This is fate we’re talking about, and if fate works at all, it works because people think that THIS TIME, it isn’t going to happen!
Some of you might be wondering where the Jane Austen is in Horrorfest? Isn’t the name of the blog, JaneAustenRunsMyLife? Well, we have had a few Jane Austen-esque things this year. First we had Death by Persuasion and Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans TV show High Seas/Alta Mar. But I thought I would throw in another film with a Jane Austen connection. Because, you know:
A while back I reviewed the book Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, and in the beginning Lindsay Doran wrote about how she was thinking about turning Sense and Sensibility into a film, but needed to find the “right” writer. While filming Dead Again, producer Lindsay Doran discovered that Emma Thompson loved Jane Austen. They spent a lot of time talking about Austen and her books:
“I got to know Emma very well over the course of the twelve-week shoot, and it wasn’t long before we discovered our mutual passion for Jane Austen. It was clear that she knew the books by heart, and that her appreciation of them was not of the dry, academic sort she enjoyed them, and she loved their wit as much as she admired their intelligence.” Lindsay Doran, from The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film
Doran then watched Emma’s show Thompson, and after seeing the writing and acting there-asked her to write Sense and Sensibility (1995). Yes, without Dead Again, Sense and Sensibility (1995) never would have been born-or a less wonderful version would probably have been created.
So let’s review Dead Again
This film struck my interest when a patron checked it out at the library. So, of course, when it came back I had to check it out and watch it. It is a film-noir, murder mystery romance.
So the film starts off in black and white in the 1940s-with and amazing into that involves newspaper stories and headlines about the Musical Murder of Margaret Strauss by her Conductor Killer, Roman Strauss. Margaret (Emma Thompson) was stabbed to death by scissors, by her conductor husband Roman, (Kenneth Branagh). He was found guilty and put on death row for the murder. As he approached the electric chair, journalist, Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), goes to hear the killer’s last words-Roman saying that this is far from over.
Now we fast forward to present time, 50 years later-a woman (Emma Thompson) with no memory and can’t talk is in an orphanage.
The nuns and priest have been taking care of her-but it appears the help she needs is much more than what they can offer. They hire Michael Church, (Kenneth Branagh) a private detective (who had been raised at the same orphanage), to take her to the asylum and discover who she is.
Michael Church (Kenneth Branagh) is known for being able to find “anything” and “anybody”. He has just found Dr. Cozy Carlisle (Robin Williams), psychologist turned store owner who’s been extremely hard to track down. He gets the call and heads to the orphanage.
Michael inspects all that they know about the unknown woman and discovers she has a Claddagh ring-an Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship-but only one band, the other is missing. He takes her to his friend at the newspaper who shoots her picture and they plan on it being printed in tomorrow’s edition. Church then goes to take the woman to the asylum, but after seeing how horrible it is-takes her to his home. Sure “just because it looks bad”-like it has nothing to do with the fact she is a pretty woman?
The woman experiences nightmares, a fear of scissors, and screams out Dysher. The next day, Church gets all kinds of calls about the woman-but all are just cranks. But then, Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi), comes calling. He is an antique dealer and hypnotist who wants to help. He regresses the woman and we shift to black and white-to the Strausses.
Los Angelas Late 1940s
Margaret was beautiful, English, and beloved by all. She performed in an orchestra and saw conductor Roman Strauss and was struck by him. Roman was a recent arrival in California, having left Europe when he escaped the Nazis during WWII, his wife dying in the escape.
Roman is just as struck a with Margaret and the two date, fall in love, and marry. Roman gifts her the Claddagh ring, with a matching one, and a very expensive anklet.
“Roman Strauss: The man I bought it from explained to me that, when a husband gives it to his wife, they become two halves of the same person. Nothing can separate them… not even death.”
They marry and at the wedding, a Mr. Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), writer, comes as the date of someone. He is enamored of Margaret and actually tries to flirt and charm her at HER wedding-ugh this dude.
Understandably, Roman is very upset and does not like him. Margaret, however, “doesn’t” understand his feelings as she loves Roman.
The two are in love and happy-except for one thing. Margaret hates Roman’s servants -Inga and her son Franky. She thinks they don’t like her and they keep usurping her authority. She wants to be rid of them, but as they saved Roman’s life he refuses to let them go. He never would have made it out of Germany without them.
After the regression, the woman can speak. They look over the Strauss story in Life magazine, located in the antique shop. They see a resemblance between the Strausses and them and that the orphanage where they both spent time in, was once the Strauss mansion.
Church gives the woman the name Grace, and then goes to see Dr. Carlisle to talk about what happened. Dr. Carlisle tells him some cases where he worked with patients and regression helped solve the issues. He thinks they should continue to see the hypnotist and see what comes of the Margaret and Roman story.
Meanwhile, Grace and Church spend a lot of time together and fall in love.
They day after they sleep together a man shows up claiming that Grace, real name Katherine Sharpe, is his fiance. He has all the answers to Church’s questions, until Chruch catches him in a lie about gloves. The man takes off and Church tries to catch him-but the man gets away.
Why would they want Grace? WHO would want her?
Church and Grace go back to the hypnotist where Grace regresses more…
Los Angeles Late 1940s
The Strausses are having more cracks in their relationship. As Roman is not involved in Hollywood, he is seen as a “nobody” and is trying to write an opera but suffering from writer’s block. They are at a party and no one wants to talk to “nobody Roman”.
Margaret gets approached by Gray and the two go outside to talk. Gray is so in love with Margaret it is super obvious-and Margaret should not be feeding into it. Gray asks to “look” at her anklet, and she obliges-he holding her leg up to take a “closer look”. Really…really now?
Margaret, can’t you see how this is something you as a married woman should bot be doing with a man who is not your husband? Hmmm….?
Roman sees them and becomes understandably furious, punching Gray in the face (not understandable) which knocks him in the pool. They try to make it sound as if Roman is a jealous brute, making a big deal out of nothing-but I have to disagree. This guy started trying to get with Margaret at her wedding-and he’s still trying. Even though Roman shouldn’t have punched him-he totally deserved it.
Margaret and Roman get into a huge fight over it, it ending as Roman confesses his insecurities.
Later Margaret catches Frankie in her jewelry and tries to get Roman to fire them, but again he refuses. Gray calls Margaret, which Roman accidentally overhears. He questions her abut the call but she lies to him.
Later, Margaret was lying in bed when she is stabbed-by Michael Church!
Grace wakes up from her trance angry, confused, and scared. Michael takes her home but she flips out convinced that he will kill her.
In order to calm her, Church decides to regress as well. What he discovers changes everything. Will they figure out this mystery and solve it before another murder? Or will history repeat itself?
I liked how the movie was in color for the present and then reverted to black and white with the past. I thought it was pretty intriguing with a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming were thrown in very well. And now that I have seen the film, that poster is so perfect and obvious. It is well worth a view for fans of Spellbound and film-noir
The end is a little cheesy, but Im not sure how else they could have had an ending that satisfied the viewer. I didn’t want to give away the end, so if you’d like to watch it, click here.
For more film-noir, go to Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life Has Turned into Something You Never Intended?: Nocturnal Animals (2016)
For more private detectives, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
For more on Sense and Sensibility (1995), go to I Don’t Want You Far From Me: Sense and Sensibility (1995)
For more on Lindsey Doran, go to The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries