A Double Life (1948)

103 or 104.5 mins | Melodrama | March 1948

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Imagination . Although not released nationally until Mar 1948, the picture was screened in Los Angeles in late Dec 1947 to qualify for Academy Award consideration. A Double Life was the initial release of Kanin Productions, a company headed by producer Michael Kanin and his brother, writer-director Garson Kanin. It also marked the first of seven collaborations between Garson Kanin and his co-writer wife, Ruth Gordon, and director George Cukor. Universal borrowed Cukor from M-G-M for the production. According to modern sources, the script was originally intended for English star Laurence Olivier, but he was unavailable. Although "Pat Kroll" was not Shelley Winters' first screen role, A Double Life is considered to be the picture that launched her film career, and was the first of many films she made for Universal. John Drew Colt, the son of renowned actress Ethel Barrymore, made his screen debut in the film. Screenwriter Fay Kanin, the wife and frequent collaborator of Michael Kanin, appeared briefly in the film as a cast member of Othello . According to a 1954 NYT article, writer-director Paddy Chayefsky, who played a photographer in the picture, was Garson Kanin's accountant at the time of production. A Double Life marked Chayefsky's first and only appearance as a screen actor.
       Technical advisor Walter Hampden, who supervised the Othello sequences in the picture, was a well-known Broadway actor-manager, with an extensive background in Shakespeare. According to studio production notes, Milt Harker, the manager of the Los Angeles office of the International News Service, served ... More Less

The working title of this film was Imagination . Although not released nationally until Mar 1948, the picture was screened in Los Angeles in late Dec 1947 to qualify for Academy Award consideration. A Double Life was the initial release of Kanin Productions, a company headed by producer Michael Kanin and his brother, writer-director Garson Kanin. It also marked the first of seven collaborations between Garson Kanin and his co-writer wife, Ruth Gordon, and director George Cukor. Universal borrowed Cukor from M-G-M for the production. According to modern sources, the script was originally intended for English star Laurence Olivier, but he was unavailable. Although "Pat Kroll" was not Shelley Winters' first screen role, A Double Life is considered to be the picture that launched her film career, and was the first of many films she made for Universal. John Drew Colt, the son of renowned actress Ethel Barrymore, made his screen debut in the film. Screenwriter Fay Kanin, the wife and frequent collaborator of Michael Kanin, appeared briefly in the film as a cast member of Othello . According to a 1954 NYT article, writer-director Paddy Chayefsky, who played a photographer in the picture, was Garson Kanin's accountant at the time of production. A Double Life marked Chayefsky's first and only appearance as a screen actor.
       Technical advisor Walter Hampden, who supervised the Othello sequences in the picture, was a well-known Broadway actor-manager, with an extensive background in Shakespeare. According to studio production notes, Milt Harker, the manager of the Los Angeles office of the International News Service, served as technical advisor on the newspaper coverage scenes. Production notes also state that the film's theater set was first used in the 1925 Universal picture The Phantom of the Opera . Some scenes were shot in New York City, including the Empire Theatre lobby, the Brooklyn Bridge and a lower East Side apartment building, according to production notes.
       In addition to a best actor Golden Globe award, Colman went on to win an Academy Award for his performance in A Double Life . Colman, who, according to modern sources, had never performed any Shakespeare before, considered "Anthony John" his most satisfying film role. Composer Miklos Rozsa also won an Oscar for his music score. Others nominated for Academy Awards for their work on the film include Cukor for Best Director and Gordon and Garson Kanin for Best Screenplay. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Apr 48
p. 116-17, 132.
Box Office
3 Jan 1948.
---
Film Daily
6 Jan 48
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 47
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 47
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 47
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 47
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 48
p. 6.
Independent Film Journal
2 Aug 47
p. 39.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Jan 48
p. 4001.
New York Times
20 Feb 48
p. 19.
New York Times
12 Sep 1954.
---
Variety
31 Dec 47
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
in Othello:
David Bond
Frederic Worlock
in A Gentleman's Gentleman:
Wayne Treadway
Pete Sosso
Leander De Cordova
Diane Lee Stewart
Ethyl May Halls
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Hasso's gowns
Miss Hasso's gowns
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Adv, Othello seq
Tech adv on newspaper seq
Prod asst
Prod asst
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Imagination
Release Date:
March 1948
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 25 December 1947
New York opening: 19 February 1948
Production Date:
early June--early September 1947
Copyright Claimant:
Kanin Productions and Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 March 1948
Copyright Number:
LP1706
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
103 or 104.5
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12847
SYNOPSIS

