Friday, October 14, 2011

Try to Remember: The Amnesia Trilogy. Part 2: MIRAGE

Ignorance can be bliss — but not if you’re Gregory Peck in the 1965 Universal thriller Mirage (click here to see the entire movie!). Playing our hero David Stillwell, Peck finds himself both literally and figuratively in the dark during a blackout in the Unidyne Building, a (fictional) Manhattan skyscraper. Since Mirage was written by one of my favorite writers, Peter Stone (Charade, Arabesque, Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and so much more), Mirage’s offbeat, cynical yet sparkling wit kicks in immediately, with every line sketching David and his fellow New Yorkers in brief yet memorable brushstrokes. This movie has plenty of Stone’s playful wit, yet it also has a lot on its mind. For instance, while the lights are out, everyone but our hero treats the blackout as a fun excuse to make out in the dark and, as David wryly notes, “rescind all the Ten Commandments,” as exemplified by two pretty young women who come on to him:
Blonde: “Everybody’s going to the boardroom in 2709, the one with no windows. We’re having a party. Want to come? It’s a Braille Party.”
Brunette: “Braille. Get it? The touch system.”
Meanwhile, others in the Unidyne Building regard the blackout as a mere inconvenience:
First Man: “This’ll probably make me late for the theater.”
Second Man: “What are you seeing?”
First Man: “Benefit. The whole thing’s deductible.”
Second Man: “Yeah, I know, but what are you seeing?”
First Man: “You know, that thing with what’s-his-name.”
Diane Baker as Shela, Our Lady of the Stairwell
Even David’s colleague Sylvester Josephson (Kevin McCarthy) quips about taking advantage of the blackout for making whoopee: “We’re marooned on a mountain, bubbie. Whoever pulled that plug gave me a foolproof excuse for the wife.” But David opts to nix the orgies and descend the 27 flights of stairs he’s got ahead of him. Soon he finds himself with a traveling companion: a beautiful, sophisticated young brunette (Diane Baker) who doesn’t happen to mention her name. She can’t see very well in the dark, especially since the only light David has is a pocket-size flashlight. But she sure seems to recognize David’s voice, happily so: “I heard you were back in town!” David swears he doesn’t know her (though he wishes he did), but he’s helpful and charming all the same. Sophisticated Lady still hasn’t mentioned her name, but she sure talks a blue streak, chatting away about personal topics and people who she clearly thinks he knows: “You wouldn’t know why he did it, would you? Cut off the electricity, I mean. If it were anyone else, I’d say it was a practical joke, but not The Major….” Once they reach street level, the lights go on — and Our Lady of the Stairwell (as David playfully calls her later) is chagrined and furious: “I knew it was you! That was a stupid joke!” When David introduces himself, that only makes things worse; she angrily runs down the stairs into the basement as fast as her little Cyd Charisse legs will carry her. Bewildered, David gives chase all the way down to the building’s subbasements, four of them in all (this will be important later).

Cost accountant fu!
When David finally gets out of the building, he finds himself in the middle of a crowd of onlookers ranging from shocked to jaded (Mirage is set in New York, after all). It may have been all fun and games when the lights went out, but when they went back on, it turned out someone had fallen from an open window, seemingly a suicide. An onlooker remarks, “If I had the guts to step out of that window, I’d have the guts to go on living.” The Unidyne reception desk is manned by Joe Turtle (character actor Neil Fitzgerald, whose credits include The Informer, Niagara, Bulldog Drummond, Mr. Moto, and Sherlock Holmes movies). Joe knows and likes David, on account of “you’re the only man in this whole building who can say my name without making it sound like a joke.” Joe notes that all of the city’s bigwigs showed up in a hurry after news of the death plunge. David asks Joe if he has any idea why the lights went out. Joe muses, “Someone upstairs playing God, most likely. A man living that high up gets aspirations, you know.” David’s about to discover Joe just might be right.

