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A Double Life

A Double Life(1948)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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Broadway star Anthony John, riding high on the success of his current hit comedy A Gentleman's Gentlemen , is offered the lead in a new production of William Shakespeare's Othello by theatrical producer Max Lasker. Tony turns down the role, to the relief of director Victor Donlan, who is aware of the actor's tendency to become overly involved in his roles. Brita, Tony's ex-wife and co-star, concurs with Victor and warns press agent Bill Friend that while Tony is a delight when starring in a comedy, he is a terror when appearing in a drama. Soon, however, Tony grows increasingly obsessed with the idea of playing Othello. One day, Tony meets a waitress named Pat Kroll, and the unsuspecting young woman starts an affair with him. Despite her reservations, Brita then agrees to appear as Desdemona, and the play begins rehearsals. The production opens to rave reviews, but as feared, Tony becomes absorbed in the character of Othello and hears voices. Seeing jealousy as the key to his character, the actor nearly chokes Brita to death on the 300th performance of the play, after she shows him a locket Bill has given her for her birthday. When the play begins its second year, Tony proposes to Brita, but she turns him down. Enraged at his ex-wife, Tony goes to Pat's apartment and takes out his anger on the naïve waitress. After killing Pat, the insane actor wanders back to Brita's apartment and falls asleep on the couch. The next morning, reporter Al Cooley offers Bill front-page publicity for Tony's play, as he plans to write a story pointing out the similarities between Pat's murder and Othello's "kiss of death." Tony becomes enraged with Bill when he sees the story, and the two fight. Afterward, Bill, thinking that Tony may be the killer, goes to the police, only to be informed that Pat's drunken neighbor has been arrested for the crime. As Tony is now demanding his dismissal, Bill plans a short vacation, but first proclaims his love to Brita. Although she does not return his feelings, Brita tells Bill that Tony left her apartment on the night of Pat's murder. Bill then hires an actress to dress up like Pat and, with police captain Pete Bonner watching, has her serve Tony at the murdered waitress' restaurant. After the distraught actor rushes out at the sight of Pat's double, Bill and the police follow him to the theater. Upon the conclusion of his performance of Othello that night, the guilt-ridden Tony stabs himself, confesses all and dies backstage.