“Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” opens with Mantell anxiously awaiting the arrival of his handler. When the man (William D. Gordon) finally arrives, he verbally and physically badgers the insecure sap, who can’t countenance taking the life of another human being (in this case, a barkeep who refuses to cough up protection money).
When the mobster leaves, Mantell is confronted with a mirror version of himself. The iteration of the character is his polar opposite: he’s sharp, confident, and wholly unwilling to do the bidding of the boss. The two versions of Mantell enter into a dialogue, with the latter descending into self-pity as he laments the awful choices he’s made out of sheer weakness. As he tries to talk himself into carrying out the deed, the mirror incarnation demands that he be allowed to take over, thus saving both of them from total spiritual ruin.
How did Heyes pull this off visually years before CGI and other digital cinema trickery?