The Man Who Lost Himself


1h 12m 1941

Brief Synopsis

John Evans encounters his lookalike, Malcolm Scott. When Scott is killed in an accident, Evans finds himself mistaken for Scott and decides to do some good in his new role.

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 25, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
General Film Co.; Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Man Who Lost Himself by H. DeVere Stacpoole (New York, 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,515ft

Synopsis

Malcolm Scott, the patriarch of a socially prominent New York family, escapes from a mental hospital when he learns his estate is teetering on the edge of financial ruin. He arranges a meeting with his estranged wife Adrienne, then at a hotel bar, meets Puerto Rican John Evans, who could pass for his identical twin. Like Malcolm, John is facing financial ruin, so the two men decide to get drunk together. After Malcolm's meeting with Adrienne and his family lawyer, Frederick Collins, the two men continue their carousing through the night. The next morning, John awakens in Malcolm's lavish bedroom, being attended to by the rich man's butler, Paul, who mistakes him for Malcolm. While initially enjoying the masquerade, by late morning, John finds that he is unable to convince anyone in the household that he is not Malcolm. He finally leaves the Scott home, only to learn that the real Malcolm has been killed in a subway accident and mistakenly identified as John. John returns to the Scott home, where he meets Adrienne, who chastises her estranged "husband" for his wicked ways. John is immediately infatuated with Adrienne and decides to remain "Malcolm" for the time being. He then meets Frank De Soto, an illegal immigrant working for a blackmailer named Voles. After threatening to call the F.B.I, John manages to obtain Malcolm's love letters from his lover, Mrs. Van Avery, as well as a written admission of guilt. Afterward, John goes to visit Adrienne at her apartment, but finding her there with Peter Ransome, her paramour, he leaves. Back at the Scott home, John is met by two insurance investigators, who tell him that they suspect "John" was murdered in the subway by his ex-business partner, Harold Phillips, who held a large insurance policy on his partner. Afraid of being convicted of insurance fraud if he admits his true identity, John once again decides to continue being Malcolm. The next morning, John meets Mrs. Van Avery, whom he correctly identifies as being involved in the blackmail sceme with Voles at the Scott home. When Adrienne unexpectely arrives and sees him with Malcolm's old lover, she departs in a jealous rage. John then goes to the Scott Department Store, where Adrienne has assumed control of the family business in her husband's absence. As the store's finances are in complete disarray, Adrienne suggests that they accept a low offer for the department store that has been made to them by businessmen T. J. Mulhausen. John meets with Mulhausen, and learns that Malcolm and the businessman have been embezzling from the store for years. When John threatens to expose Mulhausen, the businessman produces a check forged by Malcolm, which he has been holding over the millionaire's head for years. John grabs the check and eats it before the astonished Mulhausen can react. An elated John returns to the Scott home, where the servants think their master is having one of his "spells," and Paul gives the unsuspecting John a sleeping pill. John then calls a meeting of the Scott family, where, in his drugged state, he attempts to confess all. Unfortunately, no one believes him, and Dr. Simms, a psychiatrist, declares that "Malcolm" is crazier than ever. In the meantime, the two insurance investigators visit Adrienne, and she finally realizes who John really is. She rushes back to the Scott home, only to learn that John has been taken to the asylum. That night, Adrienne helps John escape the hospital, then announces her intention to become "Mrs. John Evans."

Film Details

Release Date
Apr 25, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
General Film Co.; Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Man Who Lost Himself by H. DeVere Stacpoole (New York, 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 12m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,515ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The viewed film was a reissued print and the above credits May not reflect the credits of the film's original release. Henry Stephenson's character is called both "Frederick Collins" and "Hebert Collins" in the film. According to a December 1938 Los Angeles Times item, Leslie Howard acquired the rights to Henry DeVere Stacpoole's novel and planned to produce an independent screen version of it in England. Howard planned to co-direct the production with Anthony Asquith, as well play the lead role. It is possible that this Stacpoole project was canceled after Howard and Asquith produced a film version of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.5442) that same year. A March 1939 Hollywood Reporter news item states that RKO planned to produce their own version of the Stacpoole novel with Howard and Walter Futter acting as producers and Howard and Wendy Hiller playing the leads. Screenwriters Sam and Bella Spewack were signed to write the screenplay in June 1939, but the production was canceled due to the outbreak of World War II.
       In April 1940, Lawrence Fox, president of General Films, revived the project at RKO in association with Futter. Fox's RKO project had a planned budget of $500,000, with shooting to begin in July 1940. A month later, Hollywood Reporter reported that Leslie Howard Productions made a deal with Geofrey Bernard of Grand National Films to produce his own version of the Stacpoole novel. It is not clear if Howard had somehow retained the rights to the novel, but his film was never made. After failing to sign both Cary Grant and Melvyn Douglas for the lead role, Fox moved his project to Universal, where Brian Aherne and Kay Francis assumed the leads and W. P. Lipscomb wrote a draft of the screenplay. Edward Ludwig was later signed in November 1940 to work on the screenplay with Lipscomb. Hollywood Reporter reported in January 1941 that silent film stars Charles Ray and Gertrude Astor were signed to the cast, and while they are listed in Hollywood Reporter production charts, their appearance in the final film could not be confirmed. Hollywood Reporter also reported the casting of Kathryn Adams and Holmes Herbert in the film, but their participation also could not be confirmed. The Man Who Lost Himself marked actor Nils Asther's first American film since 1934. Stacpoole's novel was first filmed under the same title in 1920 by Selznick Pictures Corp., starring William Faversham and Hedda Hopper, and directed by George D. Backer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2783).