Watch The Dark Mirror
- 1 hr 25 min
In the 1946 psychological thriller, The Dark Mirror, Olivia de Havilland plays identical twin sisters, one of whom is accused of murder. The film opens with psychoanalyst Dr. Frank Peralta (Lew Ayres) examining both sisters, Terry and Ruth Collins, who have been brought in for questioning as the prime suspects in the murder of a wealthy businessman. Despite their identical appearances, their personalities are vastly different; Terry is lively and flirtatious, while Ruth is introverted and shy.
As the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that Terry is the prime suspect in the murder, but she denies any involvement. The evidence against her is circumstantial, however, and without a confession, the police are unable to charge her with the crime. Dr. Peralta becomes intrigued by the case and decides to dig deeper into the sisters' backgrounds and relationships.
Throughout the film, de Havilland gives a stunning performance as both Terry and Ruth, using subtle differences in posture, facial expression, and vocal inflection to distinguish between the two characters. The use of split-screen technology was groundbreaking at the time, allowing de Havilland to appear on screen as both sisters at the same time, further emphasizing the duality of their personalities.
As Dr. Peralta delves further into the case, he begins to suspect that Terry may have dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as multiple personalities. He observes that Terry and Ruth have different handwriting and can recall different events from their childhoods. He also witnesses Terry adopting a third personality, that of a Frenchwoman named Adrienne. Dr. Peralta tries to help Terry by unlocking the memories that have been repressed and causing her to switch between her different personalities.
One of the most interesting themes explored in The Dark Mirror is the idea of identity and the ways in which people present themselves to the world. The film questions whether the sisters are truly different people or simply altering their behavior based on the situation they are in. As the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that both sisters have secrets they are hiding, and the truth is not easily discernible.
The film also touches on the idea of nature versus nurture, with both sisters having experienced traumatic events in their childhoods that may have contributed to their behavior. Terry and Ruth's relationship with their father is particularly fraught, and it becomes clear that he was emotionally abusive to both of them.
The Dark Mirror is a masterfully crafted film noir that keeps the audience guessing until the very end. The twists and turns of the plot are skillfully executed, and the performances by de Havilland, Ayres, and Thomas Mitchell as the lead detective are outstanding. The film also features a haunting score by Dimitri Tiomkin, adding to the suspense and atmosphere of the film.
Overall, The Dark Mirror is a classic film noir that explores themes of identity, mental illness, and trauma in a gripping and suspenseful manner. The use of split-screen technology and de Havilland's dual performance make it an important film in the history of cinema.
The Dark Mirror is a 1946 thriller with a runtime of 1 hour and 25 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1.