The Man Who Played God

The Man Who Played God

Infobox Film
name = The Man Who Played God

image_size =
caption =
director = John G. Adolfi
producer = Jack L. Warner
Darryl F. Zanuck
writer = Julien Josephson
Maude T. Howell
starring = George Arliss
Bette Davis
Louise Closser Hale
music = Leo F. Forbstein
cinematography = James Van Trees
editing = William Holmes
distributor = Warner Bros. Pictures
released = flagicon|US February 20, 1932
runtime = 80 min.
country = USA
language = English/French
amg_id = 1:101398
imdb_id = 0023181

"The Man Who Played God" is a 1932 film drama produced by Warner Brothers.

It was directed by John G. Adolfi and starred George Arliss, Violet Heming, Bette Davis, in one of her earliest important roles, Louise Closser Hale and Alan Cook. Hedda Hopper and Ray Milland (billed as "Raymond Milland") also appear in small roles.

It was adapted from a short story by Gouverneur Morris (great-grandson of the 18th-century statesman of that name) and the play "The Silent Voice" by Jules Eckert Goodman. An earlier version made in 1922 also starred George Arliss.

Warner Brothers remade the film in 1955 as "Sincerely Yours" with Liberace playing the Arliss role.


A musician, Montgomery Royale (played by George Arliss) gives a private performance for a visiting monarch, and is injured when a bomb is detonated in an attempt to assassinate the monarch. Deafened by the blast and with his music career ruined as a result, Royale returns to New York City with his sister (Louise Closser Hale), a close friend Mildred (Violet Heming) and his fiancee Grace(Bette Davis).

After considering suicide his discovers that he can lip-read and spends time watching people walking in Central Park. As he learns of people's problems he tries to help them by arranging for gifts to be sent to them anonymously. He becomes absorbed in his game of "playing God" but his actions are without sincerity. He witnesses a conversation between Grace and a young man (Donald Cook) and realizes that Grace has fallen in love with this man. She tells him she must end the romance so that she can tend to Royale, and Royale is moved by the generosity of her sacrifice. He confronts her and ends their engagement, allowing her to follow her heart.

Royale continues to act as a philanthropist, but his attitude is changed and his motives become altruistic. He draws closer to Mildred and the film ends with a suggestion of romance developing between the two.


The film was popular with audiences and critics, and after several unsuccessful film ventures, brought Bette Davis some recognition. For the rest of her life, she credited Arliss and his insistence on casting her in this film, as the beginning of her acceptance as an actress in Hollywood.

"The New York Times" reviewed the film favourably, commenting on the "masterful" performance of Arliss and the "excellence" of Violet Heming, but noted that Davis "often speaks too rapidly for the microphone". "Weekly Variety" also praised the film and commented on Davis as a "vision of wide-eyed blonde beauty.


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