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A Double Life
Format: DVD|Change
Price:$19.95+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on April 21, 2011
I'm not sure this movie could be made today. It has no blood, no guts, no explosions, no fireballs, no steroid driven males and no women with huge chests. Does it need them? Not by a long shot. It is an absolutely marvelous movie with incredible acting, beautiful black and white film work and a really good story. The screenwriting is absolutely first class as is the movie itself. Ronald Coleman's portrayal of a demented actor truly is an Academy award winning performance. The other actors do a wonderful job as well. Once I started watching this movie. I could not interrupt myself to do anything else. It was riveting! I have loaned it to three or four friends, one of whom almost refuses to see any black and white films. All told, it was rated terrific, including by the black-and-white filmophobe. He said is one of best movies he has ever seen. I heartily recommend this film to anyone who enjoys top-of-the-line films from any era. This one is hard to beat. Does the VHS version bother me?Heck no! One viewing tip--when I watch this I always turn down the brightness of the TV screen a little bit to make the scenes even darker. It seems to make everything even more ominous and hard-hitting.
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HALL OF FAMEon July 14, 2009
Director George Cukor strips away the glitter and tinsel of Broadway in the 1947 psychological thriller A DOUBLE LIFE, starring Ronald Colman in the role which finally netted him an Academy Award.

Acclaimed stage actor Anthony John (Ronald Colman) takes up the role he has been dreaming of for years - Shakespeare's diabolical Othello. Co-starring with his ex-wife Brita (Signe Hasso) as Desdemona, Tony's role starts to take a serious toll on his mental state as the show runs to audience and critical acclaim for many, many months. Finally, his nerves as brittle as the Bard's dialogue, Tony snaps and kills pretty waitress Pat (Shelley Winters) using his Othello "kiss of death" strangle-hold.

Featuring a sharp script from Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, A DOUBLE LIFE was the film that first established Shelley Winters as a promising new star; and while she only features in two relatively brief sequences, her character is the key to Ronald Colman's most amazing acting scene in the entire film. Gorgeous Swedish actress Signe Hasso lights up the screen as Brita and has a lovely chemistry with Colman. Edmond O'Brien co-stars as the publicity agent who suspects Tony of murder; also keep your eyes peeled for a young Betsy Blair.

The DVD from Artisan/Republic Pictures features a print that has been independently restored by the UCLA Archive. While quite serviceable, it does exhibit some telecine wobble and other age-related print damage problems. I'd love to see Universal release this title with some bonus features and a comprehensive restoration job, but somehow I doubt it will ever happen. A real pity, because this is one of the all-time best from George Cukor.
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on October 10, 2017
This DVD was a welcome recent edition to my film library. The DVD has no extra features, which is lamentable. In his Oscar-winning best actor role, Ronald Colman was ably supported by a strong cast and George Cukor's direction. .
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on August 26, 2006
Here's a memorable Oscar-winning performance from one of Hollywood's finest actor's, Ronald Colman, in a story of jealousy, madness and revenge. In a role that was originally intended for Cary Grant, Colman is excellent as Anthony John, a celebrated off-Broadway actor who blurs the line between his character, Othello, and reality when he starts acting on the murderous impulses of his character. As a psychological melodrama, "A Double Life" undoubtedly stands out as a success.

George Kukor's direction is exemplary as he successfully juxtaposes Tony John's real jealousy over his ex-wife's relationship with Edmond O'Brien, while mirroring the wracked emotions and madness of Shakespeare's protagonist.

Colman convincingly protrays Tony John's progressive dementia from the get-go the minute he is offered the part soon after the opening credits roll. For an actor used to playing debonair and swashbuckling heroes in the 30's this role must have been a challenge for Colman, but a welcome one. He brings a nervous intensity to the character of Tony John that is never melodramatic but is realistically portrayed.

Co-written by the talented actress, Ruth Gordon (Harold & Maude), "A Double Life" showcases an impressive cast including Shelley Winters (in her first professional role), Ray Collins, and Signe Hasso.

The score by Miklos Rozsa, as well as the screenplay by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, are both as memorable as the performances in this remarkable film. This DVD's transfer is markedly clean and lovingly restored from the original film negative and presented in the original 1.33:1 format in which the the film was initially shot.
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on April 21, 2004
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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VINE VOICEon April 26, 2001
As a director who understood actors and the problems stars often have managing their own screen personae, George Cukor was the perfect choice to direct this dark thriller about a Shakespearean actor playing Othello both on and off-stage. The film's unique achievement, in turn, is to make us feel apprehension and suspense whether the actor is on or off stage. As the paranoid Moor, Ronald Coleman plays the role with his familiar stylized cadence, a highly artificial elocution in contrast with his inner turmoil and potential violence. The score by Miklos Roza, with it employment of the "theremin," adds another artificial dimension--the operatic and melodramatic. Consequently, the illusion vs. reality theme that we feel at the level of the film's story is doubled by the graphic black and white images vs. formal orchestra score at the structural level. But rather than confuse, the pairings create engaging tensions that sustain the film's impact on the spectator's memory long after the viewing of the film. Like Shakespeare's iambic pentameter, 5-act plays, the formal elements of this film work not to suppress dramatic emotion but to suggest its explosive power through the very elements that contain it.
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on January 27, 2005
To act is to take on the personality of your subject. To be a brilliant actor, one must identify with the soul of the subject by finding a commonality within oneself and exploit it to the fullest. Anthony John is a brilliant actor who's been given an opportunity to play Othello, a dark brooding role, but is troubled by the idea. His ex-wife Rita explains: "We were engaged doing Oscar Wilde, broke it off doing O'Neill, married doing Kaufman and Hart, and divorced doing Chekov." For Anthony acting is all consuming. Othello will bring out the best in Anthony the actor, but in order to achieve this level of perfection he must release a demon within himself - jealous rage. Once released, will he be able to put it back? Ronald Colman gives a riviting performance as Anthony John. Ruth Gordon wrote the screenplay.
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on February 27, 2018
Another great film....a man who becomes too involved in a play. He becomes the character Othello and a danger to the women around him.
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on November 27, 2017
Ronald Coleman is excellent in a shadowy role of an aging Shakespearean actor in this film noir murder mystery.
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on September 9, 2016
A story about a famous stage actor whose obsession with Shakespeare's Othello leads him to killing his partner probably would have a small chance today. But back in 1947 the movie garnered three Oscars, one for Ronald Colman in the leading role, another for Miklos Rozsa's music, a fascinating blend of Venetian Renaissance music for the stage scenes and his grim Film Noir style for the actual drama.
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