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The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)

Passed | | Drama, Mystery | 4 May 1933 (USA)
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.


James Whale


Ladislas Fodor (play) (as Ladislaus Fodor), William Anthony McGuire (screen play)




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


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


The daring drama of two men, two women and the unwritten law. (Print Ad-New Oxford Item, ((New Oxford, Penna.)) 13 July 1933) See more »


Drama | Mystery


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


According to TMC's Eddie Muller, the reason the sets might look familiar is that they are the same sets James Whale used in Frankenstein. See more »


Paul Held: Hello, Bill
Bill - a murderer: Hello, Mr. Held
Paul Held: Well, you'll be out of here soon.
Bill - a murderer: I have been out. I broke out. KIlled the wife and her boyfriend, now I'm in for good.
Paul Held: That's too bad.
Bill - a murderer: Too bad, nothing. I'm happy. Wondering where that woman was all the time used to drive me crazy.
Paul Held: Yeah, well you know where she is now.
Bill - a murderer: I know where I hope she is!
[he laughs]
See more »


Referenced in Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed! (2000) See more »

User Reviews

A rare James Whale shocker
13 July 2009 | by HandlinghandelSee all my reviews

This is not a horror movie. James Whale is best known for those. (His 1936 "Showboat," on the other hand is my absolute favorite movie musical, bar none.) This one is a brief but insightful character study.

Frank Morgan plays a famous lawyer engrossed in a murder case. He finds himself identifying with the jealous husband of a beautiful woman.

He identifies a little too strongly. He begins to see in his own wife the behavior of his client's wife.

Morgan's wife is played by one of the most charming of early movie actresses: Nancy Carroll. I've seen her primarily in light comedy, where she is absolutely charming. She has a quirkiness that resembles that of Janet Gaynor. And she physically resembles the ultra-sexy Clara Bow.

Her career was short, apparently by her own choice. This is one of her best roles. And, though it's atypical and little known, it's a very fine example of James Whale's masterful touch.

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Release Date:

4 May 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Kiss Before the Mirror See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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