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A Double Life

39 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Sep 18, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

George Cukor's perfectly mannered direction confidently guides this brooding and cynical film noir that is considered by many the highlight of actor Ronald Colman's great career. A Double Life explores the dangers of blurring the line between reality and illusion in this examination of the schizoid personality of a talented stage actor who begins to confuse his roles with his life. Colman gives a magnificent and mesmerizing performance as veteran thespian Anthony John, who begins to mentally derail during a run of Othello. John's courtly manners and reputation have a winning charm that endear him to both audiences and women, including his ex-wife, Brita (Signe Hasso), who acts opposite him in the play, and Pat (Shelley Winters), a sexy waitress he befriends. Colman's performance earned him a Best Actor Academy Awardr and Golden Glober. Mikl¢s R¢zsa also won an Oscarr for his vivacious score and the film's director and screenwriters, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin all received Oscarr nominations. Edmond O'Brien co-stars as the company's producer who's secretly in love with Brita.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ronald Colman, Signe Hasso, Edmond O'Brien, Shelley Winters, Ray Collins
  • Directors: George Cukor
  • Writers: Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Original recording remastered
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Olive Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item can be shipped to over 75 destinations outside of the U.S. Learn More
  • ASIN: B008D19ZPY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,626 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 3, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
For this 1948 film Ronald Colman, one of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen, finally got the recognition he long deserved in the form of his first Oscar. In this absorbing, psychological thriller, Colman gave the performance that won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Playing the role of revered stage actor, Anthony John, Colman gives an intense and riveting performance. When the obsessive Anthony John is called to play the role of Othello, he agrees to do so, and his ex wife and love of his life, Brita Kaurin (Signe Hasse) agrees to play the role of Desdemona. All goes well, and the play is a smashing, long running Broadway success.
Playing the role of Othello for such a protracted period of time, however, begins to wreak havoc with John's sanity, as reality and fantasy collide. Brita is seeing someone else in real life, and John, still in love with her, begins to confuse reality with his role. This spills over into his acting, and his acting spills over into his real life. This double life leads to catastrophic consequences from which there is no turning back. Those cognoscenti viewers familiar with the role of Othello can well imagine where this may lead, given the personal dynamics outlined.
All in all, terrific performances are given by the entire cast. Ronald Colman is magnificent in the part of the conflicted Anthony John, and Signe Hasso does herself proud in the role of John's ex-wife. Look for a young and buxom Shelley Winters in a small, but pivotal, role. The incisive screenplay, written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, makes for a drama that is redolent of the New York theatre. Well directed by George Cukor, this is a film that fans of the velvet voiced Ronald Colman will love, as will all those who enjoy a well acted drama.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By D. Knouse on April 21, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw Ronald Colman in the 1937 film "Lost Horizon" and I was immediately impressed with his acting ability, primarily his use of subtlety and gesture. His type of acting is extremely rare by todays standards, where the stories are more likely to contain rapid, complex camera shots and special effects to propel the plot. But back in the Silver Screen era it was all about a tight script and excellent acting. That is what we have here, with a particularly potent performance given by the star Ronald Colman. His performance garnered the 1947 Oscar for Best Actor, and many said it was a long time coming. The story is about a stage actor content to play comic leads when he is offered the lead role in Shakespear's "Othello." He is reluctant to play the part due to a subconcious realization that his roles eventually seep into his real life, becoming an actual part of his character. When considering the lead in "Othello" this cannot be a good thing. Tragedy is an eventuality. The highlights in the film, for me, were the scenes from the play on stage. Ronald Colman loses hiself in the character completely both on and off the stage and is ultimately very believable and creepy. There are the occasional conventional plot devices common to the era used to wrap things up neatly, but overall this is a forgotten gem of a film from acclaimed director George Cukor. Once the begining credits unfolded and that director's name was shown I knew this was going to be at the very least, acceptable; at best, exceptional. This film falls nicely between those two possibilities, with a terrific lead performance from Ronald Colman. Thank you.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on January 2, 2005
Format: DVD
When we first see actor Anthony John (Ronald Coleman), he is standing in the lobby of a Broadway theater, buried in a trenchcoat with his face shadowed and hidden by a fedora, studying a painting of himself. John turns around and we're given the opportunity to compare the live face to the portrait hanging over his head. The artist got it all right save for the haunted, and immeasurably sad, eyes. John spends a lot of time studying himself in paintings, busts and mirrors - not because he's narcissistic, but rather because he has lost, or perhaps never knew in the first place, who he really is..
Anthony John is a great actor, a toast of Broadway, and a great guy. At least he is now, starring in a wildly popular light comedy. When playing in darker and moodier plays something comes over him. A young woman (who must have met him during an Ibsen play) bumps into him on the street and calls him a `stinker.'
A DOUBLE LIFE is a gutsy and brilliant movie about a man in search of himself and an actor who never learned to "leave it at midnight." To you a 40's expression, and this is very much a 40's movie, John is light and [...]when his character is so. Dark and brooding when cast as a tragic character. Theater friends pressure John to play Shakespeare's Othello. He demurs: "Some plays give me the willys, on stage and off." But the friends are persistent and John is intrigued, and soon enough he is up to his soul in that tragic tale of bloody jealousy.
Laurence Olivier was originally offered the part of the obsessed actor, but he was unavailable. The part, written by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon in their Oscar-nominated screenplay, calls for a good chunk of the final act of Othello to be played out on-screen.
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