For Reel

Corridor of Mirrors (1948)
August 21, 2015, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Terence Young
4 Stars
Corridor of MirrorsIn a telling exchange from Corridor of Mirrors, a nostalgic artist (Eric Portman) promotes the merits of living in the past, expounding that, “We don’t know whether the future will be good or bad, but we gamble on it. Well, I’ve given up gambling. I prefer the certainty.” Set just before the war, this adaptation of Christopher Massie’s novel (previously reworked by Ayn Rand as the Jennifer Jones vehicle Love Letters) suggests the precariousness of sentimentality in a time when the world was undergoing vast, irrevocable changes. In the film, Paul Mangin’s (Portman) fixation on the past leads him to begin dressing a lounge singer (Edana Romney) to more closely resemble one of the paintings in his well-preserved Venetian mansion. The makeover fetish narrative has led many critics to cite the film as a potential inspiration for Vertigo, but perhaps the better Hitchcock comparison is Rebecca (there’s even a Mrs. Danvers stand-in with a creepy housekeeper played by Barbara Mullen). Future Bond director Terence Young never made another film quite like this one, which plays like a British response to the Poetic Realists (a comparison further encouraged by the score by La Belle et la Bête composer Georges Auric) by way of Daphne du Maurier. At the time of its release, the New York Times scoffed at Corridor of Mirrors, describing it as, “melodramatic” and “preposterous”. It is just that, and gloriously so!

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