The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was: Myths of Self-Imitation

By Wendy Doniger | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Mind Lifts

We’re more than memory banks. From the first moment that we
saw each other, we were drawn together
.

Bob Boxletter to Marion Boxletter in Duplicates (1992)

UNDERNEATH THE HEAVY romantic veneer, many amnesia films are driven as much by legal, political and material concerns as by erotic ones: the estate in As You Desire Me, the political and economic transformation of Charles in Random Harvest, the money for the operation in Memory of Love. In Love Letters, Singleton does time for the murder of Roger, though in the end we learn that she was innocent. And to return the compliment, love and/or sex keep getting into the films about money and politics. Murder, evil science, and espionage, like all criminal activities (more recently, terrorism and drug trafficking), generally inspire lies of one sort or another and occasionally require masquerades that involve self-impersonation, particularly erotic self-impersonation.


MURDER: VERTIGO (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of the noir side of the film genre of the tragedy of remarriage, and his masterpiece is Vertigo (1958):

Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart), an ex-San Francisco policeman who had quit the
force and was recovering from an incident of vertigo, was hired by an old schoolmate of
his, Gavin Elster, to tail Gavin’s rich young, blonde wife Madeleine. Gavin said she had

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