The Man with Two Faces (1934 film)

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The Man with Two Faces
The Man With Two Faces.jpg
1934 theatrical poster
Directed by Archie Mayo
Produced by Robert Lord
Hal B. Wallis
Jack L. Warner
Screenplay by Tom Reed
Niven Busch
Based on The Dark Tower (play)
by George S. Kaufman
Alexander Woollcott
Starring Edward G. Robinson
Mary Astor
Music by Leo F. Forbstein
Bernhard Kaun
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited by William Holmes
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • August 4, 1934 (1934-08-04)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Man with Two Faces is an American drama film directed by Archie Mayo, and starring Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Ricardo Cortez, Louis Calhern, Mae Clarke, and David Landau. The story was adapted by Tom Reed and Niven Busch from the play The Dark Tower by George S. Kaufman and Alexander Woollcott.


The Man with Two Faces was actress Margaret Dale's last movie and her only talkie. She and Anton Stengel are the only two actors from the Broadway play to appear in the film. In 2010, this film became available on DVD from the Warner Archive Collection. [1] [2] [3] [4]


Jessica Wells (Astor) is a beautiful and talented actress, returning to the stage after a three-year absence. Although her triumphal return seems certain, family and friends are shocked when Vance (Calhern), her long-lost husband with a criminal past, shows up at the family home. He immediately exerts his influence on the vivacious Jessica, and she becomes a sleepwalking automaton blindly obeying orders.

The avaricious and opportunistic Vance (who appears carrying pet mice in a cage) has heard that his wife holds half the rights to the play in which she will be featured, a prospective hit, but a certain disaster in her somnambulist state.

Stage star Damon Wells (Robinson) lends theatrical prestige to his sister's comeback while helping to reclaim her talent as her acting coach. He and Jessica's manager (Cortez) realize that the verminous Vance must be dealt with at once, so Damon begins an elaborate ruse, presenting himself to the schemer as the bearded French theatrical producer Jules Chautard.

Vance is lured to a hotel room by Jules/Damon, thinking that he will be paid handsomely for Jessica's half-interest in the play, but is instead drugged and then stabbed to death. Damon cannily covers his tracks in the murder, but he accidentally leaves a few theatrical mustache-whiskers when closing a Gideon Bible.

Police Sergeant William Curtis (Landau) cracks the case when he connects the artificial hair to the art of an actor and confronts Damon in his dressing room. The detective, however, is aware of the suspicious past of the victim and not unsympathetic to the actor. Wells is left with the suggestion that he can perhaps act his way out of the rap.


(in credits order)

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  1. The American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films: 1931-40 by The AFI c.1993
  2. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993: The Man with Two Faces(Wayback)
  3. "The Man with Two Faces, for order, Warners Archive Collection". Retrieved 2014-02-26.
  4. The Broadway League (1933-11-25). "The Man with Two Faces presented originally on Broadway as The Dark Tower at the Morosco Theatre, November 25, 1933 to January 1934, 57 performances;". Retrieved 2014-02-26.