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Strange Illusion (1945)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 31 March 1945 (USA)
Paul, a young man whose father was once lieutenant Governor of California before his untimely death, has a strange, recurring dream in which his mother falls in love with a dangerous man (... See full summary »


Edgar G. Ulmer


Adele Comandini (screen play), Fritz Rotter (original story)




Complete credited cast:
Jimmy Lydon ... Paul Cartwright (as James Lydon)
Warren William ... Brett Curtis
Sally Eilers ... Virginia Cartwright
Regis Toomey ... Dr. Vincent
Charles Arnt ... Professor Muhlbach
George Reed ... Benjamin (as George H. Reed)
Jayne Hazard ... Dorothy Cartwright
Jimmy Clark Jimmy Clark ... George Hanover
Mary McLeod Mary McLeod ... Lydia
Pierre Watkin ... Wallace Armstrong
Sonia Sorel Sonia Sorel ... Charlotte Farber
Victor Potel ... Mac - Game Warden (as Vic Potel)
George Sherwood George Sherwood ... Langdon
Gene Roth ... Sparky (as Gene Stutenroth)
John Hamilton ... Bill Allen


Paul, a young man whose father was once lieutenant Governor of California before his untimely death, has a strange, recurring dream in which his mother falls in love with a dangerous man (Brett Curtis), a dream which also contains the image of his father's death in an automobile accident under mysterious circumstances. Through the help of his friend, a psychiatrist, Paul realizes that his dream is coming true, and that his mother is falling under Curtis's influence. Curtis, in fact, is a homicidal maniac who lives as an out-patient at the sanitarium of the unscrupulous Dr. Muhlbach. When Curtis makes an attempt to marry Paul's mother, Paul intervenes, and after a series of events discovers the truth behind his dreams. Written by Wheeler Winston Dixon

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Did You Know?


Draws on the plot of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet". See more »


When Brett is watching Lydia in the swimming pool, his body position changes in three successive shots from differing angles. See more »


[first lines]
Paul Cartwright: I'm Paul Cartwright, my father was Judge Albert Cartwright, once lieutenant governor of the state, he was killed two years ago in a mysterious accident. We were not only father and son, but friends. The shock of his violent death still haunts my mind, my nights are troubled by strange dreams.
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Referenced in Edgar G. Ulmer: The Man Off-Screen (2004) See more »

User Reviews

All my patients are guests
5 May 2020 | by ulicknormanowenSee all my reviews

Many people compared it to "Hamlet " ,but actually the plot is not very shakespearian ; and anyway,from "the lion king" to "the stepfather" , lots of movies repeat the story of the widow-with-son-who-wants-to-marry-again. (and the newcomer is perhaps a murderer).

It belongs to the" psychoanalysis" craze of the forties , along with "spellbound" , "secret beyond the door" ,"the dark mirror" ......even more Freudian ,because the son hates his mom's fiancé ,in spite of his boy-next-door look .His youthful face displays a grown up kid ;the results are not perhaps as absorbing as the films I mention above ,but it's not devoid of qualities.

The beginning is downright unsettling : the hero introduces himself and then we see him lost in horrible nightmares ;premonitory dreams in fact ; and to help him getting through the night (the fog ) ,there's a good doctor he almost considers his substitute father .When one meets the fiancé,not only he's an intruder but it also reminds the hero of elements of his dreams.Enter a shrink who urges the young man to be treated in his sanatorium as a "guest "; a strange hospital ,in which all patients are guests, but they are locked at night, a two-way mirror and binoculars who help the psychiatrist to spy on his patients.

On the other hand, the trick of the truck is too implausible and the ending is too hurried for comfort.

It's an honest film noir though.

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Release Date:

31 March 1945 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

First Illusion See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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