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MP John Chilcote is addicted to drugs and its made his already unpleasant personality more so. When he lets down his party in Parliament by botching an important speech he walks out into a London fog and bumps into his identical cousin John Loder. When life - including a clinging mistress, a discarded wife, his demanding party bosses and his responsibilities as a gentleman - close in on him he chucks it all and finds his cousin in order to hide out in a drunken stupor. When his faithful servant follows him, the servant hits on the idea of Loder impersonating Chilcote until the latter can get his act together. Loder does, and gets emotionally entangled with Mrs. Chilcote and the mistress. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
There's no question but that "The Masquerader" is dated. This 1933 movie is set in a London contemporaneous with the era in which it was filmed and portrays a highly stratified social milieu that has all but disappeared in the intervening eight decades; one is almost surprised that the constable at the doors of the House of Commons doesn't pull his forelock as he addresses the parliamentarians who emerge. But the movie is nimbly and deftly made and features both good acting in its principal and secondary roles and sure direction by Richard Wallace. Portraying both the dissolute Sir John Chilcote and his identical cousin John Loder, Ronald Colman is afforded the opportunity to display both his louche and noble sides (qualities he was to exploit to greater advantage in "A Tale of Two Cities" made two years later) and Colman makes the most of it. He's ably assisted here by Elissa Landi, Juliette Compton and the ubiquitous Halliwell Hobbes (playing his faithful, if long-suffering manservant, Brock). And, really, it's the acting that makes this movie come to life; in the hands of lesser thespians the much-used plot and only serviceable dialogue would begin to display the threadbare attributes of the cinematically shop-worn. But good acting always has the ability to move us... or it should. The joy that Colman's and Landi's characters feel when the expected but nonetheless surprising ending to "The Masquerader" rolls 'round is palpable and -- in a cool, present-day cinematic era when highly charged emotion is regarded as somewhat suspect -- refreshing.
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