The Man Who Reclaimed His Head

By SJWNY, a Trail Mix Contributor

Now & then you see a movie that, though not being the best, nevertheless sticks with you. I grew up in the central Southern Tier of New York State. Our cable company carried the TV station out of Elmira which was something close to UHF + a parody of SCTV’s premise. Every Saturday afternoon they showed obscure black & white films from the 1930s & 40s, probably because they were cheap. A plus side to this was I watched quite a few movies you’ve never heard of & never will. One such film was The Man Who Reclaimed His Head, starring my favorite male actor, Claude Rains. It’s one weird ride. It’s also stayed with me all these years.

The story takes place in 1914-15 France. Paul Verin (Claude Rains) is a writer, specifically about politics. He is a Pacifist. He is also poor & married to Adele (Joan Bennett gone blonde, as wooden & stilted an actress as ever, totally miscast. Her scenes drag. Just talking truth here.) Adele wants to ditch their town & move to Paris. The couple has a daughter, Linette (played by Baby Jane, real name: Juanita Quigley.)

Another fav actor, Lionel Atwill, plays Henri Dumont, a politician with big dreams who, though disagreeing with Verin on many subjects, acknowledges the writer’s brilliance. Dumont makes a deal with Verin: In exchange for ghost writing editorials (to be published under Dumont’s name) Verin will get paid handsomely. Deal done, Dumont gets nationally hailed as a friend of the People & Peace; Adele gets to return to Paris & spend Verin’s new wealth. Then Archduke Franz Ferdinand goes to Sarajevo…..

War! Uh-oh. Pacifism loses a lotta cachet. Rich weapons manufacturers meet with Dumont suggesting he change his views. Dumont, being the politician he is, accepts. Now how to deal with Verin? Why, start charming Adele, who being Adele, is easily swayed by francs, lots of ’em. Dumont rises to power; voters believe him to be a man of integrity based on his editorials. Verin, disgusted, leaves Dumont, eventually ending up in the Army. Rumor gets to Verin that Dumont & Adele are more than just good friends. Verin goes over the edge & gets back to Paris, walking in on Dumont & Adele. Verin pulls out his bayonet & kills Dumont. Not just kills: the title of the movie gives away how Verin does in Dumont. Btw, Verin carries the, uh, trophy in a satchel & takes it with him when he goes & confesses. Yep.

After recounting this oddly affecting movie, I have to say it remains relevant, as far as lying, user Politicians, Arms Dealers & Financiers exploiting war for profit, a gullible Public wanting & willing to believe a message when slickly offered in an uber Patriotic atmosphere, presented with an oh-so-professional believability. I certainly don’t condone violence or murder. Just how far can one be pushed before acting to reclaim your life? Your Country? Funny what a movie from 1934 continues to say even today. Any one listening?

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53 thoughts on “The Man Who Reclaimed His Head”

  1. sjwny, thanks for retelling  a wonderful old movie plot and particular character type within….  the one raines played reminded me much of the joseph cotton’s characters in “citizen kane” and “the third man” and john Ireland’s journalist who at first admired willie stark in “all the king’s men”.   bet many a former wh chief of staff, press and campaign person can relate to those guys.  


  2. Joan Bennett was the aunt of Morton Downey Jr, whose legacy continues to haunt our airwaves today: different faces, same shtick.


  3. ’70s timewarp: my favorite actress is Glenda Jackson & I am fascinated by the ‘beautiful vulgarity’ that defines Ken Russell films. If you ever have an afternoon to kill, watch Russell’s treatment of Isadora Duncan starring Vivian Pickles followed by the Hollywood/Vanessa Redgrave version of the same subject. One is vibrant, odd, memorable; the other is zzzzzzz.

    Vivian Pickles played Mary, Queen of Scots in the series Elizabeth R starring Glenda Jackson. Small world….


  4. I have a soft spot for Oliver Reed, who was not a Great Actor but a Great Presence. He was perfectly cast as Athos in Richard Lester’s Three (and Four) Musketeers.

    He was the nephew of Carol Reed, of The Third Man fame ….. small world.

  5. That movie covers the character of most politicians.  Very few Mr. Smiths have ever existed.

    Craig – Yesterday’s headline on Press Sec. of Brain Farts, Spicer, was great. I think his days are numbered.

    Carter Page. Didn’t xrep (or someone) point him out a few weeks ago?

  6. sjwny, imo reed was the quintessential bill sikes baddie in “oliver twist” …. here he gives acting advice on how to be a villain.

    Published on Apr 17, 2012

    Oliver Reed gives broadcaster Paul Heiney a lesson in acting in this rare clip from the 1985 BBC documentary “In at the deep end”.
    Very funny , classic Oliver and a rare gem !

  7. Dove eggs hatched this morning! Holding off on a picture, Mama seems quite nervous, don’t want to disturb her, she’s got enough to deal with.

  8. can you imagine a pub evening with oliver reed, richard burton, Richard harris and peter o’toole?  am sure fisticuffs ensued before the wonderful but drunken singing began.

