Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mirage


Mirage is a 1965 film which, I must admit, I’d never heard of before, yet it comes from the same stable as the better known Charade and Arabesque, and is arguably an improvement upon both those movies as a suspenseful mystery. The book on which it was based was written by a notable author, Howard Fast, who wrote various thrillers (that I haven’t read) under the name E.V. Cunningham.

Mirage opens with a blackout in a New York skyscraper. David Stilwell (played by Gregory Peck) is accosted by an attractive woman who claims to know him, but he doesn’t recognise her. She disappears rather mysteriously, and shortly afterwards he leans that a famous man had plunged to his death from the skyscraper moments earlier.

The plot duly thickens as it becomes clear that Stilwell is suffering from amnesia. What is going on? He hires a private eye, played by Walter Matthau in his inimitable fashion, to find out, but the gumshoe meets an untimely end.

There are hints of Cornell Woolrich style paranoia in the story-line, but the overwhelming influence is that of Hitchcock. Diane Baker, who plays the female lead, is not quite as glamorous as the typical Hitchcock blonde, and more importantly does not play her part in an especially compelling way. Nor does Peck make quite such an impact as Cary Grant at his best. But despite some weaknesses, I thought this was a decent thriller and I’m glad I watched it.

6 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember this, but you're it was not as good as several similar films such as Spellbound.

Bill Crider said...

My wife and I went to the theater to see this on our honeymoon, so naturally I have a soft spot for it.

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - I hadn't heard of this, either, before your post. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I liked Arabesque, and if you think this made for a better mystery, I'll have to check it out.

Ed Gorman said...

This is one of my favorites. So many good people in the cast. Portly agitated Jack Weston was one of my favorite character actors. The film isn't a masterpiece by any means but it encapsulated the secret govt/secret corporation themes of the early Sixties. BTW Fast wrote a number of very good mysteries. The only one that really sold well starred a Japanese detective in LA. Naturally that was the one I didn't like. Fast was a controversial figure for several decades. A fervent left-winger he was a villain in the eyes of all the anti-commie cabals of the time.

John said...

I liked this too. Not a monumetnal classic, but good in many parts. Matthau was the best thing in this. Isn't George Kennedy one of the bad guys? He was pretty good, too. Nasty as all heck. The bits with the blackout were unusual. I wonder why more isn't done with power failures in crime novels. A caper being planned meticulously and then all the crooks are trapped in the building when there's a power failure, for instance. Has that been done? Probably.

Martin Edwards said...

Some really interesting comments, thank you so much.
Bill, a night to remember!
Ed, I've never read the Fast/Cunningham books. I must check them out.
John, I can't think of a blackout movie or book, but there must be some! I agree about Kennedy. He was even ok in Lost Horizon...