Friday, September 08, 2006


[Spoiler included!!] Very odd early talkie with Loretta Young in a dual role, and not one but two (or even three) wildly implausible plot twists--major suspension of disbelief is needed to make it through this one. In the first few minutes of the film, we meet a non-traditional little family composed of two small-time crooks (the dapper George Barraud and the sickly Raymond Hatton) and Mary, the young woman (Loretta Young) whom they raised. Weird Plot Twist One: We find out that she's an honest-to-God mind reader and not just a trick entertainer; if she concentrates hard enough, she can actually read people's minds. You'd think that with a talent like that, she'd be in great demand, but she's out of work (due to a harassing boss) and agrees to pull a jewelry heist with her "fathers." Weird Plot Twist Two: while the three are having dinner at a Chinese restaurant frequented by underworld figures, a group of idle rich "slummers" comes waltzing in, and one of the group (Margaret, also played by Young) is a dead ringer for Mary. Our family targets them for the robbery, but things don't go smoothly and Margaret is shot, falling into a mini-coma. While the two guys run, Mary stays with Margaret and swaps clothes and identities with her. Thanks to Mary's ability to read the mind of the unconscious Margaret, the cops fall for her ruse, as do the maid, the butler, and even Margaret's boyfriend (Jack Mulhall). The next morning, when the real Margaret awakens, the jig seems to be up, but in Plot Twist Three (contrived and predictable, but not necessarily weird), the women discover that they are long-separated twin sisters. Turner Classic Movies got the running time wrong (as has been happening too often lately) so my DVR cut off the last 3 or 4 minutes, but a happy ending was clearly in store for all (except perhaps for Mary's fathers). Young is lovely and quite good in the two roles; the special effect used to have the two Youngs interact seems not to be split screen, but rear projection, and it is indeed effective, especially in the restaurant scene in which Mary is right behind Margaret, listening to her conversation. [TCM]

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