Derek Winnert

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A Double Life **** (1947, Ronald Colman, Shelley Winters, Signe Hasso, Edmond O’Brien, Millard Mitchell, Ray Collins) – Classic Movie Review 5359

Director George Cukor’s 1947 double Oscar-winning film noir crime thriller stars Ronald Colman, who is on sensitive, Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning Best Actor form as a tortured actor called Anthony John, who is increasingly tormented and obsessed with his latest role as Shakespeare’s Othello and his murderous jealousy.

It is a classic case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-style tortured double personality. The dark joke here is that when Anthony John is playing comedy, he is sweet but when he is playing drama, he’s a killer.

It also stars Signe Hasso as his ex-wife Brita, Shelley Winters, Edmond O’Brien, Millard Mitchell and Ray Collins.

The ancient premise is freshened up with a lively, witty original screenplay by sophisticated comedy specialists Garson Kanin and his actress wife Ruth Gordon, who concentrate on developing the spicy background detail of Broadway theatrical life. They were Oscar nominated for Best Original Screenplay and so was Cukor as Best Director.

Miklos Rozsa won an Oscar too for his music, Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, one of his three Oscars that also include his work on the scores for Spellbound and Ben-Hur (1959).

Perhaps it could have been slightly brighter and smarter, but it is certainly more than enjoyable enough, and Colman’s brio performance turns it into a success, with Hasso and the young Winters strong assets too.

Also in the cast are Philip Loeb, Joe Sawyer, Whit Bissell, Elizabeth Dunne, Harlan Briggs, Charles LaTorre, John Drew Colt, Peter Thompson, Alan Edmiston, Art Smith, Wilton Graff, Betsy Blair, Curt Conway, Paddy Chayefsky and John Derek.

It is Colman’s only Oscar, but he was nominated for Random Harvest (1942) and twice in the same year, for Bulldog Drummond (1929) and Condemned! (1929).

© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 5359

Check out more reviews on http://derekwinnert.com

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