You would be forgiven if you were not familiar with the name Edna Romney. This one-time actress had the distinction of starring in a single feature film, but that feature film is also one she also co-wrote and had a major hand in creatively guiding. This fact is made all the more impressive that it was created in the 1940s, a time not especially kind to women creatives. Corridor of Mirrors was released in 1948 to general critical acclaim, but has mostly been forgotten in the intervening years. Those who do remember it may note it for being the directorial debut of Terence Young (From Russia With Love, Wait Until Dark), or perhaps the film debut of the great Christopher Lee (Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings franchises). Even without these famous points of entry, the film serves as a mysterious gothic drama which flirts with the horrific and fantastical sides of reality. You may not be familiar with it as of yet, but it is one worthy of a rediscovery.
The narrative eschews the expected masculine point of view from the very beginning by focusing on Mifanwy Conway (Edana Romney), a woman with a loving husband and children who seems to be plagued by a recurring nightmare. She is being called by memories of the past to return to London where she reflects on the mysterious time she spent with a former lover, Paul Mangin (Eric Portman). Theirs is a classic tale of obsession and the toxicity that can radiate from it. Upon first sight, Paul is utterly transfixed by Mifanwy, but this is mostly due to the fact that she bears an uncanny resemblance to a 15th century woman in a painting that consumes him. He is so enraptured as to believe she is the reincarnation of this woman, which seems slightly less crazy knowing that he believes himself to be the reincarnation of that woman’s lover. There is at least consistency with the delusions. Mifanwy is not an irrational person, but she does slowly get sucked into his delusions which mutate in some very intriguing ways. When the pair begin playing into the delusions, the beliefs of the characters become extremely murky.
Romney is a relatively reserved presence as Mifanwy, but Portman plays Paul as deliciously unhinged in a way that gently escalates towards the thrilling finale. The trailer included on this release draws connections to the classic Beauty and the Beast film which has elements of magical realism interspersed, and this feature is operating on the same wavelength. Young employs some POV shots that would feel more at home in a more modern production more so than something this early on. Many moments are downright hypnotizing as the titular corridor of mirrors creates a kaleidoscopic effect that leans into the otherworldly nature of the tale. Most of the horrors are internalized within the characters, but when they make their way out the effect can be very unsettling. The film presents with a nice array of twists and turns that coalesce effectively by the end of the narrative. It is not as outwardly showy as some of the horror films at the time, but it creates an eerie atmosphere that really works to its advantage. You may have not heard of this one before, but that gives you all the more reason to seek it out to see what you have been missing.
Corridor Of Mirrors makes its Blu-Ray debut thanks to the Cohen Media Group with a brand new 1080p master from a new restoration. Apart from a few minor instances of lesser quality, likely due to the source elements, it is heartening to see this transfer look so spectacular. The gorgeous black-and-white photography sparkles in high definition with natural grain intact. There is a fantastic amount of detail present with nice textures on the clothing and within the production design. The new transfer shows off a great amount of depth and enhanced detail within the production design. Black levels are very deep with no trace of black crush or compression artifacts. The contrast is well defined, and there are only occasional nicks and scratches present in a handful of scenes. Cohen Media Group has done a lovely job here.
The Blu-Ray comes with a steady DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mono track that serves this movie well. The first thing you will notice is the Georges Auric score which becomes increasingly frenzied as the movie progresses. It mostly maintains a nice fidelity, but some of the highest registers can sound a bit harsh. Despite the strength of the music, nothing ever overpowers the dialogue or other important information. Dialogue and background noises are represented in perfect harmony with all competing elements. The only element where this track really falters is with some age-related damage including some crackling and distortion. There are also optional English (SDH) subtitles included for the feature film. While the condition of the audio elements could be stronger, overall this suits the movie well.
- Trailer: The two-minute trailer from Cohen Media Group is provided here.
Corridor Of Mirrors is a forgotten atmospheric drama which revels in the unsettling nature of obsession and delusions. The filmmaking from Terence Young is quite impressive and allows this tale to unfold with an eye towards the artistic. Cohen Media Group and Kino Lorber have released a Blu-Ray featuring a great A/V presentation but not much in the way of special features. Having a good quality copy of this hard-to-find gem is reason enough to celebrate this release. Recommended
Corridor Of Mirrors is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Cohen Media Group and Kino Lorber have supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.