  9. Holy Junta!  The generals are in charge and what a change in trump’s brain.   Nothing feminine or female about our country or government anymore.  Obviously trump is not having sex anymore with mel as she stays safe from the locker room in NY.   The whole country has the feel of one big snuff flick for women.    Now trump is threatening to take away all health care funding.  Women need some form of punishment for being women.   But, he keeps his focus on the international…globe first policy.  He lied about America First and the gullible and haters went for it.   and his forest gump AG is on the border….once again caring more about the international instead of US.  Meanwhile we are still building a police state where innocent children are killed in shoot-outs and citizens forcibly dragged-off of planes by the police.


  10. When it comes to war and spies, my favorite old film is The Man Who Never Was starring Clifton Webb and Gloria Grahame in one beautifully tragic scene.

    Full film available on DVD or for watching on You Tube


  11. BB – From the last thread, so sorry to hear of your loss. You wrote a beautiful remembrance for your friend.

    SJWNY – You’ve reviewed today one of my stepdad’s favorite old movies. He used to have it recorded on a VHS tape, and the one day we sat down to watch it together we discovered that the tape had broken. I hadn’t thought of the movie in ages, but now I think I’ll look for it on DVD and get if ro him for his birthday in August if I can find it. I always enjoy when he wants to share these kinds of old shows with me.

    I also concur with your assessment of Oliver Reed. I enjoyed him in The Three Musketeers and Oliver Twist, particularly because of that presence.

  12. bw,  ag secessions might be scouting out the border for a quick get a way.  ‘course the Caymans is prolly closer to where his heart (if he has one) is.

  13. in today’s    the guardian: British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia

    Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

    GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

    Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

    The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance, which also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

    Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

    It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.


    ….both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.

    One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”.

    The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed.

    “It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” the source added. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’

    “The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”


    There are now multiple investigations going on in Washington into Trump campaign officials and Russia. They include the FBI-led counter-espionage investigation and probes by both the House and Senate intelligence committees.

    Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House committee, has expressed an interest in hearing from Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer whose dossier accuses the president of long-term cooperation with Vladimir Putin’s Moscow. Trump and Putin have both dismissed the dossier as fake.

    One source suggested the official investigation was making progress. “They now have specific concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion,” the source said. “This is between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material.”

  14. any of you former prosecutor types out there on the trail see anything sinister (possibly a hint of extortion maybe throw in a pinch of abuse of power) in the twit’s veiled threat “No, it’s not too late, but, you know, I have confidence in him,” Trump responded. “We’ll see what happens”  in that Wednesday interview he did with faux biz?  here’s part of the segment:

    ….Bartiromo asked Trump whether it was a mistake to not ask Comey to step down as director of the FBI.

    Comey confirmed last month that the FBI was looking into potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian government officials aimed at influencing last year’s presidential election, adding that the FBI investigation began in late July.

    “Is it too late now to ask him to step down?” Bartiromo asked.

     . You know, it’s going to be interesting. But, you know, we have to just —

    or just a touch of passive-aggressive behavior as wiki defines it: Passive-aggressive behavior is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.

  15. I have heard that there are already indictments of flynn, manafort, and page; someone is just waiting for the ‘right moment’ to arrest the three for the historic federal perp walks. Presumably, the upshot of this gossip is, the trio are being pressed hard to name names and reveal the extent of the plot(s).

    One can only hope that this gossip is true.

  16. Maybe NBC will offer Oreilly a job they seem interested in all of Fox News used kleenex

  17. Perhaps life copies art, and all of our political failings can be traced back to a strange 1934 movie about a violent pacifist and creepy politicians.

    ‘course, that’s a joke.

  18. Jeez, it’s just like our Vietnam War and russia’s Afghan War, yet again. We’re back to measuring our military achievement by response, lift, fire power, and body counts. After 15.5 years of American occupation, and a decade of russkie occupation, Afghanistan remains untamed. I’m waiting for the orange puffer fish to get bored and declare that in order to save this country we are going to have to annihilate this country.

  19. The DNC needs to let go of the old and embrace the new. 

    bid, can’t get much older than Bernie.  seems they’re taking your advice

  20. cbs news:

    The U.S. dropped a bomb containing 11 tons of explosives on an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province on the border with Pakistan on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to CBS News’ David Martin.

    The bomb is officially called a GBU-43 or Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), leading to its nickname as the “mother of all bombs.” The weapon is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and has never before been used in combat.

    “The strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities,” the Pentagon said in a statement, using the term for the Islamic State’s Afghanistan branch.

  21. whatwith a million here and a million there for the twit to play golf plus last week’s* and today’s bombing**, good thing people are doing their taxes and sending in checks to pay the bills.

    *reportedly each of the 59 cruise missiles costs about $1 million
    **The procurement of four MOABs was commissioned in October 2009 at the hefty cost of $58.4 million, ($14.6 million for each bomb). This amount includes the costs of development and testing as well as integration of the MOAB bombs onto B-2 stealth bombers.