Maybe David needs a good self-help book!!
When David heads to a local bar before going home, it’s quietly chilling to see the darkened street being hosed down in the suicide’s aftermath. At the bar, everybody knows David’s name, but for him, it’s anything but cheers. Somehow, he realizes that he’s just going through the motions. As far as David knows, he’s a cost accountant at Unidyne. But something’s wrong somehow. As was the case with Our Lady of the Stairwell, he becomes aware that he really doesn’t know who he is or what’s going on. What’s more, when David goes back to Unidyne to find those subbasement levels from before, he’s only able to find one level. As my husband Vinnie would say, “The hell?” Soon the news of the dead man is splashed all over the front pages of newspapers nationwide. The departed John Doe is a big fish indeed: Charles Stewart Calvin, head of the renowned Charles Calvin Peace Organization. In fact, Calvin’s best-selling book The Peace Scare is displayed in bookstore windows all over town. David’s memory starts messing with him in earnest, with quick, sharp flashbacks when he least expects them. Even falling watermelons are unnerving in the increasingly strange and sinister world David has found himself in. Fun Fact: Charles Calvin is played by Walter Abel, longtime veteran of movies and Broadway. In fact, Abel played the amnesiac hero in the 1936 suspense drama Two in the Dark, which was remade in 1945 with Tom Conway and Ann Rutherford as Two O’Clock Courage (an undersung favorite of mine).

To borrow a line from A.H. Weiler’s New York Times review of Mirage from May 27th, 1965, our man David is “caught up in (a) sinister merry-go-round (and) behaves as naturally as a man could who discovers at the outset that he can’t remember what has happened to him in the last two years.” But there are plenty of people eager to help him out—of the country, that is! Seems like everyone David encounters wants to give him a one-way ticket to Barbados—and why not, since they keep insisting that “I hear Barbados is gorgeous!” Every time David nixes the offer, other sinister types try to force the issue, including bespectacled heavy Willard (future Oscar-winner George Kennedy in his second go-round as a Peter Stone villain after Charade) and gabby, gun-toting wrestling fan Lester (Jack Weston) who shares a push-button elevator ride with David and a sexy electronic voice (“she” should date HAL 9000). When they get off, Lester pulls a gun on our perplexed hero; lucky for David, he seems to have picked up the moves on Lester’s favorite wrestling show, though his memory is still playing hide-and-seek. The story is credited to Walter Ericson — which was a nom de plume for Howard Fast, the novelist who brought us Spartacus and Rachel and the Stranger, among others!

“Again with Barbados? You’ve been saying that through the whole picture! Who are you guys, The Barbados Tourism Board?”

He’s got the whole world in his hands….
So far, the primary clue to David’s predicament is a keychain shaped like Earth, with the logo “The Future is Here.” Swell, but before David can look forward to the future, he has to unlock his past. Something had happened to him over the last two years, and every time some little flashback sparks a fleeting memory, David’s subconscious aggressively tries to kick it to the curb. Mirage is unique in that unlike most movie amnesiacs who are desperate to remember who they are and what they’ve done, David is subconsciously prolonging his amnesiac state because reliving that memory, whatever it may be, is just too painful for him to face. On an increasingly tender note, however, there’s Our Lady of the Stairwell — but you can call her Shela. You’d think someone as sophisticated and smartly-dressed as Diane Baker’s Shela could afford to put an “i” in her name! I love it that Baker’s Jean Louis wardrobe includes a chic turban, just like my dear stylish mom used to wear when she was feeling exotic. Shela starts out playing it cagey and mysterious, popping up when David least expects it, usually at such picturesque NYC locations as the Central Park Zoo  (where I spent many happy hours as a child; it was one of our family's go-to spots in Manhattan). When he encounters her again at Battery Park, the conversation becomes urgent:

David: “Shela, you’ve got to tell me who he is and what he wants! He can’t have it both ways. How can I give him anything if I can’t remember what it is?”
Shela: “Be grateful for that. Not remembering is the only thing keeping you alive!”
David: “But why?”
Shela: “Because you know something you shouldn’t about him. But also, you have something he needs. That’s why he’s taking a chance on keeping you alive a little longer.”
David: “I’ll have to write him a thank-you note.”

