Mill Creek Musings: The Limping Man (1953)

Frank Pryor (Lloyd Bridges) is an American soldier on a plane bound for London. It has been six years since he last visited the city. As the passengers step off of the plane, Frank asks the stranger behind him for a light. Just a moment later, a sniper’s shot kills the stranger.

(Image via World Worth Watching)

(Image via World Worth Watching)

Naturally, as a witness to the crime, Frank is questioned by Scotland Yard inspectors. Frank is honest with them, saying that he never knew the man and was only trying to get his cigarette lit.

Investigators discover that the killed passenger was carrying forged papers when he was killed, but this is of little interest to Frank, who truly knew nothing about the man. Investigators allow Frank to leave, knowing that he’ll be in London for a few months to visit an old friend, and can be reached if necessary.

Frank’s friend — and old love with whom he hopes to rekindle a romance — is Pauline French (Moira Lister), an actress. She never arrived at the airport to pick him up. He calls her apartment, and she’s not home. Something fishy is going on!

When investigators visit the victim’s home, they discover that the mysterious woman seen in a photograph found with the body is none other than Pauline French.

How is Pauline involved with the crime? Will there be consequences for Frank when the investigators discover that he and the victim had a mutual friend?

The Limping Man was directed by Cy Endfield under the pseudonym of Charles de Lautour. The film was scripted by Ian Stuart Black and Reginald Long, adapted from a novel.

The Limping Man features fine performances. None of them are ultra-captivating, but they’re well-suited to the film’s fairly dark mood and mysterious story.

Moira Lister is my favorite part of the cast, playing a character who loves spending time outdoors, with hobbies such as boating and sport shooting. She’s a mysterious woman, with the viewer never quite sure whether she could have played some part in the killing. She doesn’t seem evil, but she does react strangely when she first learns of the shooting, and at one point has a mysterious meeting with someone in a pub. The viewer doesn’t know whether to trust her, thanks to both the script and Lister’s solid performance.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

The relationship between Frank and Pauline is also interesting to watch. It seems a bit deeper than the usual noir “femme fatale spider, and unwitting man trapped in her web” pairing. Frank just wants the truth, and he’s willing to support Pauline no matter what that truth is. Bridges and Lister do a very good job of convincing the viewer that they’ve known each other for years and truly care about each other, happy to be reunited after years apart despite all of the criminal drama surrounding them.

The Limping Man is a decent British “B”-picture. With nice performances and a mystery that actually takes a surprising turn or two, the film is certainly worth a watch for fans of crime drama. The score: 3.5/5

This film appears in Mill Creek’s 50 Dark Crimes set as well as the Nifty Fifties set. (I own both of these and watched the film from Nifty Fifties.) The Limping Man is also available for download at the Internet Archive.

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