and the mystery right in front of your nose... . . .there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there...all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.
1. Paul Henreid (aka: Paul Georg Julius Hernreid Ritter Von Wassel-Waldingau)
Date of birth: 10 January 1908 - Trieste, Austria-Hungary. [now in Italy]
Date of death: 29 March 1992 - Santa Monica, California
2. Lizabeth Scott (aka: Emma Matzo)
Date of birth: 29 September 1922 - Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of death: Still Living
Great job by VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films for releasing the "Hammer Film Noir Vol. 2" (1952), digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more of the same from the '40s and '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment, stay tuned once again with a top notch "Classic Film Noir" that only VCI Entertainment (King of the Serials) can deliver...just the way we like 'em!
Total Time: 159 mins on 2-DVD-Set ~ VCI Home Video KPF 552 ~ (7/25/2006)
A British doctor, a plastic surgeon, (played Paul Henreid last seen leading the anti-fascist resistance as Victor Lazlo in early World War II in the film Casablanca) in post-World War II London working apparently for the National Health Service, and working very hard and diligently, thank you, takes a little vacation to the wilds of coastal England. He winds up in an inn along the way, an inn which also is hosting a beautiful American pianist ready to go on a European tour (played by smoky-voiced Lizabeth Scott) with a cold. Well, naturally, Doc comes to the rescue, and as part of the "cure" they fall head over heels in love. However, Lizabeth is already "spoken for," leaving Doc very unhappy. So back to work he goes with a vengeance.
And that vengeance, as previously, entailed working on the faces of criminal types to give them a chance to change their ways (okay, Doc, if you say so). As part of that work he runs up against a disfigured dregs of the working-class young woman (okay, lumpenproletarian), Lily, whom he thinks that he can help by use of the surgeon's scalpel. After much ado he gives her a new beautiful face, a face that is strangely very, very, very similar to his lost love's. On top of that he goes off and marries her. But here is where things get dicey and the scriptwriter proves to be no Marxist or other believer in the ever upward rise of human progress. Lily, skin beautiful or not, goes back to her old ways "proving" that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Worst Lizabeth comes back; ready to get back into Doc's arms. Fortunately Lily, drunk as a skunk riding on the train with hubby Doc, falls out of the train door (or was she pushed) just as Lizabeth shows up. Very convenient, very convenient indeed although no one is looking to make a court case out of it. Yes I guess beauty is really only skin deep, but no question love can drive you screwy. No question.
There is a fall guy born every minute, especially fall guys who will jump through hoops when they are down on their luck. Especially when said hoops are held by foxy-looking young blonde dames (although they do not have to be blonde, okay). That is the premise that drives much of the film under review, Blackout. That boy meets girl story and the hard fact of life that the just rich, very rich, and super-rich are different, and in this case, very different from you and I.
Now here is the "skinny." Casey (played by Dane Clark) is a down and out American looking, well, looking for something in the post-World War II and he figures London is just as good a place as any to land. Naturally a down and out guy has to figure things out and what better place to do so than at a bar, a bar that just happens to have a fetching and rich blonde damsel in distress, Phyllis (played by Belinda Lee), looking to get married and willing to pay for that status for her own reasons. He accepts, although as fate would have it he winds up with a case of blackout (hence the title of the film) dumped in some doorway groggy for his efforts (and befriended by a very independent starving woman artist who lives on the other side of that door, who is only tangentially connected with the nefarious doings going on). And the chase is on. Why? Phyllis' rich, very rich, father has been murdered that very marriage night and guess who the prime suspect, the numero uno fall guy, is?
Needless to say, patsy or not, this calls for drastic action to recoup his honor (and to stay out of the slammer) by our boy Casey. But, as usual, everybody and their brother (or sister) has a motive, and an ax to grind including that fetching blonde who lured him in. Who to trust (or not trust) while evading the coppers in the black and white dreary streets and cooped-up apartments of 1950s London drives the plot. And what drives the main villain, by the way not the blonde beauty no way although she makes Casey think twice about it a couple of times, is the need to have plenty of dough. That is where that point about the rich being different, very different, comes in and you can watch the film to figure the why of that out.
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