A Peck on the chic
We discover that Shela is the troubled mistress of Unidyne’s president, Major Crawford Gilcuddy (Leif Erickson), a.k.a. The Major. Apparently he’s assigned her to keep tabs on her old flame David. For both of them, I’d say it’s nice work if you can get it — amnesia, murder, and treachery notwithstanding! Despite loving each other, those crazy kids Shela and David had issues over ideology and commitment, and probably money issues, judging from references to Shela’s “extravagance.” This may also explain her Jean Louis fashions and her apparent “kept woman” status over at Major Manor. (What kind of salary does David earn in his line of work, anyway?) As Shela puts it, “We’re a couple of mules, David. The harder we pulled on each other, the harder we dug our heels in. You wanted me to commit first, without promises, out of principle. I wanted the promises first. Togetherness is just dandy, but I’d just as soon have foreverness.” I’ve always liked Diane Baker’s work, including her performances in The Prize, Marnie, and of course, Mirage. Having said that, sometimes Shela comes perilously close to simpering, if not outright whining. When Baker/Shela does what I call her “Simper Fi” routine, I wish I could leap into the screen, shake her by the shoulders, and snap, “Sheesh, lady, call off your pity party already! Use your money and connections for something useful, like teaching kids to read or learn a trade!” But when Baker and McCarthy’s characters eventually pull themselves together and do something useful, I cheered out loud! Indeed, Vinnie came into the living room to see what all the cheering was about!
Bubbie baby, give up! They’re here already!
McCarthy cracked me up with his then-current hip lingo (“bubbie,” “baby,” “sweetheart”). That said, in addition to adding humor to the proceedings, McCarthy also becomes gradually more serious as Mirage reaches its tense climax. McCarthy’s performance is an excellent portrayal of an executive just trying to stay out of trouble by brown-nosing his way through life and being forced to grow a conscience in spite of himself — a long way from McCarthy’s iconic role as Dr. Miles J. Bennell in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers!
Almost everyone in Mirage is jaundiced, cynical, paranoid, and/or just plain out for themselves, like Dr. Augustus J. Broden (Robert H. Harris, who does a fine job playing a pompous ass who at least admits he’s a pompous ass), the psychiatrist author of The Dark Side of the Mind,  who David consults in hopes of getting insight into his amnesia. Doctor and patient get off on the wrong foot when David claims the book’s co-author Dr. Max Ellman recommended him to Dr. Broden, only to be caught in a lie when Broden reveals Dr. Ellman has been dead for years. Things go from bad to worse when David absolutely can’t remember anything of the past two years of his life. Dr. Broden angrily gives David the boot, convinced that he’s a criminal and that he’s faking his amnesia as “a dodge to establish a tricky defense. There’s no such thing as the sort of amnesia you describe. There never has and never will be.” Well, at least Dr. Jerk didn’t take David’s money! (To be fair, he's helpful later, though no less pompous and selfish.)

Casselle, P.I. Fee: $500 a day, plus Dr. Pepper and p.b. and j.
Happily, there are other people besides Shela who believe in David, like Irene (Eileen Baral), the little latchkey kid whose parents work the night shift, making it possible for Shela and David to hide from the police there after poor Joe Turtle’s murder. It’s touching how sweet Shela is with Irene in this scene, playing house with David and an empty coffee pot (“I’m too young to drink coffee”), tucking her tenderly into bed. (Wish we could’ve seen what her parents thought, if they didn’t just chalk it up to a child’s imagination!) My favorite of these good-guy characters is newly-minted private investigator Ted Casselle, played by the delightful, scene-stealing Walter Matthau before he became an Oscar-winning star. He’s so new to the P.I. biz that David is actually Casselle’s first client! Unlike the iconic hard-boiled private eye, Casselle prefers Dr. Pepper and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to booze and cigarettes, but he’s loyal, honest, funny, and he delivers the goods, bless him! But Casselle had better watch his back, because it’s starting to look like people on David’s side don’t have long lifespans….

