Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Out In The 1950s Crime Noir Night, Kind Of- Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, Right, “Stolen Face” –A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the film Stolen Face.

DVD Review

Stolen Face, starring Paul Henreid, Lizabeth Scott, Hammer Film Productions, 1952

Love, as almost everybody knows from personal experience, will make you do crazy thing sometimes. It will drive a seemingly rational calm and thoughtful man or woman over edge every once in while. Make “evil” in the world without missing a beat. That, my friends, is the premise behind the film under review, Stolen Face, one of a long line of films that portray the bad results of fooling around with Mother Nature too much, and with getting fogged up in that love embrace.

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.

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