One year, one film: 1964
Dead Ringer, dir. Paul Henreid
Starring Bette Davis
Recommended | HIGHLY RECOMMENDED | Must-See
A little bit campy but also a little bit brilliant, Dead Ringer offers a fantastic showcase of the talent of Bette Davis in a later stage of her career. Directed by her Now, Voyager and Deception co-star Paul Henreid, Davis stars in a dual role as twin sisters who have been estranged for many years. Edith and Margaret have been living in the same city for ten years, but haven’t spoken. When they reconnect after the death of the man they both loved, Edith becomes vengeful.
Davis’ performance, or rather performances, in Dead Ringer are fantastic. Under Henreid’s direction she does an amazing job of giving the sisters very distinct personalities and mannerisms. To add to the atmosphere, the cinematography and score are also very nicely-executed.
I enjoy this thriller greatly, but what did the critics think back in 1964?
Eugene Archer’s New York Times review described the film as “uncommonly silly” but “great fun,” giving high praise to Davis’ ability to create two very distinct characters in Margaret and Edith. Archer wrote: “She puffs, pants, pouts and pops her eyes with all the professional relish she can muster. It is sheer cinematic personality on the rampage, in a performance that, while hardly discreet, is certainly arresting. Deadly as her films may be, Bette Davis, the star, is very much alive.”
Sadly, I was unable to dig up any other contemporary reviews aside from that NYT piece, but Archer and I agree that the film is at the very least worth tuning in for to experience another powerhouse performance from the great Bette Davis.