Broadway star Anthony John, riding high on the success of his current hit comedy A Gentleman's Gentlemen , is offered the lead in a new production of William Shakespeare's Othello by theatrical producer Max Lasker. Tony turns down the role, to the relief of director Victor Donlan, who is aware of the actor's tendency to become overly involved in his roles. Brita, Tony's ex-wife and co-star, concurs with Victor and warns press agent Bill Friend that while Tony is a delight when starring in a comedy, he is a terror when appearing in a drama. Soon, however, Tony grows increasingly obsessed with the idea of playing Othello. One day, Tony meets a waitress named Pat Kroll, and the unsuspecting young woman starts an affair with him. Despite her reservations, Brita then agrees to appear as Desdemona, and the play begins rehearsals. The production opens to rave reviews, but as feared, Tony becomes absorbed in the character of Othello and hears voices. Seeing jealousy as the key to his character, the actor nearly chokes Brita to death on the 300th performance of the play, after she shows him a locket Bill has given her for her birthday. When the play begins its second year, Tony proposes to Brita, but she turns him down. Enraged at his ex-wife, Tony goes to Pat's apartment and takes out his anger on the naïve waitress. After killing Pat, the insane actor wanders back to Brita's apartment and falls asleep on the couch. The next morning, reporter Al Cooley offers Bill front-page publicity for Tony's play, as he plans to write a story pointing ... +


Broadway star Anthony John, riding high on the success of his current hit comedy A Gentleman's Gentlemen , is offered the lead in a new production of William Shakespeare's Othello by theatrical producer Max Lasker. Tony turns down the role, to the relief of director Victor Donlan, who is aware of the actor's tendency to become overly involved in his roles. Brita, Tony's ex-wife and co-star, concurs with Victor and warns press agent Bill Friend that while Tony is a delight when starring in a comedy, he is a terror when appearing in a drama. Soon, however, Tony grows increasingly obsessed with the idea of playing Othello. One day, Tony meets a waitress named Pat Kroll, and the unsuspecting young woman starts an affair with him. Despite her reservations, Brita then agrees to appear as Desdemona, and the play begins rehearsals. The production opens to rave reviews, but as feared, Tony becomes absorbed in the character of Othello and hears voices. Seeing jealousy as the key to his character, the actor nearly chokes Brita to death on the 300th performance of the play, after she shows him a locket Bill has given her for her birthday. When the play begins its second year, Tony proposes to Brita, but she turns him down. Enraged at his ex-wife, Tony goes to Pat's apartment and takes out his anger on the naïve waitress. After killing Pat, the insane actor wanders back to Brita's apartment and falls asleep on the couch. The next morning, reporter Al Cooley offers Bill front-page publicity for Tony's play, as he plans to write a story pointing out the similarities between Pat's murder and Othello's "kiss of death." Tony becomes enraged with Bill when he sees the story, and the two fight. Afterward, Bill, thinking that Tony may be the killer, goes to the police, only to be informed that Pat's drunken neighbor has been arrested for the crime. As Tony is now demanding his dismissal, Bill plans a short vacation, but first proclaims his love to Brita. Although she does not return his feelings, Brita tells Bill that Tony left her apartment on the night of Pat's murder. Bill then hires an actress to dress up like Pat and, with police captain Pete Bonner watching, has her serve Tony at the murdered waitress' restaurant. After the distraught actor rushes out at the sight of Pat's double, Bill and the police follow him to the theater. Upon the conclusion of his performance of Othello that night, the guilt-ridden Tony stabs himself, confesses all and dies backstage. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.