“It’s coffee-er coffee!” Writer Peter Stone used a real 1960s coffee commercial line in this scene.  Anyone here know the brand? It's driving me nuts!
Gregory Peck’s production company collaborated on Mirage with Universal. According to Tom Weaver’s liner notes on the LaserDisc (yes, we of Team Bartilucci own the LaserDisc as well as the DVD from Universal’s Gregory Peck Collection), Peck was eager to include Cary Grant-style bon mots in the script. Stone and director Edward Dmytryk were worried. According to Dmytryk, “After Greg left, Stone said, ‘God, I don’t know what we’re gonna do here. He can’t do jokes like Cary Grant!’ But I realized that Greg was a very straightforward and honest man, and I said, ‘I’ll betcha that if you write some ‘Cary Grant jokes,’ they’ll be the first things to go when we actually start shooting it. I think Peck is honest enough to know that he can’t do that kind of thing.’ And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.’” (The situation was similar when Peck teamed up with Sophia Loren on Arabesque, but it seemed to me that Peck had become more comfortable with the witty dialogue by then. Peck may not have been Cary Grant, but I found his attempts to be more Grant-like were rather charming. But I digress….) I very much like Director of Photography Joseph MacDonald’s black-and-white imagery (I Wake up Screaming; The Dark Corner; The List of Adrian Messenger, among others). It left me with the feeling that a film noir lurked beneath the crisp, beautiful autumn New York locations, adding to Mirage’s paranoid atmosphere. I also loved F/X ace Albert Whitlock’s matte falling effects, not to mention Quincy Jones’ lushly romantic score, one of his earliest, with touches of Bernard Herrmann in Vertigo mode.

Underground fight in the subbasement
I wonder how many film actors have played characters with the same name back-to-back? I don’t mean movie series characters such as James Bond; I mean a sheer unadulterated coincidence, as was once the case with Gregory Peck. Of course, according to the IMDb, Peck played David Stillwell in Mirage, this week’s Amnesia Trilogy movie. But one year later, Peck played another David, namely Professor David Pollack, in Stanley Donen’s kaleidoscopic comedy-thriller Arabesque! Coincidence?

Hey, dig! It’s Franklin Cover, The Jeffersons’ Tom Willis!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MIRAGE Ending Spoiler!

David falls into the clutches of Major Crawford Gilcuddy, a.k.a. The Major, and his henchmen as well as his toady, Sylvester Josephson. Willard savagely beats David up, then holds a gun to David’s head. A rather one-sided game of Russian Roulette ensues. The terror and shock of it all finally unscrambles David’s memory. He remembers that the subbasements he thought he’d seen in New York’s Unidyne Building were actually in California, where he’d been working as a physiochemist for the past two years—not as a cost accountant (more on that in a moment). In California, David had been working in a radiation lab at Garrison Laboratories. He remembers that he had called a meeting with The Major and Charles Calvin. David had discovered how to neutralize nuclear radiation at its source, therefore making a “clean bomb” that would be safer to use. But David had also realized, to his horror, that this would also make such bombs easier to use — ugh, just what this crazy old world needs, a shortcut to World War 3!

Outraged, David had snapped, “Isn’t there enough money in peace these days?” Meanwhile, The Major has dollar signs in his eyes as he demands to have copies of David’s report sent around immediately. David realizes that Charles’ Peace Foundation is in bed with Unidyne. He points out that it’s illegal for a foundation to do business with a profit-making organization. Charles replies, “I can’t respect any legality that would impede progress.” He asks The Major to leave so he and David can talk. Dismayed, David says, “We’re being turned into statistics, case histories, and percentage points, all in the name of progress! Whatever happened to human beings?” 

A gun to the head may be quite continental, but...why do bad guys always threaten to kill our hero unless they get the formula? Don’t they know if they kill our guy, they won’t get what they want anyway? Haven't they ever read or seen The Maltese Falcon? Idiots!
Charles brings David to the window. “Is that what you want to see, David? Human beings?” He opens the window, gesturing at the night sky. “Come here, David. Look at them.” He and David look down on the street below, 27 floors down. Calvin says, “Do they look like human beings, or ants? You/re quite right, David, they are statistics. But I didn’t do it to them. I’m not responsible.”

David replies, “Maybe you are responsible. You’re one of the leaders. You have the power to control progress and to protect human dignity.” Suddenly the lights in the skyscraper go out. “What’s this? Crawford’s way of keeping me in the building until you can soften me up? Don’t you see what he is, Charles?” As Charles tries to get his secretary on the intercom, David says, “Those people down there aren’t even ants to him; they’re articles of commerce. That man computes human life in terms of dollars and cents. He’s made you his prize salesman, and I’m the cost accountant trying to cut down his overhead with what you and he call progress! I won’t let you have this, Charles.”

Scene cuts from the flashback to The Major’s study in the present. The Major is getting tired of waiting: “Get out of here, David.” Our hero retorts, “How far would I get? A block? Two?” Then another flashback kicks in: David had set the report on fire. Aghast, Charles had raced to the window, desperate to get the burning report. In his frenzy, Charles had accidentally launched himself out the window to his death. Shocked, David turns away from the open window, his face covering his hands as he trembles violently for what seems like eons. Eventually, David’s hands come down. His face is somehow blank and stunned all at once. He trudges out of the office in a bit of a daze, and that’s where we viewers came in.

Yay! Annie Oakley Shela grows a backbone!
Back in the here and now, David turns to The Major. “I didn’t kill him! You did!” The Major points out that he wasn’t in the room when Charles fell out the window, but David’s not buying it: “You were there, Crawford. Your sickness was inside him. You’re a carrier. You infected him, and he died from it.” Willard’s about to resume the Russian Roulette game when a shot rings out. Everyone is gobsmacked to see that Shela shot Willard — instead of feeling sorry for herself and letting The Major call the shots, Shela is finally on the right side! You go, girl! 

At first, The Major and Josephson are pretty darn ticked-off at Shela, but David notices a change in the atmosphere: “What’s wrong, Major? You look nervous.” He realizes that Josephson has the gun now. Forget the “bubbie boobie baby” nonsense — David persuades/reminds Josephson that The Major is alone now, except for him: “For once in your life, you’ve got power. Use it!...He ordered two men killed. That’s first-degree murder! We can get him, Josephson, you and I.” The Major dangles the possibility that if Josephson sticks with The Major, “You’ll have a job at Unidyne for as long as you live.” David laughs sarcastically: “And how long do you think that’ll be? You’ve already hesitated too long. He’ll remember that…Commit, Josephson! If you’re not committed to anything, you’re just taking up space!” The Major tries one more time to bring Josephson to his side, but Josephson just smacks away The Major’s hand with the telephone receiver. Hooray, it’s Grow a Backbone Day!

Josephson, too! Backbones for everyone—I’m buyin’!
David and Shela are in each other’s arms as the police arrive. Shela asks, “Do you know why it happened?” David replies, “I believed in Charles Calvin so much that I forgot he was only a human being.” He figures he’ll be going back to work now that “Humpty Dumpty is back together again.” She asks, I don’t suppose you could use any help?... You could run an ad in the Times: ‘Wanted: Extremely lonely young lady with a fairly low opinion of herself due to many mistakes. Willing to work long, hard hours….” Shela and David embrace again: “Oh, David, help me. Please help me.” David assures her, “We’ll help each other. That’s really what it’s all about, anyway.” The End!


  1. Well, it's now clear that I need a refresher course in Mirage! I haven't seen it since my early days of Gregory Peck fandom. (So maybe that was all of three years ago. It feels like such an age though!)

    Though I felt the film was a little long and tedious, that's actually a large part of what makes it work. The story evolves slowly and the audience never really knows more about his identity than David Stillwell does, and we share in his confusion - because we can't know what truly happened until he does too.

    And let me just say that the little "The Future is Here" keychain is inexpressibly creepy.

    I cannot wait until you review Spellbound. Ingrid Bergman + Gregory Peck = a Hitchcock movie made in heaven. ;D

  2. Emm, I know what you mean about feeling like your early days of fandom (not only Gregory Peck fandom, but other stars, too) were so long ago. Believe me, Emm, we all feel that way at one time or another, whether we're young or simply young at heart. But the great thing about loving classic movie stars when you're young is that you get so much cool movie lore to catch up with and teach/impress other budding fans! :-)

    You hit the nail on the proverbial head when you said that while MIRAGE can seem slow-moving in spots, ironically that's also part of what makes it work. In fact, for me (and for you, too, I'm betting), a good deal of MIRAGE's agonizing suspense comes from all the waiting, worrying, and bewilderment poor Gregory Peck has to go through, king of like a more anxious version of waiting for the other shoe to drop!

