Strange Impersonation

Brenda Marshall (seemingly observing her own facial reconstruction operation) in Strange Impersonation (dir. Anthony Mann, 1946).

Hillary Brooke lets in the noir.

A spirited early Mann thriller, and it would be truly noteworthy if--consider yourself warned--someone hadn't decided at some point not to bother writing a real ending. It's low-budget, but does a good job of straining past its limitations with fluid camerawork and inventive staging. The leading man, played by William Gargan, is uninspiring, and Brenda Marshall as the main character is mostly effective on an ironic level as a caricature of the independent woman researcher ("Stephen!" she exclaims, as her amorous employer/fiance attempts a passionate embrace: "Remember science!"). But Hillary Brooke is a fine femme fatale, and there are good supporting performances, notably from George Chandler as an ambulance-chasing lawyer, and Mary Treen as (in the apt words of the IMDb cast listing) "talkative nurse."

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