Last week, my blog finally received 85 followers! This new wave of followers was partly because of the unexpected success I experienced from my Book Adaptation Tag post (that post currently has 16 views and 13 likes). Thank you for helping 18 Cinema Lane acquire these many followers! I remember like it was just yesterday when I published my first blog follower dedication review last March. I had reviewed the film Saving Mr. Banks when I received only five followers. Looking back, I never thought I’d have almost a hundred followers in this short amount of time. If you followed or read my blog for a significant period of time, you would know that any time I receive a milestone number of followers, I review a film that was released in the number of years of that milestone number. So, since I’ve received 85 followers, I will review a film that was released 85 years ago (in 1934). When I was doing my research on which films premiered in 1934, I came across a film called The Man with Two Faces. The one thing that made me interested in seeing this movie was the idea of an actor portraying a character who also portrays a character. In the general scope of cinema, I feel that this concept is rarely seen. Personally, the only time I’ve ever seen an actor portray a character who portrayed a character was when Max Lloyd-Jones was cast in the film The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story. In that movie, Max portrayed Jason Priestley, who portrayed Brandon Walsh on the show. So, without further ado, let’s start this review for The Man with Two Faces!
Things I liked about the film:
- The acting: To me, the acting was one of the strongest aspects of this film! Mary Astor’s portrayal of Jessica Wells really shined, making it feel like her character was a real-life person! When it comes to this performance, I think that Mary’s career as a silent film actress worked in her favor. Since silent films rely on the emotions and expressions of its actors to convey a certain message, it makes sense for Mary’s performance to be as well-rounded as it was in this movie. I also liked Margaret Dale’s portrayal of Aunt Martha Temple. Her performance successfully conveyed the moral compass that was needed for this particular story.
- The portrayal of “the man with two faces”: While this film had a strong cast, it was Edward G. Robinson’s portrayal of “the man with two faces” that really stole the show! As I mentioned in the introduction, performances where actors portray characters who also portray characters are not that common. But Edward did a good job with his performance of both Damon Wells and Jules Chautard! From the emotions to even the accent, Edward effectively made these characters feel like distinct individuals, even though it was the same person the entire time. What also adds to this portrayal was how the character was written. Having both Damon and Jules be very unique from one another enhances the experience of seeing these individuals on-screen. Both the acting and writing helped make “the man with two faces” live up to this film’s title.
- The villain: The main conflict in this movie was Jessica Wells having to deal with her husband, Stanley Vance. He was, obviously, the villain of this story. Stanley not only treated his wife very terribly, but he also threatened physical violence to anyone who stood in his way of getting what he wanted. Even though I found this character to be despicable, I have to applaud Louis Calhern’s performance. He did a great job at portraying those hurtful behaviors and making the audience feel negatively toward this character. Even when he didn’t say anything, his facial expressions made his character come across as very unsettling. I also have the applaud the screenwriting that was associated with the character of Stanley Vance. The way this character was written added to the effectiveness of how he appeared on-screen. These two factors made this character and performance as memorable as it could be.
What I didn’t like about the film:
- A lack of suspense: When I first watched the trailer for The Man with Two Faces, I was led to believe that this story would be suspenseful and mysterious. If anything, this movie felt more like a drama. There was no mystery associated with this story and there was no suspense to be found. The story was written in a way that showed how someone chose to resolve another person’s conflict.
- A slower pace: Throughout this movie, I found the pace to be slower than I had expected. This caused the story to feel more drawn out. It also made the run-time feel longer than it was realistically set at. The pace was definitely one of the weaker aspects of the film.
- Some of the scene transitions: Toward the beginning and end of The Man with Two Faces, I noticed the transitions between scenes came a little too quickly. Because of this, the flow of the film felt choppy. These transitions also caused some of the scenes to either feel too short or unnecessary within the overall picture.
My overall impression:
I found The Man with Two Faces to be just ok. While it’s not a terrible or poorly written film, I think that the movie could have been better. I will say that the best part of this film was the acting. This makes the movie a character driven project. There were several stand-out performances within The Man with Two Faces, from Mary Astor to Louis Calhern. However, the most memorable performance in this entire cast came from Edward G. Robinson! Through his portrayal of Damon Wells and Jules Chautard, he was able to do what very few actors have done before, during, and after his time: portray a character that also portrays a character. As I watched this film, I could see that Edward successfully conquered this challenge and made this performance the best that it could be. I would be interested in seeing other films from Edward’s filmography and sharing my thoughts about them with you on 18 Cinema Lane!
Overall score: 6 out of 10
What are your thoughts on my review? Which movie from 1934 is your favorite? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!