    And for the record, I agree with you about that creepy "Future is Here" keychain. Your ol' Auntie Dorian got a chill down the spine, too! :-) Seriously, it still gives me a frisson of dread whenever I watch MIRAGE, even though I know what's coming. BRRR!!!

    I'm looking forward to covering SPELLBOUND as much as you are! :-) It's always a delight to talk classic movies with you, Emm; as always, feel free to join the conversation anytime!

  3. Hi Dorian, after reading your excellent post I realized that I did not remember as much of Mirage as I thought I did, so I used (It's been 20 years at least) so I used your link (Thanks ) and took a look.
    Since your from The East coast you did not know some of the little West Coast "in stuff " that was in the film. My two favorites are using one of the top So Cal sports radio heros Tom Kelly as the TV voice of the Wrestling show, and as the TV news man the real Dean Of 60's LA TV News KNXT channel 2 (now KCBS) Jerry Dunphy a So Cal legend..

  4. Paul 2, thanks for praising my MIRAGE post! I'm glad you found the link to the movie helpful, too. Also, thanks for giving me the skinny on MIRAGE's West Coast inside jokes! I admit I don't Believe it or not, I actually knew who Jerry Dunphy was, thanks to my late dad. Thanks for joining the conversation; always glad to have you drop by!

  5. Okay. I have to check out "Mirage". I thought I saw it once and didn't like it. Of course, I was about 12 at the time. What a dumb 12-year-old I must have been!

  6. I haven't seen this one, but it sounds fascinating, especially the opening during a blackout (a reference to the great NYC blackout of 1965?). I agree that Peck is no Cary Grant; his persona is probably a bit closer to Jimmy Stewart's as the befuddled, decent Everyman. It's always fun to watch thrillers from the early 60s now, because the women's fashions are just gorgeous --all those Jackie-Kennedyesque slim skirts and pillbox hats make the actresses look so beautiful. Thanks for your review!

  7. Dorian, this is a terrific little film in the Hitchcock vein and Edward Dmytryk does a fine job. My only problem with it is I am no big fan of Gregory Peck, an actor who despite some excellent films (Cape Fear, To Kill a Mockingbird) I generally, most of the time, find a bit of a straight laced stiff. Peter Stone's script as you correctly point out is sharp and funny as well a great thrill ride. Kevin McCarthy is perfect as a corporate toad. Excellent work here!


  8. I'd forgotten all about this movie too, Dorian. Though I know I saw it. At one time I saw just about every Gregory Peck movie coming down the pike. My favorites are CHARADE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. (Love those glasses!)

    Another great review of course, and thanks for refreshing my memory. You also reminded me that I've been meaning to watch THE PRIZE for some time now but...simply forgot. (I'm as bad as Peck's character in MIRAGE.)

    A true story:

    Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked at Decca Records on 45th and Park.

    One day, coming back to the office from lunch, I found Gregory Peck and his impossibly chic French wife, waiting in the lobby for the elevator.

    I played it cool (yeah, right) but inside I was fainting dead away.

    I stood next to him in the elevator - he was very tall and just about the handsomest man I'd ever seen. The movies didn't do him justice. He was staggeringly handsome at this point in his life. It was the early sixties.

    His wife looked a big smug. Just the way I would have looked had I been her. :)

    Good memory.

  9. I have never seen this! I showed a lot of discipline in hurrying past the spoiler part without looking! I want to see this one, and your well-written description is the reason. Love everybody in the cast, and such an intriguing storyline. Great post, Dorian. I love your really creative idea for the Amnesia Trilogy -- great idea!

  10. Yegads! Not, CHARADE. Obviously I meant ARABESQUE.

  11. Caftan Woman, no need to berate your then-12-year-old self about not loving MIRAGE sooner; it even took me a few years to warm up to it! I was in high school when I really got into MIRAGE (God bless WPIX-TV in my hometown of NYC; they had the coolest movies), and I've made up for lost time. Welcome to the MIRAGE fold, C.W.! :-)

  12. GOM, many thanks for your kudos of my MIRAGE review! The 1965 NYC Blackout seemed to be quite inspirational for suspense writers! :-)

    While I enjoyed Peck's MIRAGE performance, I think you hit the nail on the head with your excellent James Stewart comparison. Although he did a fine job playing characters wrestling with their dark side in the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann, Stewart's basic down-to-earth decency usually shone through in the end.

