Who was Julian Karell, and where did he come from? What manner of man was he? For some, he was a fine, incredibly courageous scientist who lost track of truth. Another man claims that Karell was a cold-blooded murderer and a remarkable criminal. Lastly, we hear from a woman named Eve, who claimed he was tender and fine, a man with a dream; he dared more than mortal man may ever dare.
After the opening montage of people expressing their opinions, we see Julian Karell (Nils Asther) himself as he meets with Eve (Helen Walker) at a gathering to unveil a new portrait of Eve he painted. Fellow men at the gathering are jealous of Julian, especially Eve’s closeness to him. As the painting is presented, many claim how remarkable it is, and some notice similarities to a painting from the past. Julian and Eve are so obsessed with one another that Julian even proposes to her, and she accepts without hesitation. However, little does Eve know that Julian is hiding a dark secret he’s kept for quite some time. Julian is, in fact, a scientist who made a fantastic discovery on how to live forever. All that is required are gland transplants done every ten years. Sadly, some donors are not always willing. Presently another transplant is required, and Julian is faced with many challenges. These include making sure the transplant is done in time, finding his next victim, and maintaining his secret identity as those around him become increasingly suspicious.
The Man in Half Moon Street introduces a fascinating concept in the story and carries fantasy, sci-fi, and thriller elements. As the film begins, it’s evident that Julian is hiding a dark secret, and the story is clever enough to provide subtle hints about Julian’s past, especially when he interacts with older people. He seems to be aware of the past, including specifics of people’s history and romances. The introduction also briefly explains that something horrible and tragic has occurred, but whether Julian is a good or mean person is a mystery for viewers.
Performance-wise, I must commend Nils Asther as Julian. He provides the best performance throughout the entire film. He’s mysterious and lurks around with consistent suspicion and caution. His line deliveries throughout and even how he uses his eyes and body language are entertaining. Helen Walker as Eve, for the most part, is fine, but her character carries a familiar formula: being head over heels in love and unaware of Julian’s true notions and desires. Set designs are fantastic, and there are plenty of creative moments behind the camera, thanks to the director Ralph Murphy. Murphy keeps the film engaging for the entire duration, leaving audiences eager to know all the leads’ secrets and outcomes.
Overall, The Man in Half Moon Street has many beautiful ingredients to admire. From the opening alone, there’s a fun mystery to unravel, and as the film progresses, it introduces a story filled with fantasy and sci-fi. I found actor Nils Asther was brilliant as Julian, and he’s easily the biggest highlight of the entire film. Thanks to director Ralph Murphy, I found this film engaging and creative. It’s nearly impossible not to be curious and invested, desiring a positive outcome for the main leads.
The Man in Half Moon Street (1945) is Now Available on Blu-ray thanks to Imprint Films.