A disillusioned middle-aged changes his identity, but finds that appearances do not change who you are inside. A man changes his identity, only to realize that appearances are not enough to change one's life. Arthur Hamilton, a middle aged banker, receives a phone call from a person he thought was dead. He is told of a procedure that would allow him to change his identity and disappear. Being unhappy and directionless in his life, he agrees to the procedure. Through extensive plastic surgery and faking his own death, he is changed into Tony Wilson. Though the same age, he appears much younger and is set up with the identity as a successful artist. He also seems to be starting a relationship with a young woman named Nora, but his happiness is short-lived. He drinks too much one night at a party and begins to reveal his previous identity as Arthur Hamilton; however, he is unaware of the fact that the party is made up of other people who have undergone the same procedure placed there to make sure he keeps quiet about his change of identity, and that Nora was an undercover agent for the company that performed the procedure. He officially violates the agreement he has with the company when he visits his wife, posing as a friend of Arthur's. In hearing her perspective -- that she believed him disillusioned in their marriage -- he sees that there is no turning back and requests a change of assignment. Shortly after, he is told that he has been reassigned, only to find that they are going to kill him. In a chilling moment, the plastic surgeon declares it a shame, as Tony was his greatest work, then kills him.
Best part of story, including ending:
I thought this story was incredibly imaginative. It stayed with me long after watching it, and definitely made me think about expectations and directions in life. I also thought Rock Hudson's acting was quite good, and unlike most of his other acting work.
Best scene in story:
The ending, which, as described above, is the plastic surgeon declaring Tony his greatest work before he kills him, is definitely memorable. This is particularly impacting because Tony does not realize until he has already been strapped to the gurney and wheeled down the hall to his imminent doom that he is going to be killed and not simply taken in for more plastic surgery. There is an extended scene of him struggling in vain to get free as the gurney rolls down the hall that is chilling.
Opinion about the main character:
One of the most striking things about Arthur/Tony is that he is so much like everyone is -- he has insecurities and regrets, and dreams that have gone unfulfilled. It is because he is something of an everyman that his story becomes so intriguing, but also because of this that we are able to see that his dreams cannot be further fulfilled by simply changing his appearance; it comes from an inner sense of turmoil that many can likely relate to.