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The Man Who Came Back (1924)

Passed | | Drama | 17 August 1924 (USA)
Henry Potter is the irresponsible playboy son of a New York millionaire. Fearing he will disgrace the family name if he stays in New York, the father sends him to San Francisco to work in ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Henry Potter
Cyril Chadwick ...
Captain Trevelan
Ralph Lewis ...
Thomas Potter
Emily Fitzroy ...
Aunt Isabel
Harvey Clark ...
Charles Reisling
Edward Peil Sr. ...
Sam Shu Sin (as Edward Piel)
David Kirby ...
James Gordon ...
Captain Gallon
Walter Wilkinson ...
Henry Potter (at age 4)
Winston Miller ...
Henry Potter (at age 12)


Henry Potter is the irresponsible playboy son of a New York millionaire. Fearing he will disgrace the family name if he stays in New York, the father sends him to San Francisco to work in the family shipyards and, to make a man out of him, he is told he will have to start at the bottom and work his way up. Henry decides this is not a good idea and resents it to the point he will indeed start at the bottom but will work his way down from there, and disgrace the family name in San Francisco. On one of his drinking binges, he meets Marcelle, a cabaret dancer. He tolerates her and she falls in love with him and pleads for him to give up his drinking and carousing. The father sends a company-man out to check on him and he finds Henry an alcoholic and very much in debt. He pays off Henry's debts and then pays a freighter captain $500 to shanghai Henry to Shanghai, where the family name is less well-known. There Henry sinks even lower and frequents the worse dives in the worse sections of ... Written by Les Adams <>

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Founded on the Story by John Fleming Wilson (original poster) See more »







Release Date:

17 August 1924 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Senda do Vício  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

He could have stayed there.
22 January 2005 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

This film's portentous title implies that it's the story of a man who returned from the dead, or at any rate from some undiscovered bourne. In fact, it's a character study dealing with the moral regeneration of a protagonist who starts out unsympathetically, and who is intended to earn our sympathy.

The attractive and classy Dorothy Mackaill plays a nightclub chantoosey whose stage name is Marcelle, apparently because of her marcelled hairdo. It's explained (in some clumsy inter titles) that she isn't *really* a nightclub singer (you could've fooled me); she's only deigning to warble because her poor aunt Isabel needs the money.

George O'Brien plays Henry Potter, the spoilt playboy son of New York shipping magnate Thomas Potter. There are some awkward flashback scenes, depicting Henry's childhood relationship with his father. Now that Henry's an adult, Thomas offers him $500 and a railway ticket to San Francisco, where a job in the father's district office awaits the son. Playboy Henry takes the money and the ticket, and duly arrives in Frisco, but never shows up for his job. Henry and Marcelle meet, but before they can lock tonsils he falls afoul of a press gang and gets abducted by Captain Gallon, who apparently never heard of the metric system.

Henry has been shanghaied to (go ahead, have a guess) Shanghai. This is fairly plausible; rather less plausible are the Chinese characters played by white actors with sellotaped eyelids. Plausibility breathes its last dying gasp when Henry crosses paths with Marcelle again, now slumming in a Chinese opium den. (Apparently they got fed up with her in Frisco.) SPOILERS COMING. It seems that Marcelle has a substance-abuse problem, which explains why she's in the opium den. But Henry has no cause to criticise, as he has a wee problem with alcohol. Together they manage to kick their habits, but not before Henry slashes Marcelle's pretty face with a riding crop. Having waved bye-bye to the bloated corpse of credibility, they both get clean and sober, and the final fade-out finds them in Honolulu, raising pineapples.

This movie's script is rubbish, but George O'Brien goes a considerable way to transcend the material. In 'Sunrise', O'Brien played a man who attempted to murder his wife, yet who afterwards managed to convince her to trust him again; more astonishingly, he also convinces the audience to accept his sincere penitence for this rash act. In 'The Man Who Came Back', O'Brien's considerable talent as an actor goes far to render this ridiculous material almost plausible ... almost, but not quite.

There are several good performances in supporting roles: Ralph Lewis and Emily Fitzroy both deserve to be better known, and Cyril Chadwick and Harvey Clark are excellent here. Dorothy Mackaill is pleasant enough to look at, but not much of an actress. I'll rate this tosh 3 points in 10.

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