Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett in "Hollow Triumph"

Hollow Triumph (1948) is an American film noir directed by Steve Sekely and starring Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett. The screenplay was by Daniel Fuchs and based on the novel Hollow Triumph (1946). The cinematography is by John Alton. Henreid also produced the film for the newly formed Eagle-Lion Films.

John Muller (Henreid) just released from prison plans a holdup at an illegal casino. Things go wrong so he takes a job in an office to hide out for a while. 

By accident, Muller runs into Dr. Swangron (John Qualen), a dentist who mistook him for Dr. Bartok. The dentist's office is in the same building as Dr. Bartok. When Muller discovers that he really does look like Dr. Bartok, except for a facial scar, he hatches a plan to impersonate him. Along the way, he falls in love with Dr. Bartok's secretary Evelyn Hahn (Bennett).

Will Muller be successful in impersonating Bartok and start a new life with Evelyn or will his past catch up with him?

Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett

Steve Sekely (1899 - 1979) was a Hungarian film director who directed films in Hungarian, German, and English. He mostly directed B movies in the United States and Europe. His most famous film is the science fiction classic The Day of the Triffids (1962) starring Howard Keel.

Paul Henreid (1909 - 1992) was an Austrian-British-American actor, producer, writer, and director. Henreid is probably best known for two films released in 1942: Casablanca and Now, Voyager. Henreid was under contract with Warner Bros. where he was a popular leading man starring opposite the studio's top actresses including Bette Davis, Ida Lupino, and Eleanor Parker. After he left Warner Bros. Henreid made a series of adventure films. He later directed films and television shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Maverick, and The Big Valley.

Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett

Joan Bennett (1910–1990) began her film career during the early sound era. A natural blonde, Bennett dyed her hair as a plot device in the film Trade Winds (1938). As a brunette, Bennett projected a sultry persona that had her compared to the brunette beauty, Hedy Lamarr. During this period she starred in two costume epics. She played Princess Maria Theresa in The Man in the Iron Mask (1939) and Grand Duchess Zona of Lichtenburg in The Son of Monte Cristo (1940). Bennett was one of two finalists for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), along with Paulette Goddard. She had a very successful collaboration with the director Fritz Lang. With Lang, she starred in the classics Man Hunt (1940), The Woman in the Window (1944), and Scarlet Street (1945). Bennett acted on stage and on television where she became a pop culture icon playing Elizabeth Collins Stoddard on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971).

John Qualen and Paul Henreid

Hollow Triumph trivia
  • Steve Sekely was removed as director early in production; Paul Henreid took over as director but Sekely retained director credit due to his contract.
  • Paul Henreid produced the film so he could play a bad guy.
  • Jack Webb's film debut.
  • Gasoline was 25.5 cents per gallon.

To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

Discussion questions:
  1. What did you think of the film's premise?
  2. Was Paul Henreid believable in two roles?
  3. Joan Bennett wasn't a femme fatale in this film noir but was she effective in her role?
  4. Were there any character actor performances that were memorable?
  5. Did this film remind you of any other films you've seen?
  6. Was the ending a surprise? Was it what you expected?

To join the discussion on June 13, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. To join the discussion, click here. Once you RSVP, you'll receive an invitation and link to join the discussion on Zoom.


  1. I look so forward to seeing this again -- it's been many (many) years. I love that Joan Bennett reignited her career by dyeing her hair. She was truly like a completely different actress.

  2. I'm looking forward to revisiting this one -- I haven't seen it in years (even though it contains one of my favorite film noir quotes -- "It's a bitter little world.") Interesting that Steve Sekely was credited as director!

  3. I love Bennett. I think she's one of the most underrated actresses from Hollywood's Golden Age. I think she makes the film; I can't imagine another actress in the role.


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