The Scarf is a most curious, eccentric film. Something of its oddity is conveyed by TCM's one-sentence plot summary: "An asylum escapee meets a waitress and hides on a turkey farm; supposedly he killed someone." The film was written and directed by E. A. (Ewald Andre) Dupont, one of the many German refugees working in Hollywood during and after the war, and features a splendid cast including John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge, Emlyn Williams and especially James Barton, in a rather brilliant performance as a good-hearted, grizzled, hermit farmer whose flock of turkeys serves as source of income and as watchdog and possibly as metaphor.
John Howard Barrington escapes from an institution for the criminally insane. It seems that he's been incarcerated for a murder that he can't remember committing. Some sort of stress amnesia, the audience is expected to believe. He falls in with Connie Carter, a forthright waitress-singer-floozy and regains a smidgen of memory when he notices an unusual scarf around Connie's neck. After many an adventure and some good photography, it comes to pass that he and judge and jury have been tricked into believing him guilty. The villain is Dr. David Dunbar, an effete psychologist who has hidden his own psychopathic past. Dunbar is revealed as the actual murderer and all turns out for the best -- Barrington gets the girl, regains his memory and his innocence, and gets down to business farming turkeys.
I found The Scarf absolutely riveting although I had to suspend disbelief over the many holes in the plot and the occasional crazy continuity problems. But amnesia movies can be mighty flexible about such details.
Emlyn Williams, who plays the maniac-murderer David Dunbar, "became an overnight star in 1935, with his thriller Night Must Fall, which he wrote and also played the lead role of a psychopathic murderer." Theatrical repetition compulsion?