The Limping Man

Director: Cy Endfield
(as Charles de Lautour)

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

I rather like Lloyd Bridges from his old Sea Hunt series so I was looking forward to seeing him in his primary film noir stint, The Limping Man (1953). Sad to say, he doesn't catch the screen on fire, & the sparks between him & his leading lady Moira Lister are more like fizzles.

The Limping ManIt's the tale of an American soldier returning to England six years after the war hoping to reignite a wartime romance. He discovers that in his absence, Pauline has gotten involved with a gangster (Bruce Beeby) who was killed by a sniper on the airport tarmack, standing right beside our hero.

Scotland Yard is suspicious of the coincidence of the murder occurring right beside Pauline's other boyfriend, but there's no further connection to be made, so the Yard mainly warns him off hanging out with the gangster's moll. Which advice he wholeheartedly ignores.

The assassin was the Limping Man (Andre Van Gyseghem) who turns out to be the doorman at a local cabaret, where the dead gangster's semi-estranged wife cum widow works as a singer with such a heavy accent plus speech impediment that it is almost impossible to tell what are the lyrics of the two songs she sings, & only slightly easier to understand her dialogue. She is played by French singer Helene Cordet, whose attempt at a film career went nowhere because she's more strange looking than attractive, & as an imitation Marlene Dietrich she falls far short.

The Scotland Yard inspector (Alan Wheatley) & politely horndog sidekick detective (Leslie Phillips) are well played & somewhat steal the show from the tepid leads Bridges & Lister. The Cabaret scenes are also fun, especially a campy little performance by Charles Bottrill who dances on a giant xylophone. A number of fine British character actors populate the background.

The story unfolds with a few twists that hold one's attention, though nothing powerful. The whole thing might've come off pretty effective if only it had a good pay-off at the end. Unfortunately it has what may well be the cheatingest & dumbest ending that could possibly be concocted.

The phony climax is so bad that it will make some viewers angry that they even bothered to stick it out to the end. Had there been a real climax for The Limping Man, it would've scored a passing grade, if only just.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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