Dead Ringer (1964)

115 mins | Melodrama | 29 January 1964

Director:

Paul Henreid

Producer:

William H. Wright

Cinematographer:

Ernest Haller

Production Designer:

Perry Ferguson

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures
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HISTORY

The 2 May 1963 LAT announced that Dead Ringer, a Warner Bros. Pictures production, would be the next starring vehicle for Bette Davis, following her newfound popularity in 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (see entry). Karl Malden would co-star in the new film, directed by Paul Henreid. Henreid had previously directed for television, and appeared as Davis’s onscreen lover over twenty years earlier in Now, Voyager (1942, see entry).
       According to the 24 May 1963 LAT, Davis would first appear in The Empty Canvas in Italy (1963), before starting work on Dead Ringer in late Jun 1963. However, Davis delayed work on the former picture until Sep 1963, following completion of Dead Ringer, as indicated in the 4 Sep 1963 DV. The Empty Canvas was ultimately released theatrically before Dead Ringer. The 11 Jun 1963 DV stated that Bette Davis had also pulled out of her commitment to appear in 4 for Texas (1963, see entry), directed by Baby Jane director, Robert Aldrich, due to scheduling conflicts with Dead Ringer.
       The 31 May 1963 LAT reported CA locations planned for the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles. The 27 Jun 1963 DV added the City Hall headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Civic Center to the list of locales, and announced a 1 Jul 1963 start date. However, principal photography began one day later on 2 Jul 1963, according to a 2 Aug 1963 DV production chart.
       ... More Less

The 2 May 1963 LAT announced that Dead Ringer, a Warner Bros. Pictures production, would be the next starring vehicle for Bette Davis, following her newfound popularity in 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (see entry). Karl Malden would co-star in the new film, directed by Paul Henreid. Henreid had previously directed for television, and appeared as Davis’s onscreen lover over twenty years earlier in Now, Voyager (1942, see entry).
       According to the 24 May 1963 LAT, Davis would first appear in The Empty Canvas in Italy (1963), before starting work on Dead Ringer in late Jun 1963. However, Davis delayed work on the former picture until Sep 1963, following completion of Dead Ringer, as indicated in the 4 Sep 1963 DV. The Empty Canvas was ultimately released theatrically before Dead Ringer. The 11 Jun 1963 DV stated that Bette Davis had also pulled out of her commitment to appear in 4 for Texas (1963, see entry), directed by Baby Jane director, Robert Aldrich, due to scheduling conflicts with Dead Ringer.
       The 31 May 1963 LAT reported CA locations planned for the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles. The 27 Jun 1963 DV added the City Hall headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Civic Center to the list of locales, and announced a 1 Jul 1963 start date. However, principal photography began one day later on 2 Jul 1963, according to a 2 Aug 1963 DV production chart.
       The 8 Jul 1963 DV reported that filming would occur for one week at the Lincoln Heights Jail. The 24 Jul 1963 DV announced that six days of location photgraphy had completed the day before at the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, CA, and that Henreid and crew would return to the estate from the Warner Bros. lot in Bunak, CA, on 1 Aug 1963 for an additional ten days of shooting. As indicted in the 26 Jul 1963 DV, Davis filmed her split screen sequences at Warner Bros. using a stand-in to help portray the dual roles of twin sisters “Margaret de Lorca” and “Edith Philips.”
       On 11 Aug 1963, NYT noted Los Angeles’s Rosedale Cemetery and an unnamed downtown bar on the corner of Temple and Figueroa Streets as additional locations, with Paul Henreid claiming that he preferred to use “real locales” to inject “as much reality into the scenes as I can.”
       The 9 Jul 1963 DV stated that Henreid’s daughter, Monika Henreid, was making her feature film debut in Dead Ringer. Drummer Kenny Dennis, organist Perry Lee, and actor Greg Benedict were added to the cast in the 1 Aug 1963 and 22 Aug 1963 DV.
       Another item in the 22 Aug 1963 DV reported that production was three days ahead of schedule, and the crew had returned to Warner Bros. yet again, where they were completing interiors on Stage 18.
       Principal photography ended on 30 Aug 1963, according to the 4 Sep 1963 DV.
       Dead Ringer opened on 29 Jan 1964 at several theaters and drive-ins in the Los Angeles area, as noted in the 26 Jan 1964 LAT. The picture opened in New York City at the Palace and other theaters on 19 Feb 1964, as reported in that day’s NYT.
       Reviews were mixed. Both the 23 Jan 1964 DV and the 31 Jan 1964 LAT complained about the “hokum,” “old-fashioned” story, but praised Davis’s performance and Andre Previn’s “macabre” score. The 20 Feb 1964 NYT stated that Dead Ringer was an “uncommonly silly little film, but it is great fun to watch,” and deemed Bette Davis’s “arresting” performance as “sheer cinematic personality on the rampage.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Jun 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
27 Jun 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Jul 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Aug 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1963
p. 9.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1963
pp. 3-4.
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1963
pp. 2-3.
Daily Variety
23 Jan 1964
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1963
p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
24 May 1963
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
31 May 1963
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1963
Section D, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jan 1964
Section A, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jan 1964
Part IV, p. 6.
New York Times
11 Aug 1963
p. 94.
New York Times
19 Feb 1964
p. 34.
New York Times
20 Feb 1964
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Miss Davis' makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Dial coach
Stills
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 January 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 29 January 1964
New York opening: 19 February 1964
Production Date:
2 July--30 August 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures
Copyright Date:
1 February 1964
Copyright Number:
LP29434
Duration(in mins):
115
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After a separation of 18 years, Edith Philips meets her twin, Margaret de Lorca, at the funeral of the latter's husband, whom Edith also loved. When Edith learns that Margaret had tricked the man into marriage, she becomes so filled with hatred that she lures Margaret to her apartment, signs her own name to a suicide note, and then shoots her sister. After changing clothes with the corpse, she moves into the de Lorca mansion and begins living her sister's life. The masquerade works until she meets Tony Collins, Margaret's secret lover. When he learns of the deception and threatens to blackmail her, Edith realizes that he and Margaret conspired to murder de Lorca. A fight ensues, and Tony is killed by the family's Great Dane. The police become suspicious and exhume the body of the dead husband. Arsenic is found, and Edith is arrested for murder. Although she tries to convince her former suitor, Sgt. Jim Hobbson, that she is really Edith, he refuses to believe her story, and she is sentenced to the gas ... +


After a separation of 18 years, Edith Philips meets her twin, Margaret de Lorca, at the funeral of the latter's husband, whom Edith also loved. When Edith learns that Margaret had tricked the man into marriage, she becomes so filled with hatred that she lures Margaret to her apartment, signs her own name to a suicide note, and then shoots her sister. After changing clothes with the corpse, she moves into the de Lorca mansion and begins living her sister's life. The masquerade works until she meets Tony Collins, Margaret's secret lover. When he learns of the deception and threatens to blackmail her, Edith realizes that he and Margaret conspired to murder de Lorca. A fight ensues, and Tony is killed by the family's Great Dane. The police become suspicious and exhume the body of the dead husband. Arsenic is found, and Edith is arrested for murder. Although she tries to convince her former suitor, Sgt. Jim Hobbson, that she is really Edith, he refuses to believe her story, and she is sentenced to the gas chamber. +

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.