“Sure, sure, kill me… Just be quick about it, or I’ll kill you first!”
An ambitious young lawyer (Bradford Dillman) in love with the wife (Juliette Greco) of his renowned mentor (Orson Welles) defends a lower-class woman (also Greco) accused of killing the father (also Welles) of her children in order to marry her younger lover (also Dillman).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Courtroom Drama
- Love Triangle
- Murder Mystery
- Richard Fleischer Films
This melodramatic courtroom thriller is primarily notable for its gimmicky use of lead actors in dual roles. Director Richard Fleischer tries hard to make an overt comparison between the two parallel love triangles, ostensibly to demonstrate that class is irrelevant (who knew?!) when it comes to deception and matters of the heart. But ultimately this cinematic device is more distracting than revealing; when listening to Dillman’s lawyer commenting glibly to his lover that her lower-class counterpoint “isn’t pretty”, or upper-class Greco reacting with horror upon hearing that her lower-class doppelganger has carved up Welles’ body, one simply wants to groan. Crack in the Mirror is partially redeemed by its performances — Juliette Greco in particular is a joy to watch, and Welles’ final courtroom speech is stunning — but the clunky script makes it more frustrating than thrilling.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Juliette Greco as Eponine
- Orson Welles as Lamerciere
No. This melodramatic murder mystery is a minor disappointment.
One thought on “Crack in the Mirror (1960)”
First viewing. A find! – and, due to its one-of-a-kind construction, a must; unique in cinema history.
It’s a complex extension of Whale’s ‘Kiss Before the Mirror’, with a soupcon of a nod to Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ – in terms of ‘What is truth?’
Welles is his usual dependable self – but who knew that Dillman and Greco, both peripheral in cinema, were capable of such stunning performances?
And where else in film have we heard that most basic of passionate pleas?: Dillman says to Greco: “I want your mouth.”
Director Fleischer is a puzzle in film history. He gave us such home-runs as ‘The Boston Strangler’, ‘Barabbas’, ‘The Narrow Margin’, etc.,; he also gave us the ill-advised ‘The Jazz Singer’, ‘Mandingo’ (though a guilty pleasure), ‘Doctor Dolittle’, ‘Soylent Green’, etc. An odd career – but hardly a director of dubious talent.
I was quite surprised by this one – and would be pleased to return to it, as I think there’s more here than I caught in a first viewing.