During World War I, criminal Dakin Barrolles, fleeing a bank robbery gone awry, has a chance meeting with a rich, drunken banker and his wife. Fascinated by the kind of people he would ... See full summary »
During World War I, criminal Dakin Barrolles, fleeing a bank robbery gone awry, has a chance meeting with a rich, drunken banker and his wife. Fascinated by the kind of people he would ordinarily never get to meet, he steals a locket with the banker's picture. Later, in an attempt to elude the police, he joins the army and is sent to the front. Wounded in battle, his face is severely disfigured and a plastic surgeon, finding the locket with the banker's picture, assumes that is what Barrolles looks like and reshapes his face to that of the banker's (who, coincidentally, also joined the army and is now missing in action). After the war Barrolles, now with the banker's face, decides to pretend to be the banker in order to gain enough knowledge to rob the bank--and, as an additional perk, get the banker's beautiful wife. Written by
Fleeing a botched bank robbery, veteran criminal Dakin Barrolles has a chance encounter with drunken banker Sir John Lasher and his beautiful wife Xandra. Barrolles is fascinated by Xandra and steals a locket with the couple's picture. World War I has just broken out and Barrolles and his accomplice Charles Fox decide to escape the police by joining the army. Barrolles is caught in a land mine and his face is blown away. A brilliant plastic surgeon, assuming the locket Barrolles carries shows a portrait of his real face, gives him the face of Sir John who has also joined the army and is missing in action. Barrolles, now believed to be Sir John, goes along with the masquerade in order to avoid further trouble with Scotland Yard which is still on his trail. Xandra, who is not sorry that her dissolute husband has vanished, comes to the hospital to bring "Sir John" home. Back in London, Barrolles is tempted to use his position as Sir John to rob the bank but he and Xandra-charmed by the uncharacteristic tenderness of her spouse-fall in love. Barrolles is caught between his love for Xandra and the urging of his old partner Fox to return to crime.
In spite of the title, Scotland Yard plays only a minor role in this completely unbelievable melodrama that is rife with plot holes and contrivances. A prime example of the latter is the plastic surgeon's willingness to play along with the ruse even after Barrolles has told him who he really is, accepting the criminal's word that he will not take advantage of Xandra and will leave her before they get to London. In the early scenes Edmund Lowe adopts a false nose, a moustache and a low growl to play Barrolles and a silly ass Englishman accent for Sir John. Later in the film Lowe is pretty much his usual movie self; a likeable, slightly shady scamp with a sense of honor. He is more convincing in a dual role he did just a few years later in THE GREAT IMPERSONATION. Joan Bennett looks lovely but has a very dull role and in the supporting cast only Donald Crisp stands out unless you count the unintentionally funny performance of Betty Leonard as a French nurse with a very fake accent. William K. Howard, a veteran of silent movies, still had not found his footing in the sound era and much of the film has that static, stilted quality that frequently mars movies made from 1929-30. Howard's direction picks up a bit in the climatic scenes but he's still a long way from his subsequent TRIAL OF VIVIENNE WARE and THE POWER AND THE GLORY
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