Interesting low budget noir that hurts itself badly with a “plot twist.”
If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know I’m pretty easy to please as a movie fan. I like a lot of things and seem to “love” even more, so it takes a lot to disappoint me. After watching Three Steps North and perusing Lloyd Bridges’ filmography, I watched The Limping Man (1953) and really enjoyed it up until the last few minutes when it stopped playing fair. It starts on a plane as Bridges is returning after 6 years away at war. No sooner does he land and deplane than a fellow passenger is gunned down by a sniper right as Bridges stops him to ask for a light.
In the process of Scotland Yard’s investigation, strange little overlaps and interconnections arise, like the photo in the dead man’s pocket of the very same woman Bridges was expecting to pick him up at the airport (Moira Lister). Bridges has an impatient, defensive, nervous attitude that makes the detectives and the viewer suspect he knows a lot more than he’s saying. Or maybe he was the intended victim, which might cross your mind once you see how coolly Lister treats him and tries to get rid of him, and did I mention she also happens to have a trophy for her sharpshooting skills?
All these little pieces and clues get scattered about and in good faith you get to work piecing them together, adding to the puzzle the cabaret singer whose picture is in the dead man’s apartment, and who identifies his body, and that limping man who must be important since he’s mentioned in the title, also Lister’s new speedboat she’s suddenly eager to sell, a secret meeting in a pub, and a surprise figure who blackmails Lister. Some of the pieces just don’t fit no matter how you search and turn and try to pound them in there, and when you find out why it makes you want to just flip the table over and toss the whole thing.
Some pieces were good, (I told you I was hard to disappoint) things like Moira Lister’s performance, one you might get if you crossed Nina Foch with Anne Baxter, the entertaining musical numbers by Helene Cordet, the noir look here and there and the London riverside, and the presence of Alan Wheatley and Leslie Phillips as the inspectors who toss some amusing snark and ogling into the mix. The more you think about it, the more the ending actually does explain some of the weirder plot twists, strange coincidences and Bridges’ confusion, so if you don’t mind putting time into playing along for the fun of it, and doing an OK puzzle that was never meant to be completed then you might enjoy this.