Bette Davis plays twin sisters. Edith is the poor sister, barely keeping her life together as herlittle bar goes under. Meanwhile, Margaret lives high on the hog, having become wealthy as thewife of the man she stole from Evie. Shortly after said husband’s funeral, Edith realizes that everyclaim Margaret had on him was a lie. Finally overcome by both misery and the need for revenge,she murders Margaret and takes her place. But Karl Malden, the cop who loves Edith, won’t let…er apparent suicide go. And Margaret’s lover Peter Lawford makes himself awkward too.
Less grotesque than What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Dead Ringer is a bitcloser in feel to an earlier noir. The script has fun piling on the ironies, and Davisincarnates the two very different sisters most convincingly. Interesting games are played withaudience sympathy, since we have the complex scenario of the good sister murdering the badone. A thoroughly entertaining thriller.
The sound is the original mono, which is certainly the way to go with a film of this kind,particularly given that flick is largely dialogue-driven, and badly remixed surround voices wouldbe a real distraction. The sound is clean and free of buzz. The music has a fine, rich sound.
The picture is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1, from the looks of it). The black-and-white tones are very strong, and the image is quite grainy, and there are other instances ofminor print damage as well. The age of the film should be factored in, of course, and the interiorshots are stronger than the exterior ones.
Charles Busch talks with Davis expert Boze Handleigh on the commentary. Busch isenthusiastic, but Handleigh is the stronger guide. “Double Take: A Conversation with BozeHandleigh” is a 15-minute featurette that gives more background on the film and allowsHandleigh to consider the film as a whole. “Behind the Scenes at the Doheney Mansion” is avintage making-of featurette. Finally, there’s the theatrical trailer. The menu’s main screen isscored.
After over thirty years as a leading lady, Bette Davis was still dominating the screen inefforts like this one. Good, juicy fun.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Double Take: A Conversation with Boze Hadleigh”
- “Behind the Scenes at the Doheney Mansion” Vintage Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer