In his new thriller, Dead Again, brash young director Kenneth Branagh openly courts comparison to the cinematic master, Orson Welles. Branagh borrows freely from the inimitable Citizen Kane, and also includes a number of visual references to the collected works of another cinematic legend, Alfred Hitchcock. For instance:
When Branagh visits an aged Andy Garcia, it’s a virtual replay of the scene in Kane in which inquiring reporter William Alland visits an aged Joseph Cotten — just as Cotten begs for a forbidden cigar, Garcia pleads for a cigarette.
Branagh’s first appearance as Roman Strauss is staged with his mouth in tight close-up, just like Welles’ first appearance in Kane.
The final shot of the Strauss mansion, its iron gate decorated with a musical clef, recalls the final pan down Kane’s Xanadu.
Hanna Schygulla, as the Strauss’ scheming housekeeper, harks back to Judith Anderson’s Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock’s Rebecca.
* A painting of melting scissors in Emma Thompson’s apartment alludes to the famous Salvador Dali dream sequence in Spellbound.
When Thompson brandishes scissors in self-defense, she’s invoking Grace Kelly’s scissors scene in Dial M for Murder.