November 4, 2012 7:49 PM   Subscribe

Movies where the plot stems from a case of mistaken identity?

I watched North By Northwest last night and was blown away by how great it was - I'd seen pieces of it here and there over the years but this was my first proper watch. I realized after that another of my favorite films, Brazil, centers around a simple case of mistaken identity.

So I feel like it might be in my interest to watch more of these type movies. Suggestions?

My tastes are mainly in thriller, horror, sci-fi. Action is alright. Not so big on comedy or traditional drama, but if you feel strongly enough about one, why not.
posted by mannequito to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It is silly espionage comedy but the entire plot of The Man with One Red Shoe rests on the mistaken identity.
posted by mmascolino at 7:53 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

First obvious suggestion if you just watched NBN is Hitchcock's 1956 film The Wrong Man.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 7:54 PM on November 4, 2012

In a non-traditional way, Memento.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:57 PM on November 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

The Big Lebowski, a little known sci-fi horror thriller would be right up your alley, although there are some humorous bits.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:57 PM on November 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also in a non-traditional way, Fight Club.
posted by bswinburn at 8:02 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Man Who Knew Too Little is a good action comedy about this.
posted by verbyournouns at 8:03 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Parent Trap is probably a canonical example.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I came in to recommend North by Northwest (my favorite Hitchcock).

Since I see that's not needed, I give you the IMDb list of movies with the keyword "mistaken identity" (some are TV episodes).

Since you liked NbNW, try Vertigo (also Hitchcock, although it's a different kind of movie). Trust me. Mustn't ... say ... more ...
posted by pmurray63 at 8:08 PM on November 4, 2012

"Desperately seeking Susan". On Wikipedia, it is described as a "comedy-drama". Possibly a bit light for your tastes.

Dead Ringer: Not exactly mistaken identity but perhaps more your cup of tea. A woman murders her twin and takes her place. I liked it a lot.
posted by Michele in California at 8:10 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Start the Revolution Without Me is a comedy, but it's a classic (at least in my book). Another classic is The Prince and the Pauper.
posted by alms at 8:10 PM on November 4, 2012

Galaxy Quest is more of a comedy, but it blends (and riffs on) sci-fi. Second Vertigo, though - definitely a thriller.
posted by Ms. Toad at 8:11 PM on November 4, 2012

While You Were Sleeping
posted by blue_beetle at 8:24 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Johnny Stecchino, featuring Roberto Begnini as a doof mistaken for a ruthless gangster. Ridiculous and silly in the best ways.
posted by calistasm at 8:29 PM on November 4, 2012

I have not seen either of the films you've referenced, so I might not be completely on the same page as you. Does people deliberately faking their identity to fool others count? If so, Dead Ringer (above) is not to be confused with Dead Ringers, the Cronenberg film about twin gynecologists who swap places. It was disturbing. There's also The Talented Mr. Ripley (thriller) and Gattaca (sci-fi), which are all about faking an identity.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 8:35 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh and totally A History of Violence is definitely a case of mistaken identity in a thriller/suspense/crime-drama.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 8:40 PM on November 4, 2012

To Catch a Thief, naturally. Hitchcock loved the wrong man theme as it made for such interesting tension on screen. Sex and the Single Girl and Down With Love *kind of* riff off that in a romantic comedy way but not in the same capacity as Hitchcock's stuff.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:43 PM on November 4, 2012

Dead Again. If you like cheese.
posted by roger ackroyd at 8:43 PM on November 4, 2012

posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:44 PM on November 4, 2012

Antonioni's The Passenger.
posted by spasm at 9:12 PM on November 4, 2012

Bette Davis in Dead Ringer (1964), also starring KARL MALDEN is the best shit EVER.

Pardon my French.


So here is the story... Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had a legendary feud going back when they first both started - in what? - the 30's??

Bette just kept on working past the point that Joan felt she was not pretty enough to lead a picture.

This lead to one of the best B-Noir films of all times (and I don't know if this is truly film noir, but it is for me!) Dead Ringer.

Filmed at the Greystone Manor in Beverly Hills - holy shite!!! It still has that iconic entryway! The stairwell off the entry is still intact!!!


Karl Malden is a mensch in this picture. And you will fall in love with him, and almost every character in the flick.


When most people hear "Dead Ringer" they think David Cronenberg and Jeremy Irons -- Yes! But not the first! Totally different plot!

Bette Davis. Bette Davis. Dead Ringer.

posted by jbenben at 9:33 PM on November 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Korean film Oldboy.
posted by keep it under cover at 9:35 PM on November 4, 2012

It's not exactly a mistaken identity movie, but by all means check out the classic thriller, Marathon Man.
posted by perspicio at 9:45 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also based on The Prince and the Pauper, one of the longer episodes in Mel Brooks's History of the World Part I has to do with mistaken identity. The rest of the movie is also worth watching. It's good to be the king.
posted by bluejayway at 10:01 PM on November 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Buttle, or Tuttle? Brazil!
posted by tim_in_oz at 11:24 PM on November 4, 2012

oh wow, a lot of quick answers. It'll take me awhile to get through these (but by all means, keep 'em coming!)
For now, a few notes from scanning down:

-I did watch Vertigo, maybe 10 years ago or so. I remember liking it but not loving it, but since I can't remember what it's even about I'll give it another try.

-Wrong Man is new to me so I'll check it out.

-Ditto to Dead Ringer, sounds really interesting.

-I'm ashamed I still haven't gotten around to seeing Oldboy, especially given how often I see it praised on Mefi, so I'll probably start with that.

-A History Of Violence was pretty good but not really mistaken identity as I recall.
posted by mannequito at 11:40 PM on November 4, 2012

Being There
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:25 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the subject of Dead Ringer, La Davis did the "mistaken twin" trope earlier and arguably better in the 1946 film A Stolen Life.
posted by La Cieca at 12:41 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know you said no comedy, but I was disappointed that nobody has mentioned Monty Python's "Life of Brian" yet.
posted by jozxyqk at 2:25 AM on November 5, 2012

The movie Red Rock West is a somewhat recent entry in the "Mistaken Man" thriller genre. If you enjoyed North by Northwest you might also like thrillers where an innocent protagonist is mistakenly believed to know a deadly secret. If that sounds interesting, try the 70's era paranonid thrillers Marathon Man and Three Days of the Condor.
posted by RichardP at 3:39 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Already mentioned, but Marathon Man and Three Days of the Condor are two of my favorite movies of all time.
posted by ellenaim at 4:29 AM on November 5, 2012

Lucky Number Slevin! So good!
posted by yawper at 4:33 AM on November 5, 2012

Hitchcock spent most of his career dealing with this theme. A few of his films have already been mentioned, but there's also The 39 Steps, Saboteur and Frenzy.
posted by afx237vi at 6:05 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Once upon a time, there was a plaid overnight bag.... What's Up, Doc? is about identical luggage and consequent mayhem.
posted by pentagoet at 6:54 AM on November 5, 2012

Another one more in the line of Three Days of the Condor is Diva.
posted by expialidocious at 7:22 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you like classics, they don't come much better than Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The whole plot, which of course exists mainly to tie dance sequences together, hinges on a very funny case of mistaken identity.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:33 AM on November 5, 2012

Date Night.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:30 AM on November 5, 2012

The Lana Turner scene in L.A. Confidential.
posted by Bonzai at 10:14 AM on November 5, 2012

Secret Window, in a non-traditional way.
posted by cnc at 10:38 AM on November 5, 2012

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