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Man in the Mirror (1936)
Warning: The full synopsis contains "spoilers" which describe key plot points. If you don't want to know the plot and outcome of this film then please don't read any further.

The Medical Council

Edward Everett Horton as Jeremy Dilke Begins with a meeting of the Medical Council discussing the case of Mr Jeremy Dilke (Edward Everett Horton), on whose diagnosis it seems they cannot agree. His G.P. therefore decides to relate the story to them again in order that they may arrive at an informed conclusion. He is a partner in the firm of Tarkington & Dilke, brokers in the city of London. He is described as an ordinary man lacking dash but with the professional ability to make profits whatever the current state of the market. His partner, Tarkington, however, is a �go-ahead� modern man without consideration for others.

A Big Deal

Dilke with his Secretary Dilke has put together a deal with the Bogus of Bokarra (an Eastern potentate) relating to a number of sulphate mines and he is determined to complete the deal without the intervention of the overbearing Tarkington. Tarkington however, realising the potential, wishes to handle the deal himself. Dilke�s secretary tries to persuade him to assert his authority (it would seem that Dilke inherited the firm from his father but has allowed Tarkington to take charge).


On the way home Dilke meets Mrs Tarkington on the train. It would appear that Veronica Tarkington has a thing for Dilke and the meeting is no coincidence. Her play for Dilke is interrupted by the appearance of Dilke�s wife, Helen, who is also on the train. It would appear that although Dilke is innocent of Mrs Tarkington�s motives, his wife is not. As they eat supper later that night it becomes obvious that Helen Dilke is something of a nagging wife. A marital argument ensues and Mrs Dilke storms out of the house with the intention of staying with her mother.

The Man in the Mirror

Dilke's Alter-Ego Steps Out of the Mirror

Meanwhile a literal storm is gathering outside the house. Dilke is talking to himself in the mirror, realising that everyone including the maid thinks him to be a weak fool. For no obvious reason (save perhaps the storm outside) Dilke�s reflection, his other-self steps out of the mirror and begins to lecture him. The man in the mirror is Dilke�s alter-ego; he is forceful and dynamic and everything Dilke wants to be. He immediately picks up the phone and ingratiatingly charms his mother-in-law and his wife to return home. The two Dilkes end up fighting and his alter-ego is left lying behind the couch as his wife and mother-in-law enter the house. Dilke refuses to apologise to his wife and ends up storming out of the house himself. His alter-ego however remains in the house and startles his wife and mother-in-law by knocking over a vase. When Mrs Dilke encounters her husband�s alter-ego, he kisses her passionately in a way Dilke has never kissed her before.

The Shanghai Follies

Dilke looks in the Hotel MirrorDilke himself meanwhile is disoriented and enters a public house where he comically orders a tankard of gin. He soon notices that when he looks in the barroom mirror that he cannot see his reflection. He rushes out of the bar and returns home to discover his alter-ego about to go to bed with his wife. Dilke once again leaves the house and soon encounters a group of men and women who need directions to The Shanghai Follies (a burlesque club/restaurant) and following a brief exchange ends up accompanying them. Edward Everett Horton's mannerisms throughout are rather like that of a bemused Stan Laurel. Dilke awakens next morning in a strange hotel room and rings home only to be answered by his alter-ego. The hotel porter, believing him to be deranged, suggests he should see a doctor.

Dr. Graves

Dilke quickly adopts the hotel porter's Man In The Mirror U.S. Poster suggestion and visits his General Practitioner. Doctor Graves is surprised that Dilke has forgotten that he had visited his house that morning to patch up a bump on his head received when a burglar had hit him with a vase (this was really the altercation between Dilke and his alter-ego). The doctor is amazed to see the bump has apparently healed so quickly. According to past records Dilke's heart has always been on the left but upon examination of his (alter-egos) heart that morning it was on the right. Unsurprisingly, he discovers that it is now back on the left again. Doctor Graves suspects Dilke of having an abnormal heart condition and wants him to go to Harley Street. However, Dilke heads for the office in confusion.

A Quick Change

On arriving at the office Dilke sends his secretary out for a clean shirt and as she takes the elevator down, his alter-ego arrives in the elevator coming up. His alter-ego is dynamic and (whilst Dilke is hiding in the cupboard) summons Tarkington in order to tell him that he will be handling the Bogus of Bokarra deal himself as Tarkington is quite simply not up to it. His secretary is surprised to return and find Dilke in a complete change of clothes and to see this new dynamic Dilke. The alter-ego tells Dilke to leave. When Dilke tells his alter-ego that he has nowhere to go, the alter-ego (for no reason other than to assist the plot) tells him that he has engaged the Royal Suite at the Ritz Plaza for the Bogus, so he can book a room there (under another name). Dilke is gradually losing his identity and place in the world to his alter-ego.

