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The Kiss Before the Mirror 1933
Description: When a popular doctor kills his adulterous wife, he is defended by his greatest friend, an attorney who suspects that his own wife is having an affair.
Released: 04 May 1933 Director: James Whale Writers: Ladislas Fodor (play), William Anthony McGuire (screenplay) Actors: Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan, Paul Lukas, Gloria Stuart Genres: Mystery
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The Kiss Before the Mirror Reviews:

If you only know Frank Morgan for the Sorcerer of Oz and his another comedic roles of the 30s and 40s, then you don't wish to miss his performance here. It's an entirely various Morgan, as the love besotted lawyer married to Nancy Carroll,and defending his greatest mate Paul Lukas who is accused of murder. I had to look twice to be sure it was him and not his brother Ralph who might have been more at home in this kind of role. It's difficult to relate to Frank Morgan in a torrid embrace with Carroll who is the nominal star of the film. But that aside, he is rather pretty and does a cute nice job even though the movie has the typical over-acting of the early talkies.Gloria Stuart, in an all too short appearance, is simply superb (why don't they create clothes like that anymore?) as the erring wife of Paul Lukas, and lover of Walter Pigeon (in a very tiny role). Lukas puts three bullets into her and the murder trial is on with Morgan as the defense lawyer. He uses the "unwritten law" defense and his client is acquitted. As all this is happening, Morgan discovers that his own wife, Carroll, is having an affair with Donald Cook (good grief!!) When Morgan learns of it, he contemplates putting a several of his own bullets into her and using the same defense at his own trial. But reason wins out and he abandons the plan Since this is a pre-code film, Carroll is forgiven, falls into Morgan's arms, and doesn't have to pay for her sins, as she would have in Code movies beginning the following year.If you can receive past the sometimes hammy acting styles and the "dearest" and "darling" dialogue, this isn't a terrible film. In fact, I rather enjoyed it but then I am a sucker for movies of the early 30s.


This racy pre code courtroom drama is not very good,but it is well acted by a nice cast. Frank Morgan plays a Viennese lawyer who defends his friend, Paul Lukas, who has murdered his wife played by an absolutely beautiful, Gloria Stuart(who has a brief,surprising nude scene-we see her back as she strips).Morgan finds himself suspecting his own wife, played by Nancy Carroll,of infidelity. The movie is wonderfully photographed and does a nice job showing us the life of these wealthy Austrians.The boyfriend,played by an early Walter Pidgeon,is shown in the opening stage in a superb home which is sumptuously decorated.The visual style as in many Whale films is striking.Unfortunately,the original enjoy that this is based on,seems wonderful and rather florid, although the infidelity elements are not that dissimilar from Kubricks,Eyes Wide Shut, also based on a Viennese original.


This movie starts with a husband following his wife to a rendezvous with her lover. There, he savagely kills her with a revolver--shooting her repeatedly as she fell to the ground. The husband, Paul Lukas, instantly smartphones the police to turn himself in for murder. However, his lawyer (Frank Morgan) works difficult for his acquittal or a lenient sentence, since the husband was driven to this by his wife's behavior. Morgan's insistence of Lukas' innocence is important, since Morgan himself realizes his wife is also committing adultery and proving Lukas' innocence is, in a way, vindication for Morgan if he, too, decides to slay his wife.As for Morgan, his performance is quite atypical. Instead of the usual great guy or comical figure, here he plays a highly emotional and almost unhinged man. He's a bit over the top in his acting, but his melodramatic behavior is fun to watch.The movie was directed by James Whale--the same boy who directed Boris Karloff and Colin Clive in the first two of Universal's Frankenstein movies. Like these films, THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR is notable for having many quiet moments where there is no incidental music. This is necessary because it adds to the tension and drama--producing a stark but intense film. Additionally, the movie manages to do a lot in only a tiny over an hour--a sign of perfect direction. The only negative is that the final stage with Morgan's wife is a bit too melodramatic--too shrill to be realistic.Overall, rather entertaining and different.



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