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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
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Olivia de Havilland,
Edward Everett Horton
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film begins with a husband following his wife to a rendezvous with her lover. There, he savagely kills her with a revolver--shooting her repeatedly as she fell to the ground. The husband, Paul Lukas, immediately phones the police to turn himself in for murder. However, his lawyer (Frank Morgan) works hard for his acquittal or a lenient sentence, since the husband was driven to this by his wife's behavior. Morgan's insistence of Lukas' innocence is important, since Morgan himself realizes his wife is also committing adultery and proving Lukas' innocence is, in a way, vindication for Morgan if he, too, decides to kill his wife.
As for Morgan, his performance is quite atypical. Instead of the usual nice guy or comical figure, here he plays a highly emotional and almost unhinged man. He's a bit over the top in his acting, but his melodramatic behavior is fun to watch.
The film was directed by James Whale--the same man who directed Boris Karloff and Colin Clive in the first two of Universal's Frankenstein movies. Like these films, THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR is notable for having many quiet moments where there is no incidental music. This is important because it adds to the tension and drama--producing a stark but intense film. Additionally, the film manages to do a lot in only a little over an hour--a sign of excellent direction. The only negative is that the final scene with Morgan's wife is a bit too melodramatic--too shrill to be realistic.
Overall, rather entertaining and different.
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