Limp

I saw THE LIMPING MAN a couple of years ago, didn’t think I had much to say about it, and let it lie. But since For the Love of Film (Noir), the Film Preservation Blogathon is dedicated to raising funds for Cy Endfield’s previous noir effort, the excoriating SOUND OF FURY, which also starred Lloyd Bridges, I thought it might just be worth mentioning the follow-up effort, a minor affair to be sure, sort of a cinematic afterbirth, but still perhaps of some slight interest.

Unlike his fellow blacklistees John Berry, Jules Dassin and Joseph Losey, Endflied never really got up a head of steam in exile. The triumph of ZULU, regarded as a popular classic in Britain, never led to greater things. And the earlier films are mostly B-grade affairs. THE LIMPING MAN sure is.

Apparently Bridges himself was briefly blacklisted, and he may have made this movie during that period. At any rate, I admire his loyalty in working with Endfield again — he must have known that his previous work for the director was his very best.

THE LIMPING MAN is a sort of paraphrase of THE THIRD MAN, with Bridges flying into the UK and getting embroiled in a cheesy thriller plot. It’s perfectly watchable, and there are a few amusing moments, such as a chase which sees Bridges ducking through somebody’s home, unobserved by the large family who are all glued to their TV. Bridges sits down to join the oblivious gawkers and the bad guys pass through, assuming he must be one of the clan.

Young Leslie (left).

The cast also includes a young Rachel Roberts and a young, impossibly young Leslie Phillips. Best known as a farceur, and for his uniquely honeyed, randy way with the word “Hell-o!”, Phillips is something of a British instiution, loved for his work in several of the CARRY ON and DOCTOR series of cheapjack comedies, and several less worthy works (but he recently costarred in VENUS with Peter O’Toole and has worked with Spielberg, Rafelson, Pollack, Cukor). He’s astonishingly svelte here, and his light comedy touch adds a welcome fresh flavour to the shadowy proceedings.

Endfield shoots his routine material well, shoving Bridges at  his wide lens as often as possible to create an overpowering physicality. It’s not enough to overcome the banality and thinness of the material, but it counts for something, and it means the more promising moments never slip by the director without being fully exploited.

Most remarkable is the ending, which gleefully trashes everything that’s come before it, but it such a strikingly dumb-ass way that it’s almost worth ruining the movie just to deliver such a brazenly bizarre moment. The whole scheme turns out to be a dream Bridges is having on the flight over. As he gets off the plane, looking perplexed, the whole rest of the cast walk by, laughing.

It’s kind of a WIZARD OF OZ moment. “But you were there — and you — and you!” It has no place in a modest little thriller. But it’s BETTER than a modest little thriller.

Endfield’s far superior SOUND OF FURY needs your help! For the Love of Film (Noir): The Film Preservation Blogathon, hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren,  is raising money to restore this important and neglected movie. Donate by clicking below (which ought to WORK now) ~

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13 Responses to “Limp”

  1. […] Cairns returns at Shadowplay with a Cy Endfield/Lloyd Bridges collaboration, The Limping Man, that wasn’t as successful as the film we’re funding. Wednesday, February […]

  2. I actually prefer Endfield’s Sands of the Kahlahari to Zulu. The latter is flashier but the former has an ending congruent with the existential despair of The Sound of Fury

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    Two other names in the cast to conjure with (and considered FABULOUS! when I was growing up in the UK in the late 60)s: Moira Lister and Lionel Blair.

  4. I may have a copy of that somewhere… It has some interesting people in it, for sure.

  5. David Boxwell Says:

    HELL DRIVERS (57) is a gritty working-class noirish drama with Endfield perennial Stanley Baker; and most kids of my generation loved MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (61), with Harryhausen special effects and a great score by Herrmann.

    He didn’t too badly for an exile, but it’s true not much happened after ZULU.

  6. I agree that Hell Drivers is a pretty terrific..lorry noir? Limping Man seems to have limped into public domain, as I found it on a bargain basement dvd. You’re right David, the ending is truly one of the goofiest that I’ve ever seen.

  7. I struggled through his Universal Soldier, which certainly seemed the work of a mind in crisis, and not in a good way. Mysterious Island is REALLY good before it gets to the island, and OK thereafter.

    I second your enthusiasm for Hell Drivers, which has the most amazing collection of acting muscle, with McGoohan’s grotesquerie carrying the day.

  8. Hi, David. Roderick Heath here on the behalf of Ferdy on Films. we’ve been noticing some problems with permalinks to the donation page for the Blogathon and I’ve been asked to scout around our various contributors searching for them. I noticed on pressing your “Donate” logo above that all I got was the picture.

    This is the permalink to use, should anyone care to: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LAWFPAB4XLHAW.

  9. You make me want to see it, if only for the television scene.

  10. My favorite Leslie Phillips performance is in Ken Annakin’s The Fast Lady, but he’s always great fun to watch.

  11. He makes a nice contrast with Bridges’ dogged stoicism. And Bridges’ dogged stoicism is a nice contrast with his ferocity in The Sound of Fury.

    Repaired all my links. Don’t know how I got that wrong. Donate, everybody!

  12. tinkyweisblat Says:

    I quite like your choice here; EVERYBODY has seen/heard of major noirs, but minor noirs are a horse of a different (non) color.

  13. Well, of course there are lots of people who haven’t heard of ANYTHING made before 1977. But I teach a lot of them, so I don’t write for them here!

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