Saturday, January 2, 2010

Decent mystery ruined by not-as-clever
as all that writers

The Limping Man (1953)
Starring: Lloyd Bridges, Moria Lister, Alan Wheatley, and Helene Cordet
Director: Cy Endfield
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A WW2 vet, Frank Prior (Bridges), travels to England to reunite with his wartime sweetheart (Lister). As he leaves the plane at the airport, a fellow passenger is gunned down. When the investigating Scotland Yard inspector (Wheatley) discovers a connection between Prior's sweetheart and the dead man, he becomes suspicious of both of them, so Prior sets about to uncover the truth.

I have tried, but I am unable to think of another movie I've seen that is so utterly and completely ruined by an incompetent ending the way "The Limping Man" is destroyed. The ending here is so lame that it spoils whatever enjoyment the viewer may have been deriving from what seemed like an average thriller that was building toward a decent conclusion. The ending is so thoroughly botched--on every conceivable level--that I can't even say "stop the DVD player at THIS point, and you'll preserve what you liked about this film".

The first sign of trouble is an illogical plot-twist that relates to the blackmail effort directed at Prior's thrill-seeking sweetheart. It's the sort of twist that makes you wonder if perhaps the filmmakers were in trouble as far as coming up with a good ending. This is confirmed when the second twist presents itself, and pretty much undoes the entire story. (I can't go into details without revealing the ending, but, believe me, it will ruin the film for you.)

If there ever was a movie that could have been saved by a competent writer handling rewrites, "The Limping Man" is it. And if you've seen it, and if you know of another otherwise decent film so completely ruined by its ending, I'd love to hear about it.

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