Hal Skelly (Hap Brown), William Powell (Gordoni), Fay Wray (Marie), Kay Francis (costumed by Travis Banton) (Kitty Parker), E.H. Calvert (Dawson), Paul Lukas (Count Boris), Agostino Borgato (Pierre, café proprietor), Jacques Vanaire (valet), Torben Meyer (waiter), Jean De Briac (sculptor), Bob Perry (barman).
Directors: MONTA BELL (silent version), DOROTHY ARZNER (sound version). Dialogue director: Robert Milton. Photography: Arthur Miller. Additional photography: Charles Lang. Screenplay: George Manker Watters, Howard Estabrook. Based on the short story, "The Feeder", by Mildred Cram, published in Red Book magazine, May, 1926. Film editor: Doris Drought. Songs: "My Pals", "Say It with Your Feet", "I'll Remember, You'll Forget" (all sung by Hal Skelly) by Leo Robin, Sam Coslow and Newell Chase (all working in tandem). Make-up: Jim Collins. Mr Powell's Italian dialogue coach: Lydia d'Agostino. Sound recording: Harry D. Mills. Producer: Monta Bell. Presented by Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky.
Copyright 8 January 1930 by Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. New York opening at the Paramount: 16 January 1930. U.S. release: 11 January 1930. 8 reels. 6,364 feet. 70 minutes. Formerly available on a VintageFilmBuff DVD that I would rate 10/10. Excellent sound and strong, atmospheric lighting.
SYNOPSIS: A charismatic but thoroughly unscrupulous would-be comedian steals an honest American clown's act—and his girl!
NOTES: Director Karl Anton made a French-language version for Paramount starring Saint-Granier, Robert Burnier, Rosine Deréan and Edwige Feuillière in the roles played by Skelly, Powell, Wray and Francis respectively. Saint-Granier himself wrote the dialogue and also adapted the screenplay in collaboration with Paul Schiller. Entitled Maquillage, the movie was released in France in 1932.
COMMENT: Superbly, brilliantly, charismatically photographed by Arthur Miller, "Behind the Make-Up", thanks to its often black-as- midnight lighting effects, emerges as one of the darkest film noirs ever made. True, William Powell with his phony accent does his best to undermine Miller's work, but Skelly and Wray register well.