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Hollow Triumph

Hollow Triumph(1948)

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After serving a jail sentence, gangster John Muller is offered a job by his parole officer at the Meiklejohn company in Los Angeles. Before he settles down, John is anxious to perform one more heist, and convinces his former gang to help him rob a gambling house owned by rival mobster Rocky Stansyck. While escaping with the cash, gang members Big Boy and Rosie are caught by Stansyck, but John and his friend Marcy escape. Marcy, who is terrified that Stansyck's men will hunt him down and kill him, moves to Mexico, while John accepts the job at Meiklejohn. Later John's brother Frederick tells him that Marcy was murdered in Mexico City and that Stansyck's men have tracked John to Los Angeles. One day while running an office errand, John is mistaken for a psychologist named Victor Bartok, who, except for a scar on his face, could easily pass as John's double. John immediately visits Bartok's office, where his secretary, Evelyn Hahn, greets him with a passionate kiss, mistaking him for Bartok. After realizing her error, Evelyn, who has given up on finding true love, agrees to go out with John, even though she is seeing Bartok. When John returns to the office, he gets into a fight with his superior over his absence, and is fired. In the next few weeks, while he is dating Evelyn, John steals one of Bartok's canceled checks from the office to practice forging his signature, rehearses Bartok's voice from taped sessions with his patients, and studies their case histories. Finally, John tells Evelyn he is moving to Paris and plots Bartok's murder. After noticing that Bartok parks his car at the Clover Garage when he goes to the opera, John gets a job as a garage attendant. He then takes a photograph of Bartok in order to match the scar on his face. The negative is developed backward, however, and John mistakenly cuts into the wrong cheek. The weeks pass as the scar forms, and one night, after Bartok returns from the opera, John strangles him in his car before discovering that he has scarred the wrong side of his face. The following night, John meets Bartok's unsuspecting wife Virginia when he and Evelyn go out to a gambling club Bartok frequented called Maxwell's. Meanwhile, John's brother Freddie goes looking for John at Clover Garage and is told that during his last night on the job, John disappeared for four hours after bringing Bartok his car. When Freddie sees John emerge from Bartok's inner office, he blurts out in front of Evelyn that "Bartok" is his brother. John, however, maintains his impersonation, and Freddie is fooled into thinking he really is the doctor. Freddie tells "Bartok" that the man who was after his brother was arrested on an income tax charge and will soon be deported. Deducing John's situation, a distraught Evelyn runs home and buys a steamship ticket to Honolulu. John follows her and they argue. After hitting Evelyn, John promises to renew her faith in love and join her on the boat. Later as Evelyn waits onboard, John is attacked by two thugs from Maxwell's, who accuse him of welching on his gambling debt. Although John insists he is not Bartok, the men shoot him when he tries to escape. As John limps toward the departing boat and collapses on the dock, Evelyn tearfully goes inside, believing John has deserted her.