Mirage

Mirage - Walter Matthau and Gregory Peck

By Judy Berman

What if everything you thought was true turned out to be a lie?

You didn’t know who to turn to or who to trust. Some times, life feels like that. But we emerge from the shadows and are warmed by the light and reality.

That is not what David Stillwell (Gregory Peck) finds when he is confronted by a past he wants to forget in the 1965 film noir “Mirage.”

After a power outage in a skyscraper, Stillwell winds his way down 27 flights of stairs. He’s joined by a woman, Shela (Diane Baker). They are unable to see one another, but she says she knows him.

Stillwell has no idea who she is.

At street level, Shela realizes it is Stillwell. She is angry with him for deceiving her and runs off. He chases after her down four flights of sub-basement stairs. But she’s gone.

Back on the street, he learns that a man had jumped or was pushed out the window to his death.

That man, Charles Calvin, was the head of Unidyne, a humanitarian organization that works for world peace. His name means nothing to Stillwell, and he moves on.

Mirage - movie poster

When Stillwell returns to the building he works in, he heads down the stairs in search of the sub-basement levels.

There are none.

Perplexed, he returns to his apartment. A man (Jack Weston) riding with him in the elevator orders Stillwell at gunpoint to let him in his apartment. Weston tells Stillwell that “the Major wants to see you.”

Another name that means nothing to Stillwell. He manages to get the upper hand on Weston and gets rid of him. Then, he begins his search to discover why he has no recollection of events over the past two years.

At the same time, he has flashbacks to a time, place and people he can’t remember.

A visit to a psychiatrist was frustrating. The shrink does not buy that Stillwell is a “cost accountant” as Stillwell says or that he has had amnesia for the past two years. He tells Stillwell that “unconscious amnesia” lasts – at most – two days.

Stillwell hires a detective, Ted Caselle, (Walter Matthau) to find out who “David Stillwell” is and why someone is trying to kill him. Caselle confesses that this is his first case.

Nothing adds up. They go to Stillwell’s office – down the hall from where Charles Calvin’s office was – only to find it doesn’t exist.

When the detective asks Stillwell what he did as a “cost accountant,” Stillwell doesn’t know. Caselle also can’t see Stillwell in that line of work but he believes Stillwell’s story.

The convincer? He spotted a man (George Kennedy) following them. He turns out to be one of the menacing men who is trying to kill Stillwell.

Mirage - Gregory Peck in tunnel

“I’m kind of curious about Charles Calvin and why he went thru that window.”

Stillwell is puzzled why as he didn’t know Calvin.

“Your nightmare began at almost the exact moment his ended,” Caselle says.

Everything leads to a dead end … as do some of the people closest to Stillwell.

Bit by nightmarish bit, Stillwell discovers who Shela is and what role she played in his life. Each flashback fills in more of the memory gaps, Stillwell realizes who he really was and what he is trying to forget.

 

This film noir, psychological drama is one of my favorites. Please share one of yours in the comments below.

 

Music Video: Film Noir and Jazz – Nicholas Payton’s cover of “Chinatown” set to classic film noir images.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyEV0OHlgaE  

Photo: Mirage – movie poster

Photo: Mirage – Walter Matthau and Gregory Peck – http://fr.web.img3.acsta.net/r_640_600/b_1_d6d6d6/medias/nmedia/18/65/56/07/18870217.jpg

Photo: Mirage – Gregory Peck in tunnel  https://earthriderdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/261fb-mirage_tunnel.png

Charade in Paris

By Judy Berman

A train races down the tracks in a desolate country scene. Before the opening credits roll, one of its passengers tumbles out in his pajamas. Dead.

The widow – although she doesn’t it know it yet – also appears to be about to meet a violent end at a ski resort. As Reggie Lampert (played by Audrey Hepburn) sips a cup of coffee, a gun is aimed directly at her. Fortunately, it’s a water gun, and the shooter is her young nephew, Jean-Louis (Thomas Chelimsky).

His next water-soaked victim is Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). This Stanley Donen film, “Charade” (1963), is being re-released this year on DVD. It also can be seen online, and is well worth the view.

Most of the action in this romantic comedy/suspense thriller takes place in The City of Lights.  Several years ago, this movie inspired my husband, Dave, our daughters, and me, (all of us “Charade” aficionados) to check into the Hotel St. Jacques, stroll along the Seine River, dine on a riverboat, tour a market off the Champs-Elysees and take in other sites featured in the movie.

When Hepburn returns to Paris, she discovers her husband, Charles, had emptied out their place. She frantically runs from room to room, and is startled when Inspector Edouard Grandpierre (Jacques Marin) emerges. He asks her to come with him.

At the morgue, she identifies her husband’s body. The Inspector reveals her husband had multiple identities, planned to leave the country, and gives her Charles’ small duffle bag.

It contained an agenda listing his last appointment – Thursday at The Gardens, 4,000 francs, a letter to her – stamped and unsealed, keys to their apartment, a comb, a fountain pen, a toothbrush and tooth powder.

Not much to go on. When she returns to the apartment, the door creaks, and she hears steps across the floor. It’s Peter Joshua (Grant), and he suggests she go to a hotel where she’ll have a safe place to stay.

Hotel St. Jacques actually is a great place to stay. Some of the film’s interior shots were filmed here. But this turns out to be a bad choice for Hepburn. She no sooner opens the door to her room than she is confronted by George Kennedy (as Herman Scobie) – one of three men she wishes to avoid.

Kennedy threatens her. He and two others – James Coburn as “Tex” and Ned Glass as “Gideon” – are convinced Hepburn knows the whereabouts of the $250,000 that her husband stole from them.

Hepburn runs toward a winding antique staircase and screams for Grant. Grant rushes inside. You hear a scuffle and then silence. Hepburn tentatively opens the door and finds Grant on the floor. Kennedy is nowhere in sight. He escaped out the window. Grant follows.

When you step outside the hotel at night, you can almost visualize Grant leaping from one balcony to another in pursuit of Kennedy.

A fourth man, Hamilton Bartholemew (Walter Matthau), tells her that he’s with the CIA, and the money her husband stole really belongs to the U.S.government. Matthau tells her the government wants the money back. He warns Hepburn: “Now that he’s (Charles) dead, you’re their only lead.”

Grant and Hepburn also find time for romance over dinner aboard a riverboat along the Seine River. We took a similar cruise. In the dark, the Eiffel Tower looked golden and the view of the Notre Dame Cathedral from the river also is impressive.

Despite this idyllic setting, the body count and tension mount in the film.

The movie is a classic game of who do you trust. Donen keeps us guessing, even after Hepburn discovers where her husband hid the money.

If you can’t make it to Paris, check out this movie. Viewer discretion is advised. Shortly after you watch it, you’ll want to see the real thing.

** Post a comment below if you’d like to share what film from past decades is most memorable to you?

—–

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Photos of Audrey Hepburn, Jacques Marin, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, George Kennedy, and Walter Matthau and Audrey Hepburn in the movie, “Charade” (1963)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Charade

* “Charade” – movie trailer – about 3 minutes

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056923/

* “Charade” – movie summary, cast on IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056923/