The popular screen romantic team of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell shocked and surprised their fans in the ultra-melodramatic The Man Who Came Back. Based on a 1916 stage success, the film atypically casts Gaynor as Angie, a San Francisco nightclub chanteuse who degenerates into drug addiction. In a parallel development, drunken playboy Steve Randolph (Farrell, in another bit of offbeat casting) destroys his reputation by writing bad checks. Only when Angie and Steve have both reached the dregs in a Shanghai opium den do they find each other and fall in love. It's a hard, uphill climb, but hero and heroine manage to clean themselves up in time for a happy ending. The scenes in which Janet Gaynor is established as a "doper" are quite raw for their time, especially when one considers the actress's normally virginal screen image.
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