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Ernest Harden Jr.,
On a vacation in France from his nondescript job and life, John Barratt encounters a titled but impoverished French nobleman who looks exactly like him. The nobleman gets John drunk, and switches places with him to take a breather from his failing business and too-complicated life. John tries to convince everyone he is not who they think he is, but he begins to get more and more involved with the count's family, including an unhappy wife, domineering mother, lonely but talented young daughter, bitter spinster sister and the expected mistress. As John gets to know them he feels he can help them with their problems, but is also becoming used to his borrowed life, which has given him a purpose for the first time. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was a very troubled production. Director Robert Hamer was struggling with the alcoholism which would eventually kill him only a few years later, and had so much difficulty with Bette Davis that he had several lapses during filming, with only the support and kindness of his friend Alec Guinness (who had insisted on him as director) getting him through the ordeal. Davis, whose career was in a major slump, was angry at being restricted to a cameo and was unpleasant to everyone on set - Guinness later commented that her legendary professionalism was "largely a myth". Daphne Du Maurier, the authoress of the original novel, had also created difficulties by interfering with the filming and offering complaints at perceived deviations from her original story. MGM had no faith in the film and extensively re-edited it after shooting was completed, also imposing a score which Hamer did not want composed by studio veteran Bronislau Kaper. See more »
The 1950 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet belonging to Jean is made in France and has Paris plates but the steering wheel is on the right, indicating an export model for England or other countries that drive on the right. See more »
You have the intention of staying long in France, Mr. Barratt?
I don't know. That is to say that I didn't know there was any restriction apart from the question of money.
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cast listing 'custom's official' - should be customs official See more »
Polite and well-heeled melodrama...and surprisingly quite enjoyable
Provincial University professor from England chances to meet his diabolical, selfish twin while on vacation in Paris. Daphne Du Maurier's novel gets a highly polished screen-treatment, with star Alec Guinness very fine in the dual role, the split-screen photography and editing pulled off with skill. After being tricked into assuming the French nobleman's eccentric life, the teacher finds himself settling well into this new role as a business tycoon and family man--until his glinty-eyed look-alike returns. Bette Davis has a small but important, amusing role as a dowager Countess, and there's also a wreck of a wife, a wise little girl, a loyal chauffeur, and an Italian mistress. Gore Vidal worked on the adaptation, and the literate script is absorbing yet constricting for the teacher-character (he can only attempt to explain so much without throwing the whole plot off-course). There's a lot of talk in the early stages that the Count is delusional and perhaps schizophrenic, all of which is quickly dropped once the teacher assumes his life. Still, it's a smartly-planned movie, one without hysterics or false dramatics. Guinness seems a bit uncomfortable at times, though this may have been intentional and is acceptable behavior here. A very entertaining film with some weak or disappointing passages, but just as many adept ones and a satisfying finish. *** from ****
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