Repeat Performance (1947) Alfred L. Werker
Ok Ru (1:32)
Repeat Performance asks a question we’ve probably all asked at some point: What if I could live part of my life over and change the outcome? This happens to Sheila Page (Joan Leslie) on New Year’s Eve as she finds herself holding a gun, standing over her dead husband Barney (Louis Hayward). In a panic, she flees the scene and seeks out her friend, a poet named William Williams (Richard Basehart in his first film). During this frantic moment, Sheila wishes she could go back and live 1946 all over again, but with a different outcome.
And she gets her wish. It takes Sheila several moments before she understands what’s happened but she wastes no time in trying to change the events that led to her husband’s death. She’s not going to make the same mistakes this time, yet she knows information she’s not supposed to know, things that her friends can’t know since they haven’t been given this gift (or maybe it’s a curse?). The entire film is something of a precursor to the type of stories that were common to shows like The Twilight Zone and for the most part, Repeat Performance works quite well (but with a bit too much melodrama for my taste). Leslie was allowed to bring more range to this Eagle-Lion production than she usually was in her previous Warner Bros. films. The movie also features Tom Conway and a young Natalie Schafer, about 20 years before she embarked on a three-hour boat tour on Gilligan’s Island as Mrs. Howell.
The film has been notoriously difficult to see unless you could see it at a film festival or on cable TV. Thankfully the Film Noir Foundation, in conjunction with the Packard Humanities Institute, restored the film a few years ago. I hope we see a nice Blu-ray release of this one in the near future.
Next: Alaskan Noir
Photos: Streamline, Classic Film Aficionados, IMDb