The Dark Mirror’s eerie opening scene thrusts us into a world of deceit, twists, revenge and mind-games, fuelled by sibling rivalry and psychological issues, from which you couldn’t escape if you tried.
When Dr Frank Peralta is found dead in his apartment, his girlfriend Terry Collins (Olivia de Havilland) becomes the main suspect. But there’s just one problem: she has a twin sister. When questioned by Lt Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell), Terry and Ruth refuse to confess which one of them did it, which leads to Dr Scott Elliot (Lew Ayres) being brought into the case, to study the twins and solve the mystery.
Directed by Robert ‘King of Atmosphere’ Siodmak, The Dark Mirror plays tricks with your mind, the way it’s meant to. Despite the fact – or maybe because of it – that it contains one of the oldest gimmicks in fiction, it just works. It’s great, we buy into it, and we’re enthralled by it. Mostly because Olivia de Havilland is beyond fantastic. We all love Olivia de Havilland. Like William Powell, Claude Rains or Barbara Stanwyck, Olivia de Havilland is one of those universally beloved people in classic film world. And why not? She’s incredible. In The Dark Mirror, she plays Terry and Ruth with amazing precision and detail, carefully and wisely, always making us question everything, including our own sanity, and the film’s climactic ending is one of her all-time best moments.
The Dark Mirror is a great psychological thriller. It pulls you in straight away and doesn’t let go until the very end. What more could you ask for?