Last Saturday night, I was so over tired from my busy week that I had a hard time getting to sleep and so I did what I always do when this happens, I watch old movies. Turner Movie Channel is my go to place for old movies and last night they offered a Bette Davis film called Dead Ringer.
I had not seen this film before...or at least I don’t remember seeing it, but because I’m writing the weekly recap of American Horror Story: Freak Show which features a
special type of twin (Siamese) and stars Sarah Paulson as twins Dot and Bette Tattler, I watched the film to do a comparison on what makes twins tick. http://biffbampop.com/?s=American+Horror+Freak+Show
Bette Davis plays both Edith Phillips and Margaret DeLorca. The sisters haven’t spoken for years because Margaret stole Edith’s boyfriend, the very wealthy Frank by pretending she was pregnant. I get the feeling that the films back then were just as racy as they are today. While Margaret lived a life of luxury complete with servants and chauffeurs, Edith had to struggle to keep her little bar open. Edith was three months behind in the rent and the bank was threatening to close her down. Edith had no love for her snobby sister, but she did have a plan.
Edith is loved by a detective, Sgt. Jim Hobbson (Karl Malden) but she doesn’t ask him for help and it’s a shame because this man loved her and was planning on marrying her. Edith asks Margaret to come up and visit and actually gets Margaret to confess that she was never pregnant with Frank's baby and that it was only scheme to be a rich wife. A bullet to Margaret's head and a quick switch of clothing has everyone fooled into thinking Edith committed suicide because of her impending loss of the bar and means of support.
Everyone is fooled, everyone but the dog, a Great Dane and the servants. Edith loves the dog whereas Margaret hated her husband's pet. Edith is also chain smoking to the alarm and confusion of the staff. Now here is where it gets tricky. Margaret was no saint and she had a lover named Tony (Peter Lawford) who not only knows right away that he's dealing with Edith and not Margaret, but he decides to blackmail Edith.
Things go from bad to worse when Tony is killed by the Great Dane after Tony attacks Edith. But, Edith is not in the clear because her boyfriend the cop has been investigating the mysterious death of Margaret's husband. The proverbial dog doo hits the fan when it's discovered that Margaret and Tony poisoned Frank with arsenic.
If only Jim had asked Edith to marry him sooner, if only Margaret wasn't a bitch, if only the Great Dane had buried the dead Tony in the back yard with his other treats, but it wasn't meant to be and when Jim comes to arrest Edith, she tells him her true identity but you know what...there's no way to prove it. Forensics wasn't used in murder cases back then...not like they are now. Jim is repulsed and does not believe her, telling her "Edith would never hurt a fly."
Edith is sentenced to death and as she’s led away from the courthouse, a troubled Jim approaches her and asks if she really is Edith. She reminds him that "Edith would never hurt a fly" and departs. Bam!!! One sentence says it all and that is why I love Bette Davis!
I love stories about twins especially when the twins don’t get along that well. Twins run in our family and for the most part, as far as I know, they’re not trying to do each other in, but I had seen the jealousy and resentment emerge when they were little and one of them did better at school. It’s only natural. You’re bound to this person from the womb and even though you and your twin are similar, you’re not clones.
I’ve been doing the weekly review for American Horror Story for Biff Bam Pop and this year on Freak Show we are treated to a special type of twin. Bette and Dot Tattler played by the very talented Sarah Paulson are Siamese twins who are jealous of each other and often dream of doing each other in because they desire different things.
There have been plenty of movies about twins and one that comes to mind is Dead Ringers starring Jeremy Irons in the 1988 Canadian American psychological thriller about identical gynecologists who do each other in, but there haven’t been that many movies about conjoined twins except for the 1932 Tod Browning Film Freaks
and the 1951 film starring real conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in Chained for Life. I have included the film below if you wish to watch it, but fair warning, it did not do well at the theatres.
With Sarah Paulson's Siamese twins Bette and Dot Tattler having everyone who watches the weekly episodes of American Horror Story: Freak Show wondering which twin will survive the season, my money is on Dot. I think Dot has a bit of Edith (Bette Davis) in her and although Dot like Edith would never hurt a fly; she is quite capable of killing her sister.