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USA 1947
Directed by
George Cukor
103 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Double Life, A

Ronald Colman won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a much-adored thespian who cracks-up from the strain of playing Othello night after night. Written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, better known for their subsequent comedic hits with Cukor, Adam’s Rib (1949) and Pat And Mike (1952), it does not have the realism, of, say, Billy Wilder’s contemporary account of alcoholism in The Lost Weekend (1945), veering as it does between the well-portrayed, urbane world of the theatre and the more rudimentarily-realized backstreets of B grade crime fiction. Colman’s performance too, has Jekyll and Hyde quality about it, his histrionic eye-rolling portrayal of mental deterioration stopping just short of  hair-pulling pantomimic antics.

Although there are some clunky moments, particularly a punch-up between Colman and Edmond O’Brien, with Miklos Rosza’s effective music and stylish photography by Milton Krasner A Double Life is nevertheless a watchable and quite interesting look at the psychological strain of the acting profession. The film is also of interest for an early performance as a waitress on the make by a svelte Shelley Winters whilst Signe Hasso, a Swedish-born actress who was for a while touted as “the next Garbo”, a studio ploy that never caught on, plays Colman’s ex-wife.




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