The Bogus of Bokhara
Alastair Sim as the Interpreter for the Bogus of Bokhara

We now see the Bogus for the first time arriving by train for his meeting. He is attended by an interpreter (Alastair). The guard on the train hands a telegram to them and they discuss it in a strange language. When the train guard leaves the carriage the pair then begin to talk English and it becomes clear that they are simply con-men and that the Bogus is indeed bogus.

We then see Dilke outside the Ritz Plaza where he once again encounters Mrs Tarkington. She suspects him of having a secret assignation and his innocent portrayal of events even seem to confirm this. He registers at the hotel under the name of Mr. Thompson.

The bogus and his interpreter arrive soon after. There is some comedy as the Bogus, now in the company of Dilke's� alter-ego, declares that he doesn�t like his room when he is only entering the elevator. Much of this comedy would be seen as politically incorrect today with regard to race relations.

We now see Mrs Tarkington at the Ritz with friends and slightly the worse for drink. As her friends leave she asks the bell-boy for Mr. Thompson�s room number. The straight-laced Dilke is extremely disconcerted as she is shown into his room.

The Shanghai Follies
Alastair Sim as the Interpreter

Dilke's alter-ego meanwhile is showing the Bogus the sights of London and takes him to the Shanghai Follies nightclub. The national anthem of Bokarra is played as they enter. Not recognising this, the Bogus asks what is the �strange music�. When told, the interpreter quickly covers their mistake by declaring that His Highness does not recognise the English interpretation (see Memorable Quotes 2 ). Tarkington is amusingly mistaken for a waiter by the bogus pair. As the Bogus and the Interpreter become increasingly drunk, Dilke's alter-ego becomes suspicious of their colloquial expressions (see Memorable Quotes 1 ). Dilke's� alter-ego is mistaken for Dilke by the revelers Dilke has partied with on the previous evening. As his alter-ego dances with one of the revelers, Dilke is still fretting in the company of Mrs Tarkington and wants her to leave. She is persuaded to leave if he will accompany her to the taxi. He eventually ends up taking her home. Whilst his alter-ego parties with the revelers, Tarkington moves-in and signs a deal with the Bogus for the nitrate mines. Dilke's alter-ego and the Bogus get very drunk and as they leave in the taxi, the Bogus cannot keep up the pretence any longer and reveals the fraud. Dilke's alter-ego asks him to keep it secret until noon tomorrow.

Nitrate Shares
Alastair as the Interpreter with the Bogus and Dilke in a Taxi

Dilke manages to finally get Mrs Tarkington back home and she insists on him coming round with the book he intends to lend her the following evening. His alter-ego returns home late in a drunken state but still manages to charm his wife and mother-in-law. The following morning Tarkington storms in to Dilke's office to talk about his behavior with Mrs Tarkington the previous evening. He is, however, talking to Dilke's alter-ego. Tarkington goes on to confirm he is dissolving their partnership and that the deal with the Bogus for the nitrates is a personal one and not one for the firm (Dilke's� alter-ego asks his secretary to put both points in writing). Dilke's alter-ego even gets Tarkington to agree to pay the hotel bill for the Bogus. Tarkington has also started buying as much nitrate stock as he can. Dilke's alter-ego then starts selling nitrate shares. At 12.00pm the London street suddenly become busy with newspapers declaring the Bogus to be a fraud. Tarkington is now essentially bankrupt.

Back Through The Looking Glass
Dilke and his Alter-ego re-unite

Dilke rings Mrs Tarkington warning her that when he (his alter-ego) turns up this evening to lend her the book, she must not open the door to him. However, she refuses to countenance his ramblings. In an attempt to frustrate his alter-ego Dilke visits Mrs Tarkington to lend her the book at midnight. However, his alter-ego has been too clever for him and came to her house at 9.00pm. Dilke now believes he will have to leave the country. He returns to the house (another storm is getting up outside) to get his passport. However, on encountering his alter-ego they have a discussion, realise that they actually need each other and decide he should remain. As they shake hands the two Dilkes merge and become one again. He now has his reflection in the mirror again.


Interpreter: He say "Here's mud in your eye".
Dilkes' Alter-ego: The East has moved much nearer the West since I studied Geography.

Interpreter: His highness, he not recognise the English interpretation. In Bokarra it is only played on castanets after dinner when the wind is in the East.