    I absolutely agree that the fab 1960s fashions are always a highlight of films of that era. I had first-hand knowledge from my dear mom, who was quite the fashionista in her day! As I've said elsewhere, down-to-earth though Mom was, she also loved wearing stylish clothes (and dressing little me in stylish clothes, too :-)), and she knew how to rock a hat, not to mention Jackie Kennedy-style ensembles. Ah, memories! Thanks for joining the conversation; I really enjoyed what you had to say!

  13. John, while I like Gregory Peck, particularly in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, CAPE FEAR, and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, I get what you're saying about Peck's "straight-laced stiff" side. However, I think that side of Peck comes out mostly when he's trying to be a comedian with a suave, romantic side, like in ARABESQUE and DESIGNING WOMAN -- in other words, trying to be Cary Grant, who's a tough act for ANY actor to follow! :-)

    When Peck plays to his stalwart, upstanding strengths, he's tops. But as you and I have agreed, the great Peter Stone's sharp, funny script combines with the taut suspense to give us viewers a dandy thrill ride. I'm also pleased that you enjoyed Kevin McCarthy's performance as much as Vinnie and I did! Thanks for your praise and insights!

  14. Yvette, you said about your forgetfulness: "I'm as bad as Peck's character in MIRAGE." Hardly, my friend; trust me, I'm far ditzier than you could ever be! :-) Anyway, it's OK; I knew you meant to say ARABESQUE and not CHARADE. It's an occupational hazard with all those dazzling stars in Peter Stone's sparkling scripts! :-) But as much as I've enjoyed so many of Gregory Peck's movies, I'd say his Oscar-winning performance as Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is Peck's most unforgettable performance, no MIRAGE pun intended (well, maybe a little :-))! And I agree, Peck rocks those glasses!

    I absolutely loved your anecdote about sharing an elevator ride with Peck and his wife in the elevator in the early 1960s! (I believe Mrs. Peck's name was/is Veronique, but don't hold me to it :-)) I can well imagine that inside, you were "fainting dead away"! (Kinda like our experience meeting Adrien Brody last year, except that he was so sweet and kind that he made my daughter Siobhan and me feel too at ease to faint. :-)) And how cool that you worked at Decca Records! If I may ask, what did you do there? I bet you've got great stories to share with us, if you want to. :-)

    On a related note, Yvette, you might get a kick out of Team Bartilucci's blog post about Thanksgiving movies from last year, in which Vinnie references Peck in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD:

    It's always a pleasure to have you join the conversation!

  15. This was a fantastic review, Dorian. I think I've fallen madly in love with all your picture captions, but the one that really made me giggle was the Kevin McCarthy one. Guy sure had a lock on the "paranoia genre."

    I have a soft spot for Diane Baker and I never can understand Sean Connery's preference for Tippi Hedren over her in Marnie. I know, he's got the deranged burglar fetish but still.

    You've definitely intrigued me about this film. I'll have to check it out. Great job as always.

  16. Becky, dear friend, I'm proud of your self-discipline as you willed yourself not to read the MIRAGE spoiler! :-) I'm truly delighted that you and our friends here are enjoying the Amnesia Trilogy! If you find yourself with time and a comfy chair on your hands sometime soon, why not click on the link at the top of this blog post, and sit down and enjoy MIRAGE in its entirety for free? I'd love to hear your opinion afterward!

    Thanks for your positive feedback, Becks, as always! I hope you'll enjoy the third and final installment of The Amnesia Trilogy this coming Friday: Gregory Peck returns for more amnesia-based suspense in Alfred Hitchcock's SPELLBOUND. All together now: "Don't forget!" :-)

  17. Rachel, I'm so glad you've joined the MIRAGE conversation, and I'm tickled and flattered that you're enjoying my playful captions -- thanks a million! And I agree with you about MARNIE and about Kevin McCarthy having a lock on paranoia flicks. For the record, one of my favorites among McCarthy's terrific performances is actually one of his funnier ones: the villain in INNERSPACE. My husband Vinnie and I often crack each other up with McCarthy's line "Jack, sitting here, freezing as we are..." (Admittedly, it's even better in context. :-)) Hope you'll click on the link in the MIRAGE blog post and enjoy MIRAGE in the comfort of home!

