Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Limping Man (1953)

The Limping Man is a 1953 British film noir. Well it’s a film noir if you’re prepared to define film noir very very broadly indeed. But it doesn’t matter because actually it’s just an entertaining little 1950 British mystery thriller, the sort of thing the British film industry did so well in those days.

Lloyd Bridges is an engineer who had had an affair with an Englishwoman, an actress named Pauline French. during the war. Now, six years later, he’s flying to London to be reunited with her. Only the reunion doesn’t go quite as expected. She’s not at the airport waiting for him as arranged, and then the guy standing next to him who’s just lit his cigarette for him gets gunned down by a mystery sniper. And when he finally does meet up with his lady love his reception is distinctly on the cool side.

The police are somewhat baffled by the whole affair. The murdered man doesn’t seem to exist. He was carrying documents identifying him as Kendal Brown, but officially there appears to be no such person. But Kendal Brown has quite a reputation anyway, and it’s a rather unsavoury reputation. He seems to have had a taste for crime, and for other men’s wives. He also appears to be linked with Pauline French, and with an entertainer called Helene Castle who does an act with a stage magician.

Smuggling, blackmail and murder are just some of the activities with which Kendal Brown and his unlikely associates are involved.

This is strictly B-movie stuff but it’s well executed. Lloyd Bridges is good as the perpetually puzzled hero who really isn’t sure what he’s go himself mixed up in. Moira Lister is adequate as Pauline. Alan Wheatley and Leslie Phillips are fun as the two very civilised and polite detectives from Scotland Yard.

The 76 minute running time ensures that this movie doesn’t wear out its welcome. The theatre background provides a nice mix of seediness and glamour.

It’s all going along rather well until we get to the ending. At which point you may well feel like hurling a brick at your TV. I know I felt that way. People who end movies in this way should be taken out and shot.

It’s public domain and there are countless copies floating about that you can pick up for a song. My copy is from the Mill Creek 50-movie set called Dark Crimes. It’s a pretty terrible print but since the cost works out at around 40 cents a movie I can’t really complain. And the picture quality is at least watchable.


  1. I saw it on Dark Crimes as well, and I felt pretty much as you did when it ended, though maybe less forgiving afterward.

  2. Why oh why do they end movies this way..... I was so incensed I was going to phone up the dvd distributer and complain, but then i woke up and realised it was all a dream