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Dead Ringer Reviews

Page 1 of 4
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

July 13, 2011
Another in a string of Bette Davis' comeback movies of the sixties, "Dead Ringer" feels and looks recycled, but has all the mystery and charm of a Davis' film. What feels recycled ultimately boils down to the fact that many of the pieces of the plot are the same as other, better films. Davis had played identical twins earlier in the 1946 film "A Stolen Life" and Olivia de Havilland had basically played the same kind of role in a very similar film entitled "The Dark Mirror" from that same year. Murderous twins have always been an interesting thriller concept and noir staple, because of the extremes that siblings can present when they are given the chance to kill. Davis was reemerging in the public sphere after her Oscar nominated turn in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?". This film and another film of that decade put Davis back into the limelight and with good reason. She was the queen of the film noir as well as acted in dramatic turns in the thirties and forties. This film exploits her popularity to the fullest, as well as her newfound fame, and without her this film would not have had the same impact, and wouldn't have been enjoyable. Another great performance in this film comes from legendary actor Karl Malden. It's his curiosity into the death of his girlfriend and compassion towards her twin sister that really makes a statement about how a person changes when they murder someone, no matter how sweet or innocent they were beforehand. It seems obvious why Edie kills Margaret: because she is in debt, her sister has everything because she married her former beau, and Edie has had a hard, miserable life. Her impersonation of her sister isn't always spot on, and the ensuing story about her living day to day, trying to keep up the mirage she's concocted, doesn't do much except tell us about the social life of Margaret. The film doesn't say much about Edie as a character, or how she feels while deceiving everyone, including her boyfriend, which is especially damning. She is immediately demonized after killing her sister, and is oftentimes shown to be unreliable, calculating, and very bitter. This film only emphasizes Davis, and most of the film is exposition that includes her own musings. The peripheral characters are mostly slags and socialites, and except for Karl Malden, none of them give any insight into the character of Margaret, who remains a mystery except for what little insight Tony gives us, which is only that he exists. Only the ending tells us anything about either twin, gives us any moral, or any damning existential question.
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

April 8, 2013
A twist ending is the cherry on top of this okay thriller spiced with performances by always solid method actor Karl Malden and gliding-by-on-my-looks pretty boy, Peter Lawford , but anchored by the grande dame w/o the self parody that tainted her later work. Look to see the difference between how Bette smooches Karl, her boyfriend, and Peter, her, uh, other boyfriend, its worth the admission price alone.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
This is a cool thriller, Davis plays twins, and the rest of the cast is good too. I really liked this movie, it's thrilling.
bbcfloridabound
bbcfloridabound

Super Reviewer

April 22, 2010
Pretty Cool Movie as Betty Davis Plays Twin Parts, This is a twist ending suspense film that most will be able to guess 1/2 way through it. 2 sisters one rich one poor and they are twins, so the poor one kills the rich one and takes her place. Very suspenseful with what happens all through the movie. I have been creeped out by Betty Davis ever since I was a kid and still am, but in this role she is worth 4 stars
jam233
June 20, 2009
Certainly not one of Bette Davis's best, but she is always good and always worth watching. It does tend to be a bit campy, but I never lost interest. It's well made and Bette hams it up beautifully.
John Tandlich
October 24, 2013
A scorned woman learns that crime diesn't pay. Bette Davis is great as the embittered sister who kills her recently widowed wealthy twin and assumes her identity. Consider this to be the continuation of Davis' 1940s film "A Stolen Life" where she also played two twins, one good and one bad.

Davis is convincing in helping us discern the differences between the two sisters who are totally dissimilar in temperament and style. Davis fans will be amused by the wealthy Maggie's declaration that she quit smoking years before while Edith puffs like a locomotive. It is Edith who gets the upper hand, taking over her sister's life and discovers that Maggie had a few horrifying secrets of her own that render her actually quite evil.

Karl Malden is excellent in his standard role as the police officer in love with the simple Edith; her down-to-earth protector. Peter Lawford doesn't appear until two-thirds into the movie as the sleazy gigolo lover of Maggie's who realizes what is going on uses it to blackmail Edith. He eventually gets his comeuppance in a great scene where he gets attacked by Edith's dogs. A good supporting cast, especially the religious in-law played by Estelle Winwood, a butler played by Cyril Delavanti and a gossipy socialite played by Jean Hagen.

What makes this film so compelling are the lengths that Bette has to go through to keep this charade going. From the handwriting, to recognizing friends and rooms in the mansion, Bette has a field day. The irony here is great when Bette realizes what a witch her sister was, but it's too late to do anything about it. Just seeing why Bette goes to the chair at the end is just unbelievable.

Bette Davis steals every scene she was in with her over-the-top kind of performing that she became known for. This is a campy delight; not only because it gives her the most clever lines, but is a reminder of how good an actress she was.
Film  Fanatic
July 10, 2013
Crime Don't Pay.....
May 9, 2013
despite the fact that at times it seems a little unlikely its an enjoyable thriller with an origianal plot and a greatest bette davis
March 3, 2013
Very interesting, but sometime after one hour, the charade seems to have gone on for too long.
December 24, 2012
Dead Ringer is a superb film and I think it is not only one of the most underrated Bette Davis films, but also one of her very best. I found it to be a gripping and thoroughly compelling suspense film that wouldn't let me go until it was finished due mostly to Bette Davis's absolutely stunning performances playing twin sisters. The film also has many surprises up its sleeve as the plot unfolds and dark secrets are revealed. This is one of the most underrated films ever and it deserves a lot more attention because it is an amazing film, in my opinion.
August 18, 2012
There's something about Dead Ringer which keeps it from being in the same league as other Bette Davis films like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane or All About Eve. Surely it runs at least 20 minutes too long and the central conceit, Davis playing dueling twins, is jettisoned far too quickly to get on with the actual plot. The ending is a bit of an anti-climax, all things considered, but you know what? This is a lavish production with Davis front and center throughout. A whole range of problems comes to mind with taking someone else's identity, though the movie never really pummels the audience with those issues. Maybe it wants the audience to think about them independently. Maybe the movie just doesn't care to think any of those things through or show the problems on screen. Either way, Dead Ringer is still recommended.
March 12, 2012
Well-made thriller weighed down only by the annoying, harpsicord-dominated score. Excellent Cast and Bette Davis, always playing herself, did superbly
December 3, 2011
Not a great movie compared to her true classics like All About Eve, Now Voyager , Jezabel, Watch On The Rhine, Dark Victory etc but if one Bette can always make a movie at least watchable, 2 Bettes, one good & the other bad (& better) has to be an essential must-see
Dana58
July 9, 2011
What more can I say but two Bettes are better than one!
Ali Fuat Kisakurek
November 27, 2010
Bette Davis did it again, maybe to a lesser extent in comparison to Baby Jane and Sweet Charlotte, but still Dead Ringer is a highly entertaining Bette Davis thriller her fans(like me) should not miss.
jazza923
April 20, 2005
Certainly not one of Bette Davis's best, but she is always good and always worth watching. It does tend to be a bit campy, but I never lost interest. It's well made and Bette hams it up beautifully.
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