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The Best Man Wins (1935)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Crime  |  15 January 1935 (USA)
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A diver saves his best friend's life but loses his own arm in doing so. Later, unable to find work because of his missing arm, he is forced to go to work for a criminal searching for lost ... See full summary »


(as Erle Kenton)


(story) (as Ben G. Kohn) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview:
Nick Roberts
Doc Boehm
Florence Rice ...
Ann Barry
Forrester Harvey ...
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
Captain--Harbor Patrol


A diver saves his best friend's life but loses his own arm in doing so. Later, unable to find work because of his missing arm, he is forced to go to work for a criminal searching for lost treasures. Meanwhile his friend, who has since become a policeman, finds himself assigned to break up the crook's operation and bring in his gang--including the man who saved his life. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Crime






Release Date:

15 January 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Below the Depths  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Shooting began late October 1934. Bela Lugosi immediately followed this with Monogram's The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934), which was completed in November 1934. Both films saw release in January 1935. See more »

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User Reviews

Toby, don't be a hero!
27 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

By my title I'm not saying that the best outcome would have been for Toby Warren (Edmund Lowe) to let his best friend Nick Roberts (Jack Holt) die at the bottom of the sea, but his heroic deed was definitely the catalyst for his downhill slide. This film could be considered just another Columbia B, or perhaps it is more... Maybe an antiwar film of sorts paralleling how the "forgotten men" - veterans and often heroes of WWI - were treated and shuffled off to bread lines, or perhaps it's a commentary on how, once you stop contributing to the GDP of the nation, you are an outcast, one of the invisible ones. But I digress.

Toby and Nick are the best of friends and divers on a salvage ship. Nick is the guest of honor at a goodbye dinner, as he is quitting the salvage ship to join the police force as a diver. On his last night of work, Nick is caught in some debris and knocked unconscious. Toby quickly dons a diving suit and frees and rescues his friend, but he injures his left arm so badly it must be amputated.

At first he is hailed in the newspaper, as headlines over the next three months are shown discussing his actions, his recovery, and a 500 dollar check awarded him for his bravery as he exits the hospital full of hope for the future but minus an arm. Just because everyone thinks Toby is a hero doesn't mean they are ready to hire him as a diver, though. First his old employer turns him down, then ship after ship. Toby is rooming with Nick, who hasn't forgotten his debt, and says Toby has room and board with him forever as far as he is concerned. But Toby doesn't want charity, he wants a job. When his fiancée pretty much says that he is all washed up and sounds more like she is sticking to him out of duty rather than love, Toby disappears and hits the skids.

The only job he can get as a diver is on a ship involved in a complex smuggling scheme - jewels are smuggled out of Europe, dropped overboard off the coast, and then retrieved by a salvage ship. Toby only takes the job when he sees he has a chance to get his girl back, but doesn't want to be a charity case husband living on his wife's salary.

I'll let you watch and see how this plays out, but there are a couple of twists you may not be expecting, and the story really is quite poignant. It's the tale not of a guy gone bad so much as one backed into a corner, and of a friend (Nick) who is caught between duty to the police force and the debt of owing his life to a buddy who has taken a wrong turn. Edmund Lowe often played obnoxious overbearing characters, but here he is pitch perfect as a guy overcome by events and forgotten by society. Jack Holt, the square-jawed protagonist of Columbia B's in the 30's, conveys his inner turmoil without many words. One of the humorous points of the film - Bela Lugosi as Dr. Bohm, head of the smuggling operation, with a penchant for reading horoscopes as well as thievery. Florence Rice plays Nick's fiancée whose seemingly well meaning but mixed signals to Toby throughout the film might cause anyone to drink heavily. Recommended for fans of 30's films that could tell a tale well in less than 80 minutes.

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