Movie Mirrors Index

The Masquerader

(1933 b 77')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Based on the novel by Katherine Thurston and the play by John Hunter Booth and with dialog by Moss Hart, a cousin takes the place of a drug-addicted member of Parliament during a crisis and falls in love with the man’s estranged wife.

         People in England are rioting in the streets because they need work. In the House of Commons a note is passed to John Chilcote (Ronald Colman). He stands up to speak and says the national affairs will adjust themselves according to the government. Then he stumbles on words and collapses. He is led out of the chamber and says he does not need a doctor. Chilcote goes to the bar and mixes something in a drink and drinks it down. He tells his colleagues to say he is overworked. Fraser (David Torrence) insists he be given an explanation soon. Chilcote goes outside, and his servant Brock (Halliwell Hobbes) urges him to drive. Chilcote is walking and bumps into his cousin, John Loder (Ronald Colman). Chilcote is amazed how alike they look. Loder suggests he is his double. Loder reprimands him for not helping those who were counting on him. Loder says he could make a speech, and Chilcote dismisses him as a Hyde Park orator and walks away.

         Brock calls Eve Chilcote (Elissa Landi) in Paris, and she agrees to come back. A woman asks her why she is going back to him, and Eve says she married him because she loved him.

         Diana Joyce (Juliette Compton) is waiting in a room and kisses Chilcote when he comes in. She asks what happened, and he says it was nerves. She left in a hurry too and says Mr. Fraser was very upset. Fraser told him to be at his house tomorrow at nine. Diana urges him to forget his speeches. Chilcote says he hates other people, but he saw a man who looks like him. He considers walking out of his life and forgetting. He asks Eve to run away with him, but she says no.

         At his humble home Loder has his lunch of hash brought by a woman. She hands him a letter. He opens it and finds a £5 note. He says he has been published.

         Brock breaks a window to get into Chilcote’s room and finds him on the floor. He rouses him and makes him stand up. Eve is welcomed home and says hello to Fraser and Lakely (Claude King). She says she has come home so that Chilcote will not fail them again. She says he is England’s only chance. Chilcote is dressed and quarrels with Brock. Eve tells the two men to let Chilcote speak. He comes into the room and asks them to leave him alone if they want him to speak. Fraser gives him another chance, and they leave. Chilcote tells Eve not to interfere in his affairs. He goes in the back yard, and she follows him. She tells him he could be one of England’s great men. She says she knows, and he assumes she means Diana. She offers to help him, and he suggests she could help more by remaining in Paris. He goes in and looks for his medicine but cannot get the cupboard open. Brock bring his breakfast, and Chilcote demands the key. He breaks into the cabinet and puts the powder in a drink. He sees the newspaper, and Brock says it is Lakely’s editorial. The butler tells Chilcote he must respond to the crisis. Chilcote fires him, but the man refuses to quit and goes out. Brock tells Chilcote he must go to the House. Brock says he cannot be dismissed because his family served him. Brock calls him a disgrace, but Chilcote asks him to get someone else. Chilcote tells him to get Loder and goes out to get him himself.

         Chilcote is taken in a taxi to Cliffords Inn and walks in on Loder, who is typing. Chilcote tells him he has chance to do something for England. Chilcote falls on the floor. Brock has followed him. Chilcote shows him the editorial and tells him to speak in the House of Commons. Chilcote says he has to be alone and rest. Brock comes in and takes Loder for Chilcote. Then he sees that Chilcote is unconscious. Brock tells Loder that Chilcote needs sleep. Brock tells Loder that he can speak, and he will fool them all. Loder says he cannot speak. Brock says it is a critical time for the nation. Loder says it is too risky, but he gets dressed. Brock tells him Chilcote’s mannerisms. Brock notices a scar on Loder’s left wrist. Brock tells him where his seat in the house is, and Loder leaves.

         Fraser and Lakely are waiting. A policeman says hello to Loder, and Fraser and Lakely take him for Chilcote too. He goes in to speak and takes his seat. Loder looks around and sees Eve looking at him. He is recognized and stands up to speak. A man laughs, and Loder comments that the world they have known is dead. They do not hear the cries of a new world being born. There is misery in the midst of abundance while thousands starve. He asks if they should be idle while machines put more men out of work. He says they must make the machines serve them.

         Journalists begin responding to his speech. Loder says their only allegiance is to all humanity. They must provide all men with food and clothes and leisure. They must fight to win back their own souls. He sits down, and the House is excited by his speech. He goes out quickly, and Fraser and Lakely accompany him to his house in his car.

         Loder says he forgot his key, and they are let in by the butler. Fraser says that he is shaken up. Loder suggests a drink, and they notice no one is there yet. They know where the whiskey is. People are arriving in the garden. Diana sees Eve and pretends to be friendly. Eve says she is there to stay. The butler tells Loder that Madame Chilcote wants to see him. Diana comes in and calls him “Jack.” She puts her hands on his shoulders and commends his speech. He tells her to wait until they are alone. The two are left alone, and she kisses him. He is surprised and steps back. She asks if it is Eve. She says he should have told her that his wife came back. She hugs him and says they should go away together. He asks her to excuse him and goes out. He puts on a hat and tries to avoid people. In the garden he is congratulated. He sees Eve looking at him and welcomes her.

