Man of the World (film)

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Man of the World
Man of the World lobby card 2.jpg
Wynne Gibson and Powell featured on lobby card
Directed by Richard Wallace
Written by Herman J. Mankiewicz
Starring William Powell
Carole Lombard
Wynne Gibson
Cinematography Victor Milner
Music byHerman Hand
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • March 28, 1931 (1931-03-28)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States

Man of the World is a 1931 American pre-Code romantic drama directed by Richard Wallace and starring William Powell, Carole Lombard, and Wynne Gibson.


The story is about a young American girl who visits Paris accompanied by her fiancé and her wealthy uncle. There she meets and is romanced by a worldly novelist; what she does not know is that he is a blackmailer who is using her to get to her uncle.


In Paris in the early 1930s, American Michael Trevor (William Powell) poses as a novelist but is actually a former newspaper man who took the blame for some scam in the United States and had to flee the country. Embittered, he now prints a weekly scandal sheet and blackmails expatriates to keep their names out of his rag. While extorting $2000 from the wealthy Harry Taylor (Guy Kibbee) (a scam done so smoothly that Harry thinks Michael has done him a big favor), Michael meets Harry's niece, Mary Kendall (Carole Lombard), and the two feel an instant mutual attraction. Mary has a boyfriend, Frank Reynolds (Lawrence Gray), but she is not passionate about him. Michael's partners in crime are Irene Hoffa (Wynne Gibson) and Fred (George Chandler). Irene is a former flame who is still not over Michael. She needs money to keep her brother out of prison and proposes that they extort more money from Harry by embroiling Mary in a scandal. Michael resists - he has a rule never to target women - but then reluctantly agrees.

While Frank is away on business, Michael spends time with Mary and they fall in love. She tries to end it in a letter to Frank, but is unable to finish it. Michael tells Irene that he is done being a criminal because he is in love with Mary which causes Irene to be jealous. She threatens to tell Mary all about who he really is so Michael decides to tell Mart himself. Mary says that it is all in the past; they love each other and nothing else matters.

Michael tells Irene that he and Mary are going to be married and that she now knows the truth about him and loves him nonetheless. Irene says that someday his past will come out and Mary will then be the wife of a criminal. These words weigh on Michael and he realizes that, for Mary's sake, he cannot marry her.

Michael tells Harry that he was behind the earlier scam and demands a further $10,000 or he will print a piece about his planned wedding to Mary. Harry is angry and Mary is hurt and confused, but Michael is determined to go ahead with his scheme. Harry pays him off with a check, which Mary herself hands to him with a slap across his face. After he leaves, she cries in her uncle”s arms. After seeing how much Michael cares for Mary, Irene decides to instead get the money needed for her brother by selling her jewelry. She also tells the police that Michael is behind the scandal sheet and they give him 24 hours to leave France. Mary and Frank sail back to Pittsburgh, a conspicuous engagement ring on her hand. Michael heads to Cape Town, and agrees to let Irene come along. Aboard ship, he tears up the $10,000 check.



The New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall described the film as "a rather interesting but scarcely credible story ... But withal, aside from a few somewhat tedious stretches, it is a tale that inveigles one's attention." [1]

DVD release

This film is currently available as part of the DVD set Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection, which, in addition to this film, includes the films We're Not Dressing (1934), Hands Across the Table (1935), Love Before Breakfast (1936), The Princess Comes Across (1936) and True Confession (1937).

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  1. Mordaunt Hall (March 21, 1931). "The Screen; An Oriental Sleuth. Blackmailers in Paris. Chicago Crimes. A Noble Stenographer". The New York Times.