This early Hammer effort, released in May 1952, shows that one does not need a lot of money to make a good film. The plot is entertaining enough (plastic surgeon reconstructs the face of the woman he loves on a prisoner soon to be released), and Terence Fisher maintains pace and interest throughout the film - which deals with themes that Fisher would explore in more depth in his Hammer Frankenstein series. Paul Henreid plays the doctor with class and poise, but Lizabeth Scott is totally miscat in the double part of Lily and Alice (aka the lover who is a concert pianist, and the prisoner). Scott is much more of a film noir figure and cannot be credible as a high-profile classical musician but this should not derail you from having a good time. The bonus on this DVD is a very entertaining short produced by Hammer in 1959 and featuring the gorgeous Honor Blackman: "Danger List". Overall, a recommended DVD.
Stolen Face is directed by Terence Fisher and adapted to screenplay by Martin Berkeley and Richard H. Landau from a story by Alexander Paal and Steven Vas. It stars Paul Henreid, Lizabeth Scott and André Morell. Music is by Malcolm Arnold and cinematography by Walter J. Harvey.
After meeting and falling in love with pianist Alice Brent (Scott), plastic surgeon Dr. Philip Ritter (Henreid) is crushed when she leaves him and reveals she's engaged to another man. Upon being introduced to facially disfigured female convict Lily Conover (Mary Mackenzie), Ritter decides to reconstruct her face to look exactly like Alice...
One of Hammer Film Productions ventures into B grade noir territory, Stolen Face is deliciously bonkers! Set up takes thirty minutes as couple meet in the lovely surroundings of an English country inn, they have whirlwind love and all is lovely and jaunty. Woman runs off to her other life, doctor doesn't think straight and obviously gets more than he bargained for when giving a Pygmalion make over to someone who he himself calls "an ugly social misfit". Original woman comes back into the picture, just as the good doctor's life is in turmoil, and we hurtle to a finale that is going to end bad for one of the three principals.
Ultimately, and if anyone is taking it seriously then they may need some sort of corrective surgery themselves, it's a fun cheapie that lacks the social nous of Behind the Mask (1941), or the psychological smarts of Vertigo (1958). It's driven by its gimmick and nothing else, Henreid and Scott play it right, the latter an American noir darling having fun in the dual role, while it serves as a learning curve for Fisher who would become one of Hammer's greatest horror directors some years later.
Not very noir in reality, certainly visually, and not very memorable all told. But still a decent enough time waster for those who enjoy those sort of mad premise movies that had a glint in their eye. 6/10