This is a nice little noirish thriller with some beautiful atmospheric cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.
Years ago, French diplomat David Talbot (William Powell) received severe head injuries in a train crash that left him with total amnesia. After 13 years of treatment by neurologist/psychiatrist Dr. Tessier (Felix Bressart), everything is looking up for Talbot. He has been married for just three months to the ravishing Lucienne (Hedy Lamarr) and looks certain to get an appointment as French ambassador to Brazil.
Then out of nowhere, a man appears claiming that Talbot is really Jean Pelletier and owes him one million francs. At Talbot’s trial for this debt, Pelletier is revealed to have been a murderer and thief. The man’s claim is backed by a Mme. Allain from Pelletier’s past (Claire Trevor). However, at the last minute, Henri Sarrou (Basil Rathbone) saves the day by testifying that Pelletier died in the train wreck.
But the trial testimony is but a prelude to an elaborate and ruthless blackmailing campaign by Sarrou, assisted by Mme. Alland who claims to have been Pelletier’s mistress. The rest of the story details Talbot’s efforts to keep his wife in the dark while dealing with the increasingly dire threats coming from Sarrou.
The ending is a bit too abrupt and pat but the film is an enjoyable watch with a particularly menacing performance by Rathbone. The cinematography is the equal of anything done by the multiple Academy Award winning Ruttenberg.