I just had to go check, not long into the film, that Olivia de Havilland didn’t in fact have a twin! She had to, right? This is 1946, there is no way camera tricks are this advanced? It seems that, only in the last 10 or so years, they’ve been able to pull off the perfect effect of having the same person play doppelgangers. There always seemed to be a tell of sorts, eyes looking in the wrong place, maybe a slight haze around one of the characters where they have been added, always something that gave it away. Flash forward to the present and we have TV shows like Counterpart where we get two JK Simmons wander around flawlessly interacting with each other but how did they do it 72 years ago? Ok I know there are some a few tale tale signs but it’s really astonishing how they pulled it off so believably, most credit due I must add to Olivia de Havilland’s skillful acting talent.
With the opening credits being shown over the top of Rorschach’s inkblot test cards you know you going to be for some thrilling psychological movie fun. When the camera starts rolling we get introduced to a dark lit room, there seems to have been a disturbance, a lamp on it’s side on the carpet, the camera rises to expose a shattered mirror. Panning out around the room, we glimpse a figure on the floor, it’s the body of a man, a lifeless man who happens to have a dagger sticking out of his back!
The investigation into this murder mystery starts with the introduction to our detective, the jovial and friendly figure of Police Lieutenant Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell). With some fine deducting as he interviews a host of so be witnesses, Lt. Stevenson works his way skillfully through to the suspect. The beautiful, sweet lady of Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland) who works on a confectionery stand. Baffled by all the questions from Lt. Stevenson, she answers honestly and in doing so gives herself a perfect alibi.
With no further leads Lt. Stevenson calls at Terry’s apartment to ask a few more questions to discover to his complete shock that Terry has in fact a twin, an identical twin in, Ruth Collins. Totally flabbergasted on this discovery and even more perplexed when he finds out they both have the same alibi and won’t confirm which one is which. Meaning that he can’t arrested either of them but being the professional he is, he is unable to accept this could be a perfect crime.
Who better to help him out than a man who specialises in the minds and characteristics of the innermost workings of the psychology of identical twins and just happens to know Terry (or was it Ruth?) but has had no idea she was a twin. With his skill set Dr. Scott Elliott (Lew Ayres) is enlisted by Lt. Stevenson to see what he can find from his work with Rorschach’s inkblot test cards and word association. To someway break through the twins to discover if one of them is indeed psychotic and manipulative.
It’s quite an easy puzzle to break yourself but that doesn’t matter one bit, as this film noir mystery is in fact so much fun. Where it hits dark notes throughout the runtime, a general feeling of lightheartedness is displayed especially through the interactions of Lt. Stevenson and the inquisitive and kind Dr. Scott Elliott. Best of all though has to go to the divine Olivia de Havilland who is outstanding in her portray of the two very different personalities of the Collins sisters.
I stumbled upon it whilst flicking through Youtube. If you fancy giving it a go, I can wholeheartedly recommend it or if you have seen it, what did you think?
Thanks for popping in on wolfies film happenings. Wishing you happy movie watching.
PS At the time of writing The Dark Mirror is on youtube to stream.