Day 20 of Noirvember: Pat Kroll in A Double Life (1947)

Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on the luckless Pat Kroll in A Double Life (1947).

“May I take your order?’


Anthony John (Ronald Colman) is a talented but extremely intense stage performer with a tendency to completely lose himself in his roles. When he’s offered the part of Othello, he initially declines, but he becomes obsessed with the idea and eventually takes it on, with his ex-wife, Brita (Signe Hasso), reluctantly accepting the part of Othello’s wife, Desdemona. As Brita feared, over time the role begins to take over Tony’s life, until he is unable to separate reality from the story in the play – which doesn’t bode well for those closest to Tony, including a young waitress, Pat Kroll (Shelley Winters), with whom he is involved.


We meet Pat when Anthony John does, during a visit to the Venezia Restaurant for dinner; she’s the waitress for his table. She tosses a menu in front of him, he asks about the quality of the Chicken Cacciatore, and she sassily replies, “It’s your stomach.” For some reason that I’ve yet to quite figure out – other than her boss telling her, “Take good care of him” – Pat’s a lot friendlier when she returns to the table. She’s chatty and flirty, telling him her name and sharing information about the different places she’s worked. And as she helps him off with his coat, she tells him, “You’re cute.” A second later, she’s telling him what time she gets off work, jotting down her address on the back of his bill, and murmuring, “I’ll be through here in three quarters of an hour.” Not very subtle is our Pat.


She’s sexy and brazen, attractive, but with a bit of a hard edge; she’s been around the block, if you know what I mean. She’s worlds apart from the type of women Tony’s accustomed to. You’ll never catch Pat dropping foreign phrases into her casual conversation or using her best dishes to serve an elegant brunch in her apartment. She’s only in three scenes – which is a shame – but she’s a standout.


“We could tell each other our troubles, if you want to.”


Winters was born Shirley Schrift in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 18, 1922. Young Shirley made her performance debut at the age of four, at a neighborhood theater – she would later say that she couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be an actress. When she was a child, her family moved to Long Island, New York, and then to Brooklyn, where she loved spending time at the movies. She appeared in numerous plays in high school, but she left school in 1939 before graduating to become a model in New York’s garment district and attend drama classes at the New Theatre School. That summer, she found work in summer stock and then landed a job in the chorus at the La Conga nightclub. Around this time, Shirley registered with Actors Equity and changed her professional name to Shelley (after her favorite poet) and adopted her mother’s maiden name of Winter. (Several years later, Universal Studios would add the “s” to her last name.) She spent the next year haunting the offices of theatrical managers and her work began to pay off with appearances in a number of stage productions, including her Broadway debut in The Night Before Christmas. During her run in the hit Max Reinhardt play Rosalinda, Winters was spotted by Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, who signed her to a contract. Her screen debut was an unbilled bit part in What a Woman! (1943), starring Rosalind Russell. Her first film noir was the 1947 feature The Gangster, where she played a cashier.

Join me in the shadows tomorrow for Day 21 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 20, 2021.

6 Responses to “Day 20 of Noirvember: Pat Kroll in A Double Life (1947)”

  1. I was shocked that Shelly Winters was such a sexpot when she was young! She’s cute as a button in ‘A Double Life’.

  2. I enjoyed the spotlight on Shelley and this absorbing movie. A great role for her at this point in her career. As one of my sisters said about Shelly, “she never phones it in.”

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