The Two Mrs. Carrolls and The Dark Mirror

Seeing double again with this double shot of over-the-top melodrama. First up THE TWO MRS CARROLS.

Bogart plays a possessive, psycho artist who poisons his first wife in order to marry Barbara Stanwyck. When homewrecking vixen Alexis Smith enters the picture, Stanwyck suddenly falls victim to a mysterious, debilitating case of “nerves,” causing headaches and dizziness. Clearly, history is about to repeat itself, only a blackmailing chemist throws a monkey wrench into Bogie’s plans.

This is one I’ve seen before and for some reason, I liked it less the second time. Barbara Stanwyck is one of my personal favorite actresses and the one I’d want to play me in the time-travel movie of my life. But she’s playing my least favorite kind of role in this one, the sweet, treacly, good-girl victim. On the other hand, there’s some great banter in this film, particularly Bogart’s first meeting with sexy Smith, and I also liked the character of Smith’s bitchy mom. Bogart’s scenery-chewing performance comes off as camp and silly, but it’s actually pretty creepy in a meta kind of way when you consider that when this film was being shot, he was going through his divorce with the explosively violent Mayo “Sluggy” Methot, order to marry 20 year old Lauren Bacall.

Next in line was DARK MIRROR.

Love that tag line! Olivia DeHavilland plays a double role as good and evil twins in this twisty psychological thriller. A doctor is murdered and one of the twins is suspected, but no one can tell them apart so there’s no way to prove which one did it. A doctor who specializes in twins agrees to study the two women and see if he can use science and psychology to determine which one is the killer. Of course the good twin falls for the doc and you don’t have to have a PhD to see where this is headed.

This film was also intensely melodramatic and over-the-top, but I liked it much better than the first. Weird, misogynistic and dated “science” notwithstanding, it was a blast from start to finish. I loved the fact that the twins wore goofy necklaces that spelled out their names and I thought Thomas Mitchell was wonderful as the put-upon police detective. I even loved the ending, though I’m not going to give it away in this post. But this one is available on DVD, so feel free to play along at home.

Tonight, it’s a no-holds-barred cage match between Charles McGraw and Joan Crawford with THE THREAT and THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS.

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