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The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)

 |  Mystery  |  4 May 1933 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 191 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

When a famous doctor kills his adulterous wife, he is defended by his best friend, an attorney--who suspects that his own wife is having an affair.

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(play) (as Ladislaus Fodor) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Paul Held
...
Walter Bernsdorf
...
Lucy Bernsdorf
Jean Dixon ...
Hilda Frey
Donald Cook ...
Maria's Lover
...
Schultz (as Charles Grapewin)
...
Lucy's Lover
Wallis Clark ...
Public Prosecutor
May Boley ...
Busybody in Courtroom
Christian Rub ...
Man on the Wrong Floor
Reginald Mason ...
Judge
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Storyline

When a lawyer defending his best friend for murdering his unfaithful wife discovers how the accused discovered his wife was in love with another man, the lawyer begins to see the same patterns in his own wife's behavior, and suspects she too is being unfaithful. Promising his friend that a defense of momentary insanity will acquit him, he also promises to kill his own wife if the defense actually works. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Mystery

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Details

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Release Date:

4 May 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Kuß vor dem Spiegel  »

Company Credits

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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Connections

Version of Wives Under Suspicion (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR (James Whale, 1933) ***
17 February 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Though Universal had acquired prestige with the Oscar-winning ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930), it was still not regarded as a major studio at the time; consequently, most of their productions were allotted a B-movie budget and barely lasted over an hour and a quarter (this one, in fact, clocks in at 68 minutes) – even those made by their top director of the era, Whale! In fact, this one is partly filmed on the memorable Expressionist sets from his first great success FRANKENSTEIN (1931) – notably the forest, laboratory and university auditorium, converted here to a private garden, prison cell and courtroom – which lends the whole added texture and renders it fascinating viewing for horror buffs!

Even so, this proves a melodrama with a uniquely tense and compelling premise: a lawyer defending his best friend, accused of killing his faithless wife, begins to suspect that his own spouse is cheating on him – so that his impassioned (and sensationalistic) speech, tinged with personal angst, results in the acquittal of the murderer! Marked by elaborate camera-work (courtesy of the renowned Karl Freund), the film also features constant mirror imagery (playing on the all-important theme of duplicity). The acting often resorts to histrionics (Paul Lukas, in his first of 3 roles for the director, as the defendant virtually spends the whole trial with face buried in his hands!) but is nonetheless impressive – especially Frank Morgan's protagonist lawyer, since he is mostly known for befuddled comedy roles!; also on hand are Gloria Stuart (appearing as the murder victim and, thus, killed off in the very first scene!: she also worked 3 times with Whale, including 2 of his horror classics), Walter Pidgeon (an early role as her lover) and Charley Grapewin (as Morgan's assistant, who is something of a frustrated philosopher!).

Interestingly, Whale felt he could improve upon the film and remade it just 5 years later as WIVES UNDER SUSPICION (in which Morgan's brother Ralph played the accused!); however, though I recall liking it quite a bit when I watched it 5 years ago {sic}, I feel this is the superior version (if still some way behind his seminal horror work)...since, by then, the director's career was already in decline and, so, the resources were even more meager!


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