Mirage (1965 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Produced by Harry Keller
Written by Peter Stone
Howard Fast (book)
Starring Gregory Peck
Diane Baker
Walter Matthau
Music by Quincy Jones
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Edited by Ted J. Kent
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s)
  • May 26, 1965 (1965-05-26)
Running time 108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,500,000[1]

Mirage is a 1965 thriller directed by Edward Dmytryk from a screenplay by Peter Stone, based on the novel "Fallen Angel," written by Howard Fast under the pseudonym Walter Ericson; the novel is not credited by title onscreen. The film stars Gregory Peck, Diane Baker, Walter Matthau, and Kevin McCarthy, and was released by Universal Pictures.


After emerging from a blacked-out skyscraper from which a famous humanitarian apparently jumped to his death, David Stillwell (Gregory Peck) is stunned to discover that gunmen are chasing him and he has no idea why. Stillwell gradually realizes that he suffers from "unconscious amnesia", and that this illness has apparently caused him to forget the events of the past two years. The problem is that a prickly psychiatrist he consults assures him that it is impossible for unconscious amnesia to last more than a day or two.

As he furiously tries to piece together the puzzle of his life, Stillwell comes across Shela (Diane Baker), who implies that they have been involved in a relationship. She is vague and evasive, insisting that not remembering is the only thing keeping him alive. He apparently has something a mysterious figure known only as "the Major" wants, but he doesn't know what it is. He recalls working as a cost accountant for Unidyne, the company Charles Calvin (Walter Abel), a wealthy (and apparently suicidal) humanitarian whose "nightmare ended just as [Stillwell's] began".

Nothing adds up. Stillwell's life is threatened by mysterious men (George Kennedy and Jack Weston). He engages the private detective Ted Caselle (Walter Matthau), who is more willing than able, this being his first case. The case? Find out who David Stillwell is and why strangers are trying to kill him.

When Stillwell seeks out Calvin's widow to ask what killed him, she replies: "You did."

As his mental fog lifts, Stillwell comes to realize that he is not at all what he thought himself to be. He is a physical chemist; "cost accountant" was a metaphor he had used for his ethical situation. He actually works for the Garrison Foundation, a secret branch of Unidyne, where he developed a method to neutralize radiation, allowing radiation-free atomic bombs to be made. He then burned the only copy of his work; Calvin tried to reach out the window to grab the papers and fell to his death, inducing Stillwell's amnesia.



The Hitchcockian screenplay was written by Peter Stone as a follow-up to the hugely successful Charade. Matthau and Kennedy were holdovers from the cast of Charade.

Filming took place on a number of locations in the New York Financial District. The fictitious Unidyne company was headquartered at 2 Broadway. Another key location in the film is the walk with Peck and Baker through Battery Park to City Pier A.


  1. ^ Anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 36

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