Alias Jimmy Valentine

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For the 1920 film, see Alias Jimmy Valentine (1920 film).
Alias Jimmy Valentine
William Haines 1928.jpg
Publicity still of William Haines released for the film
Directed by Jack Conway
Written by Sarah Y. Mason
A. P. Younger (adaptation)
Joseph Farnham (intertitles)
Based on "A Retrieved Reformation" 
by O. Henry
Alias Jimmy Valentine 
by Paul Armstrong
Starring Lionel Barrymore
William Haines
Music by William Axt
Cinematography Merritt Gerstad
Edited by Sam Zimbalist
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • November 15, 1928 (1928-11-15) (United States)
Running time
88 mins.
Country United States
Language Silent
English dialogue
(part-talkie version)

Alias Jimmy Valentine was a 1928 American crime drama film directed by Jack Conway, and starring William Haines, Leila Hyams, Lionel Barrymore, and Karl Dane. The film is based on the O. Henry story "A Retrieved Reformation", which was turned into the 1910 play Alias Jimmy Valentine by Paul Armstrong.[1] The play toured in travelling production companies making it extremely popular. It was revived on Broadway in 1921.[2]

Released on November 15, 1928, the film was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's first partially all-talking film.[3] Two previous film versions were made in 1915 and in 1920 at the old Metro Studios with Bert Lytell.[4] This film is now considered lost.[5]


Jimmy Valentine is the alias of an infamous safe cracker who has just been sentenced to prison for four years for his crimes. He does not stay locked up for long, though, as he is released after ten months. When he is released, he packs his state of the art, custom robbery tools and commits several more robberies. Ben Price, the detective who put him away the first time is called to the case, but although he knows it is Jimmy (because of the style the crimes were committed with) he cannot find him. Jimmy has actually fled and he is currently in the small town of Elmore, Arkansas, with plans to rob the local bank there.

However, he finds himself love struck by the banker's beautiful daughter, Annabel Thomas, and begins to fall in love with her. In order to get such a beautiful girl, he decides to turn over a new leaf and give up his criminal career and take another alias, Ralph D. Spencer. "Ralph" opens a shoe-making store and is very successful in doing so. He even begins to like his new life, and easily wins Annabel's heart, becoming engaged to her. He writes a letter to an old friend, and tells him to meet him in Little Rock, where he will give him his robbery tools he doesn't need anymore. On the day of the exchange, however, the banker shows the town his new safe, that cannot be broken into. Annabel's nieces are amazed at the sheer size of it, and begin to walk in and out of it.

Unfortunately, one accidentally shuts the door, locking the other inside. Everyone panics, as the banker has not set the combination yet, and Annabelle begs "Ralph" to do something. This is hard for Valentine, as Ben Price has also tracked him down, and watches to see his decision. As Jimmy has tried so hard to start over, he finds himself making a very difficult decision. However, he decides that there is only so much air in the safe, and if he does not take action, the terrified child may suffocate. Valentine pulls out his bag of tools and breaks the safe open in a matter of seconds, amazing the banker, and saving the child. (He ironically broke his own record in his haste.) Jimmy knows that since he has revealed his identity, he must leave. As he is leaving, he decides that he may as well go to prison and he surrenders to Ben. However, Ben, who knows that Valentine has truly changed, tells Jimmy he should go to Little Rock, and leaves, pretending that he never saw him.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1921-1930. 1971. p. 12. 
  2. ^ The Routledge Guide To Broadway. Bloom, Ken. CRC Press. 2007. p. 81. ISBN 0-415-97380-5. 
  3. ^ The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography Of 171 Features, 1927 Through 1932. Bradley, Edwin M. McFarland. 2004. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-786-42029-4. 
  4. ^ Langman, Larry (1998). American Film Cycles: The Silent Era. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 182. ISBN 0-313-30657-5. 
  5. ^ Alias Jimmy Valentine at SilentEra

External links[edit]