The main plot idea in this film is that two cousins are completely alike physically--so much so that when one substitutes for another no one knows! Although this is a familiar film and TV theme (such as in "The Patty Duke Show"), it is rather stupid--cousins don't look THAT close to each other and how could they account for the same voice and mannerisms? My advice is to try to look past this impossibility and just enjoy this wonderful film. And, by the way, that's my same advice for another Ronald Colman film made just a few years later--where, in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, you are expected to believe that distant cousins are spitting images! Now, provided you can look past all this, the film is actually quite good.
The film begins with Ronald Colman #1. He's a drug-addicted member of the British parliament and his party is disappointed in him again and again because he is almost totally incapacitated by the drug he drinks. They never really say WHAT it is--I assume it's Laudanum. Anyways, when this falling down addict discovers that he's got a long lost and identical cousin (Ronald Colman #2), he begs the cousin to take his place. Unfortunately, things do too well--as the longer the substitute pretends to be the once-great parliamentarian, the bigger his reputation becomes! To make things worse, Ronald Colman #1's estranged wife is now attracted to who she THINKS is her husband and Ronald Colmen #2 is too nice a guy to just sleep with her! The whole thing sounds a bit comedic, but it's not. However, it is a nice drama with romantic overtones.
What makes it so good is the wonderful performances by Colman (he is his usual erudite self) as well as good writing--particularly the ending which is NOT what you'd normally expect and increased my love for this film immensely.
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