The British-based production company Hammer Films is best remembered today for its horror entries such as “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957) and “The Gorgon” (1964). But from 1950 to 1955, Hammer also dabbled in crime thrillers. The company’s string of mostly low-rent noirs include “Bad Blonde” starring tragic actress Barbara Payton, “Man Bait” with Diana Dors and “Gambler and the Lady” with Dane Clark.
“Hammer Film Noir: Collector’s Set” (1950, VCI, unrated, $30) brings together six of the dozen or so thrillers Hammer produced in conjunction with American producer Robert L. Lippert.
One of the highlights of the three-DVD set is “Stolen Face,” a 1952 drama directed by Terence Fisher and starring Paul Henreid and Scranton’s Lizabeth Scott.
Both Henreid and Scott were on the downhill slope of their careers by the time they appeared in the movie, a far-fetched but highly watchable thriller about a plastic surgeon (Henreid) who falls in love with a piano player (Scott) only to discover she’s already engaged to someone else.
When Scott dumps Henried, he takes his knife to a tough-talking ex-con and transforms her into a dead ringer for his former lover. When Scott comes back into Henreid’s life and encounters her doppelganger, things get really complicated.
Scott is so good in the movie, she’s a revelation. It’s the only time she played two roles in the same film, and she aces both of them. She’s believable as the emotionally fraught musician and the cockney-accented hard case.
“Stolen Face” isn’t a great film, but if you have a yen for a guilty pleasure treat with a noir twist, it fits the bill very nicely.