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A criminal has plastic surgery done to change his identity. However, during the operation, he loses his memory; when he comes to after the surgery, he has a change of heart and decides to help people by becoming a doctor. Written by
Part of the Son of Shock package of 20 titles released to television in 1958, which followed the original Shock Theater release of 52 features one year earlier. This was also one of the 11 Columbia titles, the other 61 all being Universals. See more »
This is the type of B movie that makes you want to keep seeking these old flicks out. Ralph Bellamy plays Slick Rawley, a notorious criminal who is disfigured. The cops get too close to him, so he ducks out from his friend Gloves (Ward Bond) and his girl Peggy (Isabel Jewell) and ends up in a college at a lecture by scientist Dr. Schuyler (Thurston Hall in a nice turn). This Doctor says he can cure certain types of criminals by releasing pressure on the brain, caused by tumors. Rawley is intrigued and talks the doctor into using him as his first human experiment. (He had done experiments on "criminal" dogs before). Slick only asks for his disfigurement to be repaired. After the experiment, Slick loses his memory and becomes the prominent Dr. Blake after much help from his new father figure, Dr. Schuyler. After a few years his old cohorts show up and he gains a new ally in Gloves, who again is loyal to the man who takes care of him, but now an enemy in his old girl, Peggy, who wants the reward for turning in Slick to the police.
Harry Lachman was a very good director and this film benefits also from being made at Columbia, a quality studio. This is clearly a B film, but has a class that shows. Lachman uses a lot of close-ups, montages and angled shots that keep the story feeling tense, even in some of the lighter passages. Ralph Bellamy is very good in a dual role, first as the disfigured criminal and second as the respected doctor. He uses different body language for each and at the same time both have certain aspects in common, including the voice and the nervous habit of twirling a key-chain, which eventually gives Blake's true identity away.
Likewise, the supporting cast is very good. Ward Bond plays Gloves with some real sympathy. He's not the smartest man, but he really just needs a chance. Jewell is quite good as the greedy woman, who won't take good charity from Dr. Blake and would rather turn him in for more money. The two mirror the good and bad sides of Blake/Rawley. Gloves is his loyal, good side that gives people a chance, despite their criminal ways. Peggy, meanwhile, is the seedier side that takes the quick and easy way rather than work hard. Marian Marsh is also sympathetic as a woman, Janet, who Blake helps and ends up falling in love with.
The Man Who LivedTwice is a special little B, that has some good suspense and even some horror overtones with the story of disfigurement and scientific experiment. The sci-fi angle is, of course, the weak point with the ridiculous tumor on the brain theory, but when you get past that, this is a really good crime melodrama.
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