December 2, 2010

don'tcha know me?

finally watched Dead Ringer the other day. i'm a huge Bette Davis fan, and i liked the idea of her doing a horror/thriller-ish type of movie. well, actually, it turned out to be more like a thriller/mystery sort of thing.

Bette Davis plays twin sisters Edith and Margaret. Margaret married Edith's one true love under false pretenses twenty years ago, which obviously kinda pissed Edy off, so the two never speak again until Edith's former lover and Margaret's husband passes away and they meet up at his funeral. Edith discovers her sister is and has been living the high life all these years, living in a big Hollywood mansion, hob-knobbing and wearing glamorous clothes while she's barely been able to afford to eat, and her little dive bar that she runs is about to be shut down because she's three months behind on rent. what unfolds is an expertly laid-out and suspenseful plot for Edith to kill her rich twin and assume her identity.

as far as suspense goes, this one was a real nail-biter for me. maybe it's just because i like Bette so much, but once she kills her sister, it's a non-stop roller coaster of "will she get caught??" it's hard to believe she was considered washed-up at the time she made this movie. she turns in such a great performance as both sisters, and manages to play them both with very distinct personalities, and while they're both deeply flawed characters, they're also sympathetic. it couldn't have been easy to portray twins. it's like an adult, homicidal Patty Duke show!

at first when Edith murders Margaret and it becomes obvious that she's switching places with her, i was like "pffffffft, this'll never work! so stupid." but even if it is a pretty unbelievable scenario, even in an era before forensics and ballistics and all that stuff, this movie does a pretty great job of covering itself. because Margaret's husband died only the day before, and then her sister supposedly commits suicide the next day, any strange behavior her servants and friends will of course notice can be blamed on this. there's this one great scene in which it's Edth's first full day in her sister's gigantic mansion, and her butler tells her the police are waiting to speak to her in the living room (about her sister's suicide), and once she gets to the bottom of the stairs, she freaks out because she doesn't know where the room is obviously. so she tells the butler to bring them to her, watches which way he starts walking, then says she changed her mind and goes into the correct room. XD i just love characters like this, that are kinda bad and you really shouldn't be rooting for, but they're so clever and dedicated and resourceful that you have to admire them.

another thing i like about the movie is the sense of loneliness and isolation that developes, perhaps a side effect of her assuming a new life that Edith didn't anticipate. not being able to truly be herself to a single person in the world quickly becomes stifling, and maddening. she also discovers, as the layers of her sister's sordid affairs peel back, that she also inherits a whole host of unforseen problems from her sister. it's really, really interesting stuff. i thought the ending kinda sucked; i mean, i guess i knew it could only end one way, but i felt like it would've been better if it had ended about ten minutes earlier and left just a couple things hanging, though definitely pointing in a certain direction. or maybe had gone somewhere more over-the-top and dramatic, since the rest of the movie was kind of like that, but it was just kind of depressingly low-key. but i guess that was kind of the style of the time or whatever. overall it was a blast, one of Bette's best movies i think, just kind of an eh ending that doesn't really do the rest of the movie justice. this really makes me want to see more Bette movies, especially Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.

also started watching this new Avengers cartoon the other night before bed; they had this marathon or something of it on. it was pretty good. i think Wasp Girl or whoever is pretty annoying though, and i wish they'd gotten a better female character to be on the team, but then i realized that Marvel kinda doesn't have any good female heores that aren't a part of some other team, haha. but yeah, the animation's pretty good, the stories are okay. i'm not sure if Captain America is really as crazy as they depict him. and i'm disappointed because i fell asleep right as they were introducing Black Panther. :/


ross said...

i think the only Bette Davis movie i've seen is Watcher in the Woods, and i feel like i've been Baby Jane but i can't remember. i really want to see Wicked Stepmother, one of the few Larry Cohen (It's Alive! heheh) movies i've never been able to get a hold of.