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A brilliant but impoverished writer, who is a pacifist, goes to work for a publisher and writes anti-war editorials. When he discovers that the publisher has betrayed him and is in league with munitions manufacturers to make money off of war, he goes insane. Written by
THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD (Edward Ludwig, 1934) ***
This little-known drama is often mistakenly thought of as a horror film by virtue of its luridly suggestive title, its being a Universal production and the appearance of several horror stalwarts. Actually, it's quite splendid and very stylish, making the most of its Grade A budget.
Claude Rains is marvelous as ever in the title role and is superbly supported by a wonderful cast - a blonde Joan Bennett, a treacherous Lionel Atwill, Wallace Ford, Gilbert Emery, Edward Van Sloan (the latter two are actually uncredited and appear very briefly; so, too, does Valerie Hobson according to the IMDb, thought I didn't spot her)! The unusual, thought-provoking (and sadly, more topical than ever) plot, taking a critical look at political opportunism, spin doctoring and warmongering, is nicely handled all around, with as much care given to the touching domestic life of the main characters as to the period detail or its vigorous scenes of warfare and political discussions.
The effectively filmed finale (which gives the film its title) is a highlight and, hopefully, it should be able to get a new lease of life whenever the film is released on DVD, even if it has to be passed off as a horror title to make it; however, I don't think many will complain of this once they've seen it but will instead be very thankful that it has finally been made available on the newest home video format. Are you listening, Universal?
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