FILM / Twice the Fun: Hollywood has a quiet obsession with twins. John Lyttle considers the similarities

SOME movie twins are their own punchline. The Last Remake of Beau Geste (1977) has Marty Feldman and Michael York as identical twins. Feldman can't understand why no one can detect the resemblance. In Zorro, The Gay Blade (1981) Zorro's equally brave twin happens to be homosexual. When 'Bunny' (George Hamilton) takes his injured sibling's place, he doesn't even attempt impersonation. Instead he upgrades his brother's all-black outfit - 'Plum tassels, I think' - and detests the peasants: 'I don't mind them being poor but do they have to dress so badly?'

Twins (1988), too, makes putty of notions of 'indentical'. Genetic experimentation has given Arnie Schwarzenegger the best DNA material and Danny DeVito (above, with Schwarzenegger) 'all the crap'. Big Business (1988) delivers two sets of mismatched twins. It focuses on nature vs nuture: while the city sees one Bette Midler maturing to be a ruthless, vindictive corporation bitch, her countryside counterpart blossoms into a real Daisy Mae. With Lily Tomlin, the situation reverses: her New York persona is dizzy, her rural self kicks butt. Start the Revolution Without Me (1970) takes the same plot to question class, raising one set of mismatches as aristocrats, the other pair as peasants.

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