The Dark Mirror (1946) - Produced on Demand on DVD-R Media


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The Dark Mirror is a 1946 American film noir psychological thriller film directed by Robert Siodmak, starring Olivia de Havilland as twins and Lew Ayres as their psychiatrist. The film marks Ayres' return to motion pictures following his conscientious objection to service in World War II. De Havilland had begun to experiment with method acting at the time and insisted that everyone in the cast meet with a psychiatrist.

Dr. Frank Peralta is stabbed to death in his apartment one night. The detective on the case, Lt. Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell), quickly finds multiple witnesses putting Peralta's lover, Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland), at the scene. However, when Stevenson finds Terry and questions her, she has an iron-clad alibi with multiple witnesses. It is revealed that Terry has an identical twin sister, Ruth , and the pair share the same job and routinely switch places for their own benefit. Stevenson and the district attorney are unable to prosecute, since the twins refuse to confirm which one of them has the alibi.

Unable to accept the "perfect crime", Lt. Stevenson asks Dr. Scott Elliot (Lew Ayres) for help. Scott is an expert on twin study, and has been routinely encountering the Collins twins at their shared place of work, but does not know which one is which. As a front, Scott asks Terry and Ruth if he can study both of them individually as part of his research. The twins accept, though Ruth is worried that Scott might find out that Terry was at Peralta's apartment the night of the murder. However, Terry is attracted to Scott and insists that they can keep the secret for the sake of seeing him. She also comforts Ruth, reminding her that she was only at Peralta's apartment but didn't kill him.

From Scott's psychological tests and by spending time with them, he discovers that Ruth is kind and loving, while Terry is highly intelligent, insane, and has been manipulating Ruth almost their entire lives. Terry is jealous that people keep preferring Ruth over her, and is again enraged when Scott falls in love with Ruth instead of her. Terry starts methodically gaslighting Ruth, making her believe that she's hallucinating and going insane, in the hopes of pushing her to suicide.

Scott reports his findings to Stevenson, who advises him to warn Ruth immediately. That night, Scott arranges to meet with Ruth at his apartment, but Terry intercepts the message. Terry leaves Ruth alone at their apartment, and sets a music box in a hidden place to further drive Ruth to madness. Terry goes to meet Scott, but he's aware of who she really is. Scott explains everything he's learned about the twins' relationship and Terry's intense rivalry with her innocent sister. Scott also believes that Peralta, who didn't know they were twins, wooed Terry but was really in love with Ruth, and Terry killed him for it. Just as Terry is considering stabbing Scott, he receives a phone call from Stevenson, who is at the twins' apartment, having visited her on a hunch and found Ruth dead.

Scott and Terry go to the sisters' apartment, where Terry "confesses" to Stevenson that her "sister" killed Peralta and committed suicide out of guilt. Terry confirms all of Scott's psychological test results, but she herself claims to be Ruth, and says that she's relieved that "Terry" is dead. Is Terry really Ruth or is Ruth really Terry?

Cast

Olivia de Havilland as twins Terry and Ruth Collins
Lew Ayres as Dr. Scott Elliott
Thomas Mitchell as Lt. Stevenson
Richard Long as Rusty
Charles Evans as Dist. Atty. Girard
Garry Owen as Franklin
Lela Bliss as Mrs. Didriksen
Lester Allen as George Benson
Jean Andren as Dist. Atty.'s Secretary
Rodney Bell as Fingerprint Man
Lane Chandler as Intern

Click Here for a video review of this film by the Film Noir Report.


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