Another Face (1935)

“Broken Nose” Dawson (Brian Donlevy) is a big city gangster who has committed his fair share of crimes — perhaps more than his fair share, and now he’s wanted for murder. He’s as notorious for his face as he is for his crimes, with a distinctively large nose from which his nickname stems.

Desperate to escape punishment, Dawson finds a plastic surgeon willing to give him a brand new face. After the surgery, he leaves New York for Hollywood, where he hopes to start a new life as a screen star, now that he’s been made “beautiful.”

Bandages are removed to reveal Dawson's new face. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Bandages are removed to reveal Dawson’s new face. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Dawson takes on the name “Spencer Dutro III” and presents himself as a millionaire looking to make his way in the movies. By some miracle, despite his lack of acting talent, he’s able to score a role in a new Zenith Studio film.

His costar, Sheila Barry (Phyllis Brooks), happens to be dating Zenith’s publicity director, Joe Haynes (Wallace Ford). Wanting to get out of the PR game and become a producer, Joe tries to butter up “Spencer” the millionaire. But what will happen if the spin doctor gets wind of Dawson’s real identity?

Another Face was directed by Christy Cabbane. The screenplay comes from Garrett Graham and John Twist, based on an original story by Thomas Dugan and Ray Mayer.

Running about ten minutes past an hour, Another Face is a quick watch, humorous but not hilarious and offering some good ol’ fashioned self-deprecation of the movie industry, from its writing to its casting practices to its publicity.

Dawson, with his real knowledge of the criminal underworld, butts heads with those who are experienced in making gangster films, because their ideas about how the scenes should play out aren’t true-to-life! Despite Dawson’s minimal talent, the studio wants more actors like him. And the schemes cooked up by Wallace Ford’s character offer a peek into the ridiculousness of the PR machine.

Dawson performs a scene with his co-star. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Dawson performs a scene with his co-star. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Brian Donlevy is great in his role, nailing both the hard-edged, cruel gangster that Dawson is in New York and the wannabe actor that he becomes in Los Angeles, trying to appear much less tough to his fellow actors and the studio execs, but not becoming so soft that he can’t score an on-screen gangster role.

I’ve previously reviewed one of Donlevy’s starring films, 1949’s Impact. I was impressed with him there as well. By chance, that film also deals with a “brand new life” premise. Donlevy’s character is presumed dead, so he decides to flee his problems and start over in a different town under an assumed name — a much more serious take on the premise than this somewhat silly story of Hollywood’s production process.

A decent Hollywood spoof that’ll give you a chuckle or two, and with a hint of criminal intrigue — I would recommend Another Face to those who enjoy classic gangster films, or enjoy watching Hollywood poke a bit of fun at itself. The score: 3/5

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