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Back in the mid 70's I was watching a late-night scary show called Shock Theater. Every Saturday night they played old horror movies. One night I saw bits and pieces of this black and white movie that had to have been made in the 40's.

It seems like the plot took place during or after World War I. I remember seeing biplanes in the movie. A guy (Man One) begins the plot by sitting in a room and speaking to another man. Man One has a bag with him. The rest of the movie is mostly a flashback to what has already happened. At the end of the movie it returns to the two guys talking and Man One opens the bag and reveals a human head inside it. Not much in the way of horror since it was mostly a thriller instead. I gathered that Man One had some issue with the dead guy throughout the movie and ended up killing him and removing his head.

Which movie was this?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are a couple of possible suspects for this film, one is a later remake of the first.

The first is a Claude Rains movie from 1935, "The Man who Reclaimed His Head".

Here is the IMDB entry, and here is a synopsis. Basically, a writer during WW I sells out his integrity (Or his "head"), and ghost writes anti war editorials for a man that sells out to pro war interests and steals his wife. He gets his revenge, and shows up at the police station with the mans head in a bag. This is all told in flashback.

It was remade in 1945 as "Strange Confessions" with Lon Chaney Jr. (Plot summary here), and in this version, the protagonist goes to South America to perfect a flu cure, and the person that sends him uses the cure too soon and kills the protagonists son, and steals his wife. Again with the head in a bag, in this case the protagonist shows up at a lawyers house.

Given that you state it was a WW I era movie, I would guess that you actually saw the first version. The wiki entry for Shock Theater does not list either of these movies, however it does list the title "Calling Dr. Death", which if you look at the cover shot on IMBD for Strange Confessions, it shows it as a double bill for Dr. Death/Strange Confessions.

Lon Chaney movies - Inner Sanctum collection

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Good digging, John. –  Nobby Nov 14 '13 at 15:40
    
John, you are the Master!! Thank you very much! –  user19571 Nov 14 '13 at 18:57

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