  22. Yup, taxes done. IO, O, O, O.

    And, the √ is in the mail.

    Actually, we sent it through the intertubes, since there’s a convenient office for that right here on my desk.

  23. $92-bux back–increased the withholding on the mandatory IRA withdrawal. I felt your pain last year.

  24. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government unveiled legislation Thursday to fully legalize marijuana, making Canada only the second country to do so, after Uruguay.

    While medical marijuana use has been regulated in this country since 2001, cannabis remains a controlled substance.

    Its legalization and regulation for recreational use is expected in 2018, in time for Canada’s national holiday on July 1.

  25. North Korea unveils new complex ‘more scary than hundreds of nuclear bombs’                                      

    North Korea’s premier says the successful completion of a new residential street and complex is ‘scarier than hundreds of nuclear bombs’ for Pyongyang’s enemies.

  26. Well, they’ve gone and done it now……..this country has elected a little boy to be president.

    I wrote that and then remembered W. oy

  27. Bid

    I have no objection to young blood, but a Bernie endorsement would mean an automatic vote against or stay at home.

  28. From my link above.  It AIN’T  about Bernie.


    “In Kansas, the Democrats barely lifted a finger to help James Thompson, a progressive who came painfully close to winning. That’s a losing strategy

    Since losing the presidency to a Cheeto-hued reality TV host, the Democratic party’s leadership has made it clear that it would rather keep losing than entertain even the slightest whiff of New Deal style social democracy.”

  29. So did I hear this right?  MSNBC just reported that the Trump admin said that they were prepared to launch a pre-emptive non-nuclear military strike this weekend against North Korea if they thought that a North Korean nuclear test was “imminent”.

  30. Yeah, where is that 50 state strategery

    I think the Dems made a big mistake in not fighting in Pompeo’s district they fought from a 20 point deficit to 7 could they have won –hard to say.– they are not however making the same mistake in Price’s District and I think it will go blue

    The only thing the goopers and their enablers understand in defeat

    The candidate in Kansas was a Bernie guy – so where was the revolution- this should have been a priority for the Bernie Bros

    Tom Perez and Bernie are touring red states too bad they didn’t go to Kansas earlier

  31. Roger Stone is scum and today as I was trolling through the tv dial I heard Tweety offering supportive remarks to Stone…

  32. Ahh ….. Athos ……


    One more recommendation for obscure yet strangely memorable films: The Trap (1966) starring Oliver Reed & a name from the ’60s, Rita Tushingham. Bonus points if you remember her. Won’t say more about this film except that Reed plays a Quebecois fur trapper & Tushingham plays his mute bride. Oh & he bought her. Literally. He ends up with one leg. Beware bear traps.




  33. KGC, It’s  a revolution that demands money from the traditional dem machine I reckon. Blue, I call bullschist. If it ain’t about Bernie! then why did you say “the Democratic Party is undermining BERNIE SANDRRS-STYLE CANDIDATES?  For you everything is about Bernie. Bernie lost to Hillary. Lost. If you can’t get half of the votes in your party you can’t fucking beat the other party. The loser doesn’t define the future of the party. Jesus, give it up.

  34. Pogo, HRC’s campaign lost WI, MI, PA, and FL, because it was weak on insider’s, lobbyists, Wall Street, worker rights and security, and leveling the playing field. The DNC & the DLC are losers, and will continue to be as long as they keep ignoring the issues of the lower and middle classes in middle America. Losers.

    Btw, Ms Dallas did not write ‘Bernie’, she wrote ‘Bernie-like candidates’. There’s a difference.

  35. XR, I quoted her. We’re talking about 2 different things. I don’t dispute the holes in hrc’s campaign. Btw, Bernie beat hrc in 2 of the 4 states you mentioned – she beat him in the other 2. I said and continue to say that if you can’t get > 1/2 of your party’s primary contests you can’t win the election. If your revolution relies on funding from the party machine it’s not the revolution you claim. Contrast Obama and Bernie’s campaigns as an example.

  36. I don’t mean style, and I don’t think Ms Dallas does either. But, it’s damned hard to GOTV successfully for a candidate that doesn’t appeal, in a dynamic way, to the pain of the moment. If HRC had spent the summer months talking about 1. levelling the playing field in the class war, 2. making corporations pay a big price to workers for outsourcing to commie China, and 3. being able to and committed to draining the corrupt DC swamp, because she knows it better than anyone, I think she could have won. And, I mean won YUUUUJ bigly. And those 3 were Bernie talking points. Those were also trump’s talking points, and as a result he’s in the White House.

  37. Besides, I would rather contrast Bernie’s and trump’s campaigns with HRC’s campaign than Bernie v Obama. Sanders came out of nowhere, raised an enormous sum of money in Hamiltons and Jacksons, and the deadbeat won 306 – 229. Those two facts speak to the Clinton Campaign’s losing message and style.

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