10 September 2006 | blanche-2
A sudser with two Bettes and one Glenn
Bette Davis is Kate and her twin Pat in "A Stolen Life," a 1946 film which also stars Glenn Ford, Walter Brennan, Charles Ruggles, and Dane Clark. We first see Davis as the artist Kate visiting the family's New England cottage (these people have homes everywhere). There she meets the drop-dead gorgeous lighthouse man Bill (Ford, in his first role after the war). She falls hard. Then we find out she has a twin sister who is much less reserved, sexier, and who goes after what she wants. On her way to a lunch date, Pat sees Bill, who mistakes her for Kate. One look at him, and she's ready to play along. But really, who could blame her? That day, Bill finds out that Kate is a twin, and that Pat turns him on - while he's only fond of Kate. Nature takes its course, and guess which Bette gets left out.
This is a very entertaining movie with Davis creating two different characters. In the very beginning, you don't know Davis has a twin. She returns home and enters her room with the light off, and her sister starts talking to her from the other side of the room - with a perkier voice, so not even that gives it away. Slowly, we realize they're identical twins, and that she hasn't let Bill into the house because her sister is a man magnet.
Glenn Ford is one film away from big stardom in "A Stolen Life" --next, he would romance Rita Hayworth in "Gilda." At 30, he was stunningly handsome with the easygoing, gentle, and sweet manner that would hold him in good stead for the next 45 years. Truly an ideal leading man. He and Davis get excellent support from Charles Ruggles, in a nice performance as the girls' cousin, and Walter Brennan, Ford's irascible lighthouse boss. Dane Clark's role is somewhat troublesome. In the John Garfield vein, he plays a rough, temperamental artist who teaches Kate to paint better and becomes interested in her, but his role drops off. The entire role could have been cut.
Davis was 37 when she made this film, which she produced herself. With three years left on her contract, it was sadly her last hit at Warners. Deservedly so, because she is terrific in the dual roles. She would repeat this device later on in her career with "Dead Ringer," and some of the plot points are reminiscent of that film.
Wonderfully entertaining and a must for Davis and Ford fans.