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The Man Who Played God

(1932 b 81')

En: 6 Ed: 7

In this adaptation of Jules Eckert Goodman's play The Silent Voice a pianist goes deaf, learns to read lips, and becomes a philanthropist.

In Paris Mildred (Violet Heming) would like to marry Monty; but he hasn't asked her since he is in love with young Grace (Bette Davis). The pianist Monty (George Arliss) is going to dedicate a church organ to his late mother, who suffered from hereditary deafness. Monty agrees to marry Grace in six months if she still loves him. Harold hopes to see Grace more after Monty leaves. In his last concert of the tour, a king arrives late. Monty plays for him, but revolutionaries explode a bomb, causing Monty to become deaf.

In New York Grace helps Monty, writing notes to him. Monty tells her to go away, because he is an empty shell. Monty learns to read lips. He tells Mildred he has changed, asking how could God allow horrible things to happen, hating God, and saying there is no God. Mildred says he never suffered before, and this is his great test. Grace tells Monty she is going to Santa Barbara, but he declines to go with her. Monty tells his butler Battle (Ivan F. Simpson) to remove the piano, and he smashes his violin. Monty tries to jump out the window, but Battle stops him, calling him a coward. Monty sees cruelty in nature, looking through the binoculars Grace left there. Battle says contrasts make life wonderful. Monty reads the lips of a sick man who must stop working for a year to recover; but he needs $1000. His girlfriend could get the money from her boss; but he objects and then prays. Monty sends Battle with a note that promises the money. Monty laughs at God, and then wonders if God is laughing at him.

After a month in Santa Barbara Grace kisses Harold. Monty watches children and sends them toys. He is living for others but getting selfish enjoyment. Monty tells Mildred that doubts and fears are only shadows; he feels he is a partner with God. He helps a young couple by getting theft charges dropped so that they can marry. Mildred tells Monty not to spy on Grace and Harold; he learns that Grace loves Harold but intends to keep her promise to Monty. Monty tells Grace he doesn't want to lose her as a friend, and she realizes he read their lips. Monty says their love was music, but that string snapped. Monty finds Mildred at the organ to be dedicated, and he plays for the king (Christ).

This spiritually uplifting story shows how, when forced to give up his greatest talent, a man finds new meaning in life by helping others. He is wise enough to realize it would not be good for Grace to sacrifice herself for him when she is now in love with a man her own age.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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