July 17, 2005

Allusion sought.

I'm trying to think of a play or movie where there is a character who has two identities and then comically (or dramatically) gets mixed up and says or does something in the style of Identity A while presenting himself (or herself) as Identity B. An example would be if Superman forgot he had his outfit on and acted nerdy and ineffectual like Clark Kent. It seems like something that ought to happen as a plot device all the time, but I can't think of a single example. Try to come up with something specific, not just something like one time Don Diego acted like Zorro...

22 comments:

PORTSIDER said...

Take a look at Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Slac said...

Mrs. Doubtfire
Tootsie

Actually, this must happen in just about every movie where someone masquerades as a member of the opposite sex (which probably happens quite often in Shakespeare).

Hmmm...

Mayebe the Wizard of OZ? "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Ron said...

doesn't Ms. Paltrow do some of that in Shakespeare in Love?

Ann Althouse said...

Portsider: I assume it happens in all sorts of Shakespeare plays where a character goes in disguise. But could you describe the particulars? Usually the humor is done just by our knowing who the character is when the other characters are fooled.

Slac: I haven't seen Doubtfire (and doubtless never will), but Tootsie is a good example, when Hoffman in drag is attracted to Jessica Lange. I guess there must be a lot of drag situations like this in the movies. But maybe it's not the best example, because it's not so much a question of getting mentally mixed up as it is becoming physically aroused, out of character with your presumed sexual orientation.

Wizard of Oz is good but a bit off. The other characters see the person who's doing the voice and then he has to try to cover for himself, but he can't. Not the same as him just forgetting which character he's currently presenting himself as.

iocaste said...

Working Girl: Melanie Griffith pretends to be an executive, but almost fetches coffee when in the middle of a meeting with other execs.

iocaste said...

And, of course there's always the classic "Move yer bloomin' arse!"

Joseph Angier said...

The climactic scene in "The Stepfather," when Terry O'Quinn's character inadvertently refers to his previous identity. When his current wife responds incredulously, he says something like: "Wait ... who am I here?" just beore attacking her.

iocaste said...

I just can't stop -- there are plenty of instances of Clark Kent accidentally using superpowers.

In the first movie, he describes the exact contents of Lois's purse, for example, and then has to cover.

In the Lois & Clark series, two examples I can think of off the top of my head are where he snatched a fly out of the air, prompting an astonished look from Lois, and where he declared that a woman was a liar because he counted her pulse rate.

Ray Mescallado said...

Another gender-based example, but this one is a whole crowd: Monty Python's Life of Brian where all the "men" attending a stoning are women in disguise, and as a group they slip into high-pitched voices before correcting themselves and making their voices much lower.

PORTSIDER said...

Sorry for the lack of specificity in my previous post. In "Twelfth Night," Viola, dressed as a man (Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino. Though she is taking on a man's identity, she continually says things to Orsino that give her away. Look at Act I Scene 4 for some of the more comical bits.

Eric said...

It's more forced out of her than accidental, but Laura Linney, fearing for her life in The Truman Show slips out of her role long enough to say "Somebody do something!" in a house supposedly occupied by only her and Truman.

Troy said...
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Jamie said...

There was an episode of Joey earlier this year in which he was an understudy in one play and a regular actor in another. he winds up having to do both on the same night and gives a dramatic Shakespeare monologue unwittingly as the intro to a silly cowboy musical.

It was one of the few bright moments in what has turned out to be a dull show. I was hoping it would be what Frasier was to Cheers. No such luck.

Jim C. said...

SNL did the reverse of your example long, long ago. Bill Murray as Superman, Margo Kidder as Lois (Belushi as the Hulk).

transcript

Spider-Woman: Up in the sky! It's a bird!

Spider-Man: It's a plane!

[Superman, still dressed as Clark Kent, lands on the balcony and enters, carrying a bag of ice. Still shaken by Lois' revelation, he has forgotten to change back into Superman.]

The Flash: It's ... It's Clark Kent!

Spider-Woman: [pointing at Clark] Of course!

The Flash: Of course! Clark Kent is Superman!

Clark Kent: [realizes too late that he wears the wrong clothes] Awww ... [quietly cursing himself for his stupidity] Dumb sssss....

Judith said...

Didn't Matt Damon slip out of character a few times in "Mr Ripley"?

Jeff said...

Joey? Working Girl!?!

Come on, people.

Try the Myrna Loy/Willam Poweell classic, "I Love You Again". It's one long exercise in identity fraud in service to screwball lromantic comedy.

Poweel plays a prohibition-era grifter and wiseguy who assumes the identity of a teetotaling small town prig in order to romance Myrna Loy. The movie is full of moments where Powell breaks character to cut some gordian knot situation or other.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032617/

dirty dingus said...

Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest has a couple of moments where this happens IIRC

HaloJonesFan said...

Wabbit Season!
Duck Season!
Wabbit Season!
Duck Season!
Duck Season!
Wabbit Season!
DUCK Season!
WABBIT Season!

(and so on until Daffy convinces Elmer Fudd to blow his head off.)

Duke of DeLand said...

I had the great pleasure, many years ago, to play "Major Magnus" in the Tom Stoppard play, "The Real Inspector Hound"....

A play-within-a-play, with several characters...including two play critics who were other than they purported to be, and oft times they let loose in the wrong character.....

Magnus proves to be Inspector Hound in the end.....and there was even a "guest body" onstage each night.....

Read it and you'll see the possibilities.

Duke

Amandita said...

What about Katharine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story"? She frequently finds it difficult to keep up the calm put together socialite persona, culminating in the scene in which she becomes inebriated with Jimmy Stewart.

Jack said...

Jeff, this one's for you.

In Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: "A disguise expert infiltrates the tomato camp, but gives the game away when he asks for ketchup to eat his humans with."

Chrees said...

My first thought was The Importance of Being Earnest as well.
There are many crime/murder mysteries where the culprit of course confuses which identity they are portraying at the time. But I'm like you on that one...I can't think of an example right now.

A specific example (non-crime genre) that comes to mind is the actor playing a butler (I believe the Ryan Phillippee character). In trying to learn the role, he slips several times in his comments and actions--doing or saying something that was definitely out of place for a butler, but perfectly in place for someone of a higher class at the time. He has to cover himself every time he does that.