The film was based on a 1910 stage play by Paul Armstrong, which in turn was based on the short story "A Retrieved Reformation" by O. Henry. An earlier version of the play was filmed in 1915, and a later version, also called Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928) and starring William Haines, was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
1915 maurice tourneur alias jimmy valentine visual highlights
Based upon a review in a film magazine, Jimmy Valentine (Lytell), a prisoner in Sing Sing for safe-cracking, although guilty, maintains his innocence. When he obtains a pardon, he goes straight, influenced by a beautiful girl (Vale). He assumes a new identity as Lee Randall and diligently works at a bank for three years. When he is about to get married, Detective Doyle comes to town with proof of Valentine's guilt. However, the Randall identity is complete, and just as the detective is convinced and about to leave, word comes that a little girl is trapped in the bank safe and no one has the combination. Although the detective is nearby, Valentine uses his skills to open the safe, knowing that it will give away his identity. After the girl is rescued, the detective decides to leave without arresting Valentine.