         Brock offers to call Diana’s car for her. Eve tells Loder that he has not spoken nicely to her in years. Inside Brock tells Loder that he cannot rouse Chilcote. He explains that Diana is Chilcote’s mistress, and he suggests diplomacy. Loder asks who Eve is, and Brock says she is his wife; but he is not on good terms with her because she knows about the other one. In the garden an older doctor takes Loder to Eve. Loder agrees he is under a great strain.

         Loder relaxes in his bedroom and talks to Brock who is laying out his pajamas. Loder says he could not stay there tonight. Brock says he must, and he has everything he needs. Brock says he will be safe. Loder asks about a door. Brock says it is Eve’s bedroom, and it has been locked for years.

         Brock attends to drunk Chilcote who is laying on Loder’s bed. Loder comes in and says Brock has been giving him the same excuse every day. Chilcote demands to know who is there. Chilcote gets up but collapses in Brock’s arms. Brock takes him back to bed and asks Loder if he wants Chilcote to go back. Loder says he will go back.

         Loder returns to the Chilcote home and finds Eve playing piano. She stayed up to see him. She says he has changed so much, and she is proud of him. She tells him not to do too much. They may work him too hard. She answers the phone and says it is for him. He tells her not to go. Diana on the phone demands to see Jack that night. She warns him he had better come, but he says he cannot get there. Eve says she is glad he is not going out. He asks if they have to go to Fraser’s tomorrow night, and she says he accepted. She goes upstairs, and he says goodnight. In his room he looks at her photo on the desk.

Diana calls and hires the best detective at an agency. Loder picks up a book, and the butler brings in wine. He hears a knock and says, “Come in.” Eve opens the door and comes in. He says he almost knocked at her door. She forgives him. She feels cold, and he adds wood to the fire. She sits on the bed under a comforter. She says she loves him more now than ever. She loves the new John but not the old John. He says a man should be proud of a woman’s love, and she takes his hand. He walks to the fire and looks at the scar on his wrist. She follows him, and he embraces and kisses her. He asks if they are being absurd. He says he wants to be left alone to live his own life in his own way. He says she went to France, and she says she could not stand his cruelty; but he is a different man now. She does not want to leave him again. He takes a drink and says a good speech in Commons did this for her. She is upset and goes back into her bedroom and closes the door.

         Diana asks the detective if that is all. He says it is a detailed report. Brock goes to see Chilcote and tells him he must come back because Loder refuses to go on with it. Chilcote acts irrationally and raps a shadow on the wall with his cane. Brock says he cannot go on with Diana. Robbins (Helen Jerome Eddy) comes in, and Chilcote demands the medicine. He tells  Brock to get out or he will tell her everything. Brock leaves, and Chilcote takes his drug. He is jealous of Loder and tells Robbins to lay out his evening clothes so he can go out.

         At a dance Diana tells the detective to watch Loder, who is dancing with an older lady who dances with prime ministers. Fraser greets Eve and says her returning to John has worked out well. Diana dances with a man and asks if Chilcote has a double. Loder eyes her warily. She asks him where he has been and demands to dance with him. He dances with her.

         Chilcote takes a taxi to the river club. Diana asks Loder if one man can look exactly like another, but he says that is ridiculous. She says he is like a different person now. She says he has changed and sees the scar on his wrist. She goes to the detective. Loder goes to Eve and asks her to trust him. He says they must get away at once. They start to leave, but Diana speaks to them. She says he is impersonating Chilcote. While they are talking, Chilcote comes in. Loder sees him coming and steps out of sight. Fraser asks if he has a scar, and Diana looks at his wrist and sees no scar. Chilcote asks for a drink, and Diana says no. Eve goes out.

         Loder asks Brock why he brought Chilcote to his place. He says his part is done, and he is leaving for Canada. Brock says there is an emergency of the cabinet. Parliament is adjourning tonight. Brock says there is misery for Eve if he does not. Loder agrees to do this one thing. Brock tells  Robbins to take care of Chilcote, and he leaves to get a doctor. Chilcote is glad to see Robbins and asks her for his medicine. Chilcote says they are coming for him. Brock returns with the doctor, who says that Chilcote is dead. He asks his name, and Robbin says his name is John Loder. Brock confirms this.

         Loder looks at Eve’s picture. Brock comes in. Loder says the masquerade is over and says goodbye. Brock says he cannot go back to his place because John Loder died. Loder says he has no right. He cannot go on living a lie. Brock says it was his grandfather’s name. Loder says there are other reasons. Brock says he means Eve. She comes down the stairs, and Brock asks him to change his mind about going out. Eve wants him to stay, and she calls him John Loder. He realizes she knows. She says she is not sorry. She says he protected her and was loyal to him. He says he wanted to see her again, and he confesses that he loves her. Brock lets Fraser come in. He tells Loder he must go to Geneva this evening. John says it depends on his wife, and Eve says he accepts. She asks John to come back, and he says he will.

         This romantic drama implies that the governing class is like an addict who cannot function while people are starving; but a common man taken for the member of Parliament is able to make speeches that arouse people to solve their humanitarian problems. The elite are also like an adulterer; but the true wife and the common man fall in love while he acts to save the country.

Copyright © 2010 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index