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The Way of All Flesh

The Way of All Flesh(1940)

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In 1925, in Linzua, Pennsylvania, Hungarian immigrant Paul Kriza makes an honest living as a bank cashier, content to support his devoted wife Anna and four children on a meager salary. Paul's boss, Franz Henzel, sends him to New York to deliver $100,000 cash to client Sandor Nemzetti. Varno, a spy in Henzel's bank, has notified crook Reginald L. Morten of Paul's arrival at the Hotel Empress. When Nemzetti is delayed, Morten's moll, Mary Brown, poses as a journalist and seduces Paul into drinking until he passes out. Upon awakening the next morning, Paul realizes that he has been robbed and accuses Mary, but she pretends not to know him. Morten's men then knock him out and put him on the railroad tracks. While one of them picks his pockets, Paul wakes and defends himself, and the thug is killed by an oncoming train. The police find Paul's inscribed watch on the tracks and assume that the mutilated corpse is Paul, and the papers report that a cashier died a hero's death while defending his trust. Although Paul recognizes his picture in the paper, no one believes that he is Paul Kriza because Mary had him shave off his beard, and his badly beaten body makes him look like a hobo. Suffering from psychological devastation and partial amnesia, Paul wanders the streets of New York for years, unsure of who he is. Meanwhile, his son Paul, Jr. grows up and becomes a world-class violinist. When Paul, Jr. makes his New York debut, his father is in the audience and cries when he plays his father's favorite piece for his encore. Paul, Jr. returns home to Linzau for Christmas and his father follows. He watches as his family visits his grave, then follows them home and peers in the window as they sing Christmas carols. When a policeman tries to arrest him, Paul, Jr. and Anna invite the stranger inside, but he declines and walks away into the snowy night.