Review: ‘A Double Life’

Life is particularly distinguished for the manner in which the characters have been conceived and played. Each character rings true as the story goes into its play-within-a-play about actors and the theatre. There's murder, suspense, psychology, Shakespeare and romance all wrapped up into one polished package of class screen entertainment.

Life is particularly distinguished for the manner in which the characters have been conceived and played. Each character rings true as the story goes into its play-within-a-play about actors and the theatre. There’s murder, suspense, psychology, Shakespeare and romance all wrapped up into one polished package of class screen entertainment.

Plot poses an interesting premise – that an actor takes on some of the characteristics of the role he is playing if the run is long. In this instance Ronald Colman lives his roles without danger until he tackles Othello. Gradually, as the play goes into a second year, he is dominated more and more by the character he creates on the stage. It finally leads him to murder a chance acquaintance in the same manner in which Othello snuffs out the life of Desdemona each night on the stage.

Colman realizes on ever facet of the demanding part in a performance that is flawless. It’s a histrionic gem of unusual versatility. Signe Hasso, his stage co-star and former wife, is a solid click, revealing a talent that has rarely been called upon in her other film roles. Her Desdemona is brilliant and her interpretation of the understanding ex-wife perfect.

1947: Best Actor (Ronald Colman), Score for a Dramatic Picture.

Nominations: Best Director, Original Screenplay

A Double Life

Production

Universal/Kanin. Director George Cukor; Producer Michael Kanin; Screenplay Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin; Camera Milton Krasner; Editor Robert Parrish; Music Miklos Rozsa; Art Director Harry Horner

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1947. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Ronald Colman Signe Hasso Edmond O'Brien Shelley Winters Ray Collins Philip Loeb
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