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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
Ralph Bellamy tries to lead a reformed life despite Isabel Jewell's interference
"The Man Who Lived Twice" is a really fun picture, and well-made in the bargain. Ralph Bellamy plays a tough criminal whose confederates are Ward Bond and Isabel Jewell. Surgeon Thurston Hall operates on the disfigured Bellamy, and he becomes a doctor with a loss of memory of his former life. When Jewell recognizes him, the complications start, and they pile up at a rapid pace.
The script is tight, the directing effective, the music kept to a minimum, the tension maintained, and the performances smooth by all concerned.
The ways in which this movie is done can be compared with the way that many modern movies are done, and the comparisons will often favor the older methods, use of music, construction of scenes, acting styles, editing approaches and styles. I've seen a good many modern movies that are just fine, but a significant number come across as manipulative of the viewer rather than taking one into a believable world. Despite the scientific premise of "The Man Who Lived Twice" being very implausible, it still manages to come across as natural. This is quite a feat, not unlike some of those movies that Karloff starred in. New film makers could benefit by studying how the old masters accomplished this, and I think they might find that they need to pay much more attention to the script and the film editing. Nowadays a good many films manipulate the audience with music, camera work, and editing techniques.
A picture like this is shorter and yet each conversation shows people making logical choices within their characters and advancing the action and portrayals by doing so. Modern movies too often have scenes, dialog, subplots, characters and action that seems attached or layered on or introduced, rather than flowing naturally out of the basic plot and characters.
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