A Double Life

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A Double Life is a 1947 film noir which tells the story of an actor whose mind becomes affected by the character he portrays. The movie starred Ronald Colman and Signe Hasso. It was directed by George Cukor and written for the screen by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin.[1]



Celebrated stage actor Anthony John (Ronald Colman) has driven away his actress wife Brita (Signe Hasso) with his erratic temper. However, they star together in the play Othello. Gradually, his portrayal of a jealous murderous man undermines his sanity. The actor eventually kills his mistress, Pat Kroll (Shelley Winters), but does not remember doing it.


Noir analysis

Julie Kirgo wrote that A Double Life is truly a picture of opposing forces, mirror images and deadly doubles: "Anthony John is at war with Othello, the elegant world of the theater is opposed to the squalid existence of Shelley Winters' Pat Kroll, and illusion versus reality are all conveyed in opposing lights and darks of Krasner's luminous photography."[2]


Critical reception

When the film was released film critic Bosley Crowther lauded the film, writing, "We have it on the very good authority of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, who should know—they being not only actors and playwrights but wife and spouse—that what seems a fairly safe profession, acting, is as dangerous as they come and love between people of the theatre is an adventure fraught with infinite perils. Especially is it risky when an actor takes his work seriously and goes in for playing "Othello." Then handkerchiefs and daggers rule his mind. At least, that is what is demonstrated in a rich, exciting, melodramatic way in the Kanin's own plushy production...George Cukor, in his direction, amply proves that he knows the theatre, its sights and sounds and brittle people."[3]

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