In 1930 many films were very static and stilted, but not "Man to Man". Allan Dwan was a great and inventive director. There are many scenes with camera movements of people walking down the streets. It's a beautifully photographed film. There are interesting psychological images : The bank teller of Mike is a giant cage, a prison, to convey that Mike is emotionally imprisoned. Mike or other people ascend the stairs when a revelation or something difficult is about to happen.
It's an intense drama of powerful human interest. The action takes place in Hardinsville, a small southern town, where Barber John (Grant Mitchell), after 18 years in prison, returns to start life again. His son Mike (Phillips Holmes) is suffering and ashamed of his father's past. The manner in which both learn to love each other provides a story of compelling interest. This was Grant Mitchell's first appearance in a talking picture. He gives a performance of moving sincerity. The younger leads played by Phillips Holmes and Lucille Powers are also extremely well done. Phillips Holmes (good-looking as always) was at his best in a dramatic role, not in comedy. He was a quiet actor whose characters often came forth deeper than the role asked for. With a good director and a dramatic role he was a great actor. He could be very bland (in "Confessions of a Co-Ed"or "Caravan") and he could be brilliant (in "The Devil's Holiday", "American Tragedy" or "Broken Lullaby"). In this film he is perfect, totally convincing and intense in his repressed feelings, emotionally imprisoned and hiding his feeling away. He does not act but he IS his character.
Only in the initial scenes in the fraternity house the actors are a bit awkward. Some of the opening scenes of the sport competition look like stock footage while in other takes it is really Phillips Holmes jumping over the hurdles.