  18. Thanks for the free movie, Dorian! That's great...and I LOVE Spellbound. I'll write that on the calendar and not depend on memory...LOL!

  19. LOL, Becks! That's why Team Bartilucci has a calendar in almost every room! :-) Looking forward to hearing what you think about MIRAGE, and soon, SPELLBOUND. Loving movies is fun! :-)

  20. The very first time I saw this movie was on TBS "back in the day," as the young folk say...and it's one of my very favorites (I have always been a huge fan of Diane Baker--she's an amazingly underrated thesp). I was fortunate that a buddy o'mine made me a DVD-R of his laserdisc copy because for a long time it wasn't available as a commercial DVD...and when they finally made it available, it went OOP (plus, money is kinda tight around Rancho Yesteryear). I still have the DVD in this huge honkin' pile of...oops...NO! Well. I just knocked them over...I'll have to cut this short...

  21. Ivan, I remember so well the joy of watching MIRAGE and other Universal suspense films on TBS in my younger days (though as I said earlier to Caftan Woman, I began to enjoy it much more when I rediscovered it in my high school years)! I agree that Diane Baker is an all-but-hidden gem.I hear ya about money being tight, too!

    On a related note, Ivan, do you or anyone else here know if another Universal thriller, 1968's HOUSE OF CARDS with George Peppard, Inger Stevens, and Orson Welles, is available on DVD (preferably in English? :-))? If the Warner Archive or some such made it available, I'd be a most happy camper! So many Universal Hitchcockian thrillers made in the 1960s, and yet relatively few of them seem to be available on DVD. What's up with that, I wonder?

    In any case, Ivan, thanks for joining the conversation; do drop in anytime!

  22. Dorian ,I did a yahoo search for house of cards and a DVD did come up so it looks like it's available. You should do what every classic movie fan should do and invest in a DVD recorder with HDMI and 1080P up sampling if you have any questions just ask.
    BTW Kevin is a scream in the film UHF.

  23. Paul 2, we have all kinds of gadgets around our home, and Vinnie knows more about many of them than I do (I'm all but a Luddite when it comes to technology, I'm afraid), so I'll follow up on your suggestion with him; thanks for the tip! And as fans of Weird Al Yankovic, Vin and I loved UHF and Kevin McCarthy's comic turn; sometimes I don't think people realize how versatile McCarthy was, bless him! :-)

  24. Dorian Always remember , "WE Have It all On UHF".

  25. Dorian BTW, I just gave "The Trilogy" a plug on Trivia Time.

  26. Paul 2, I noticed your nice shoutout for The Amnesia Trilogy! You're a pal -- thanks a million!

  27. LOVE this movie! Not quite Spellbound, but darn close. I really liked Diane Baker in this too. And Greg - well, what's not too like? Thanks for shining a spotlight on this very entertaining and must-see film.

  28. FlickChick, thanks very much for your positive feedback! True, SPELLBOUND is a hard act to follow, but as you said, what's not to like about Gregory Peck, not to mention Diane Baker? And Walter Matthau is no slouch either, if you ask me! :-) But you and other TotED readers will have your big chance with SPELLBOUND on Friday -- I'm making it the big finish to The Amnesia Trilogy! :-)

  29. Thanks for leaving a link to this review over my site, Dorian. Peter Stone wrote this one? I'll definitely check it, sounds very interesting. Great review!

  30. You're most welcome, Clara! If you love CHARADE, I'm confident you'll love MIRAGE, too, both films having been written by the late, great Peter Stone! Speaking of CHARADE, I'm delighted that you'll be blogging about it in our upcoming THE BEST HITCHCOCK MOVIES (THAT HITCHCOCK NEVER MADE) Blogathon in July! Thanks for joining the fun!

  31. By the way, folks, our longtime friend and fellow CAPrA member Mark L. Blackman was finally able to tell me that the "coffee-er coffee" which the little latch-key kid (Eileen Balal) pretended to serve Gregory Peck and Diane Baker was, in fact, Savarin! Mystery solved! Thanks, Mark, if you're reading this! :-)