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Monday, December 22, 2008

STRANGE IMPERSONATION (1946)


Ultra low-budget noir from Republic Studios has a ludicrous storyline, but is moderate fun thanks to an evenly matched cast of mid-level names (Brenda Marshall, William Gargan, Lyle Talbot, H. B. Warner) and more than a modicum of style from rising helmer Anthony Mann, who frames & chiaroscuros to beat the band. Marshall plays a research scientist more interested in her new anaesthetic than in fiancé Gargan. (Smart girl!) But when she's out cold, testing her new serum on herself, her spunky assistant (Ruth Ford) reveals her true colors by ruining her boss's looks and usurping her life. Fortunately, a transparent sub-plot allows the scripters to rig a swapped identity revenge twist . . . and that goes wrong, too! LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN/'45 is the obvious ‘inspiration’ here, but there's only so much Mann can do with this material which also features a lame cop-out ending. Try 1949's delirious IMPACT to see how this formula can be plotted to far better effect even without Mann’s stylish moves behind the camera.

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