This week’s mystery movie was the 1932 film “False Faces,” with Lowell Sherman, Peggy Shannon, Lila Lee, Berton Churchill, David Landau, Harold Waldrige, Geneva Mitchell, Oscar Apfel, Miriam Seegar, Joyce Compton, Nancy O’Neil, Edward Martindel and Purnell Pratt.
Screenplay by Kubeck Glasmon and Llewelyn Hughes, photography by R.O. Binger and Theo. McCord, edited by Rose Loewinger, settings by Ralph DeLacy, supervising editor Martin G. Cohn, musical director Val Burton.
Directed by Lowell Sherman.
This week’s mystery movie was my happy discovery of a relatively obscure movie. “False Faces” is an all-around excellent film in a marvelous restoration by UCLA combining different elements to produce a full print. Most of the film is quite sharp with well-modulated blacks, whites and midtones, though some segments of the final scenes are washed out and murky. The audio is nice and crisp. The UCLA presentation includes historical background on the film, which was based on the life of Henry Schireson.
Hollywood Filmograph (Oct. 1, 1932) said:
The old adage that a man cannot do two things at one time is entirely dissipated in the latest KBS production from the Tiffany Studios. Lowell Sherman not only directed this picture flawlessly, but he played the leading role equally well. World Wide have another one for the largest theaters of the country, as it has novelty in the story as well as class in the production.
Kubec Glasmon wrote the original story and had Llewelyn Hughes cooperated with him in some of the best dialogue heard from the screen this season.
Film Daily (Nov. 3, 1932) said:
Exposure of plastic surgery as a racket makes a suspenseful drama with good box office possibilities.
A good topical subject has been given effective dramatic handling in this Lowell Sherman production turned out by the KBS forces.
Harrison’s Reports (Nov. 12, 1932) said:
This picture is fast-moving and holds one in suspense. As usual Lowell Sherman is the whole show and gives an excellent performance. But it is unpleasant entertainment for Sherman is shown as a scoundrel, a philanderer, with no sense of decency and absolutely without any conscience. It is horrible to see a doctor taking a chance by operating on people without knowing what it is all about, just for the money involved.
…. Not suitable for children or Sunday showing. Good for first-run downtown theaters.
Photoplay Magazine (December 1932) said:
A startling, vivid picture with a brand-new idea — an expose of unethical medical practices. Lowell Sherman, besides getting the credit for the excellent direction, gives a finished and suave performance as the doctor who malpractices in plastic surgery. Peggy Shannon, Lila Lee, Berton Churchill and David Landau are some of the others who make this an entertaining film. There’s a great punch ending, too.
An unsigned review in the New York Times (Nov. 25, 1932) — possibly Mordaunt Hall — said:
The fervor of holiday audiences at the Paramount yesterday was somewhat tempered by the introduction of a forlorn little item called “False Faces.” Not the least of its disheartening surprises is that it reveals Lowell Sherman — both as director and star — at a level of mediocrity which hardly seems possible to those who saw his striking performance earlier this season in “What Price Hollywood?” Mr. Sherman, as director, presents himself as a medical charlatan and amorous buffoon in a vague, blundering melodrama of plastic surgery. As leading player, he gives a performance that is at least as insincere as it is unsympathetic. There is nothing in a story like “False Faces” to encourage a deft actor like Lowell Sherman to exhibit his own undeniable talents.
For Monday, our mysterious gent is visiting a mysterious newsstand.
Update: This is our leading man, Lowell Sherman, in disguise as he is trying to escape the authorities. Also a great newsstand.
For Tuesday, we have these mystery women.
Update: These three mystery women are unidentified, although I’m positive the woman on the left was a mystery guest within the last year.
Like last week, this week’s mystery movie has a mystery nightclub scene.
Update: This is Gene Morgan, who mysteriously comes out clutching a large napkin or some sort of fabric that he wads up during his spiel.
And as incredible as it may seem, our mystery movie also has a mysterious judge. Just like last week.
Update: Our mystery judge is as yet unidentified.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Monday’s mystery gent, wrong movie) and David Inman (Monday’s mystery gent).
Guys with mustaches roundup:
Brian Donlevy: 4 votes
George Brent: 2 votes
Tristram Coffin: 1 vote
Billie de Wolfe: 1 vote
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have these mysterious gents.
Update: This is David Landau, left, and Oscar Apfel.
We also have this mystery gent.
Update: This is Harold Waldrige / Waldridge.
Finally, we have these two mystery women.
Update: This is Joyce Compton, left, and Miriam Seegar in her last film role.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery gent and Tuesday’s mysterious master of ceremonies), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery master of ceremonies) and Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery gent and Tuesday’s mysterious master of ceremonies).
Mike and Mary: You can count on it.
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Helene Millard.
And this mystery gent.
Update: This is Ken Maynard.
Also for Thursday, we have these mysterious gentlemen.
Update: This is Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and Arthur Houseman.
And finally, we have a mystery woman and dapper mystery gent.
Update: This is Lila Lee and Berton Churchill.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery gents Nos. 1 and 2 and mystery women Nos. 1 and 2), Blackwing Jenny (Wednesday’s mystery man No. 1), David Inman (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery man No. 1), Howard Mandelbaum (all of Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (all of Wednesday’s mystery guests) and Sheila (Wednesday’s mystery men Nos. 1 and 2).
For Friday, we have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Peggy Shannon.
And our mysterious leading man fantasizes about You Know Who.
Update: Lowell Sherman fantasizes about Mrs. Louise Emmons.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mary Mallory: (Wednesday’s mystery office boy and Thursday’s mystery guests), Blackwing Jenny (mystery movie, mystery leading man/director, mystery chauffeur, mystery jilted woman and mystery crooked partner), Funky PhD: (mystery movie, mystery director and mystery chauffeur), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Sheila (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery director/star, Tuesday’s mystery office boy, and all of Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie), Earl Boebert (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery director and Thursday’s mystery chauffeur), Sue Slutzky (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery director, Tuesday’s mystery M.C., Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests) and Megan and Thom (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery director, Tuesday’s mystery M.C. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests).