MIRAGE. Released: July 7, 1965. Running time: 109 minutes. Cast: Gregory Peck (David Stillwell), Diane Baker (Shela), Walter Matthau (Ted Caselle), Kevin McCarthy (Josephson), Jack Weston (Lester), Leif Erickson (Crawford Gilcuddy), George Kennedy (Willard), Robert H. Harris (Dr. Broden), Anne Seymour (Frances Calvin), House B. Jameson (Bo), Hari Rhodes (Lt. Franken), Neil Fitzgerald (Joe Turtle). Producer: Harry Keller. Writers: Peter Stone (screenplay) and Howard Fast (uncredited; based on his 1952 novel Fallen Angel, as by Walter Ericson). Director: Edward Dmytryk.

   David Stillwell has managed to do the impossible, at least according to a nervous psychologist who presumably knows about these things: While David has spent the last two years living and working in New York, he has absolutely no memory of any of it. “Impossible!” says the shrink that he has desperately sought out; amnesia can last, at most, maybe two months — not two years!

   But when a nervous pro-wrestling-addicted schmo practically kidnaps him in his apartment, and a big plug ugly starts taking shots at him in the park, and people he knows — or thought he knew well — either wind up dead or are plotting to kill him, it occurs to David Stillwell that he will have to retrieve his lost memories — and fast! Unknown to him, buried deeply in his subconscious is the knowledge of something — and this is no exaggeration — that could completely change the world forever . . . .

   There are a lot of twists and turns in this movie, too many to detail, but it zips along at a good pace. By telling the story in a nonlinear way with lots of flashbacks that at first don’t make much sense, the viewer is kept as much in the dark as the main character about just what the heck is going on. The writers lean heavily on Gregory Peck’s amiable charisma to keep the audience sympathetically engaged in his nightmare.

   The production also makes full use of late autumn scenes in New York’s streets and Central Park, and although the film is a full-length theatrical release, it seems wise for them to shoot it in muted black and white in order to give it a noirish feel.

   The aforementioned “nervous psychologist” is played by Robert H. Harris, one of those familiar faces from mainly ’50s and ’60s network TV that you might have trouble attaching a name to. The IMDb awards Harris 130 credits, including a long run in The Goldbergs (51 episodes), Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Court of Last Resort (23 episodes), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (8 episodes), Perry Mason (7 episodes), with sporadic appearances in dozens of shows and movies as late as The Six Million Dollar Man in 1977.



PostScript: The one copy of Fallen Angel currently on AbeBooks has an asking price of $3500.