The Man Who Reclaimed His Head

The Man Who Reclaimed His Head is a 1934 American drama film directed by Edward Ludwig and written by Jean Bart and Samuel Ornitz. The film stars Claude Rains, Joan Bennett, Lionel Atwill, Juanita Quigley, Henry O'Neill and Henry Armetta. The film was released on December 24, 1934, by Universal Pictures.[1][2][3]

The Man Who Reclaimed His Head
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdward Ludwig
Produced byCarl Laemmle, Jr.
Screenplay byJean Bart
Samuel Ornitz
StarringClaude Rains
Joan Bennett
Lionel Atwill
Juanita Quigley
Henry O'Neill
Henry Armetta
Music byHeinz Roemheld
CinematographyMerritt B. Gerstad
Edited byMurray Seldeen
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 24, 1934 (1934-12-24)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States


Paul Verin walks through the streets of 1915 Paris carrying his small daughter Linette on one arm and a black satchel on the other. Arriving at the home of Paul’s boyhood friend, attorney Fernand De Marnay, Paul relates the events that led him there.

Five years ago Paul and his wife Adele lived in Clichy. They lived off what Paul could make with his political writings. Adele loves Paul but she is unhappy living in Clichy. She wants to live in Paris. To make enough money to move to Paris, Paul accepts an offer to write political articles for aspiring politician Henri Dumont agreeing to let Dumont take credit as the author. Dumont has political aspirations and the anti-war editorials make Dumont popular. Paul and wife are able to live in Paris comfortably. Dumont’s rising popularity attracts the interest of a group of wealthy arms dealers who would like the editorials to move toward a pro-war viewpoint. Paul is an avowed pacifist and refuses to write such articles for Dumont.

When war breaks out, Dumont uses his influence to see that Paul is sent to the front. Paul becomes a corporal and see action at Verdun. Paul is given leave to see Adele. At the railroad station, Paul finds his leave has been cancelled. He hears a rumor that not only is Dumont spending time with Adele but Dumont is also responsible for his leave being cancelled. On hearing this, Paul boards the train to Paris. He is arrives at his home and discovers Dumont attempting to force himself on Adele. Enraged, Paul uses his bayonet to kill Dumont.

Paul reveals the contents of his satchel to de Mornay. While not graphically shown on screen, the implication of the scene is that the satchel contains the severed head of Dumont.[4] Paul had 'lost his ‘head’ to Dumont and now he has it back.

Adele arrives with the police. De Mornay will be able to get an acquittal for Paul.



The film was based on a 1932 stage play which also starred Rains. Jean Arthur played Verin's wife.[5] In the play, the character of Paul Verin was physically malformed and suffered from various ailments. In the film, he did not. Though it isn't known why the change was made, it was likely Rains' choice.[6]

Neither the play or the film were successful. The play closed after only 23 performances and the film was did not sell many tickets.[7]


  1. "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934) – Overview". Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  2. Sennwald, Andre (1935-01-09). "Movie Review – The Man Who Reclaimed His Head – Claude Rains in "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head,' at the Rialto – 'Mystery Woman' at the Mayfair". Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  3. "The Man Who Reclaimed His Head". Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  4. Senn, Bryan (2006). Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Critical Filmography of Terror Cinema, 1931–1939. McFarland. p. 454. ISBN 978-0-7864-2724-6.
  5. Skaal, David W. with Rains, Jessica. Claude Rains: an actor's voice. University of Kentucky, 2010, paperback edition. pgs. 67-68.
  6. Skaal, pg. 85
  7. Soister, John T with Wioskowski, JoAnna. Claude Rains: A Comprehensive Illustrated Reference to His Work in Film, Stage, Radio, Television and Recordings. McFarland and Company Publishers, 1999. Pg. 34
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