Let’s be honest here. At least one of your imaginative childhood adventure plays had a twisty subplot where someone who looked exactly like you had nefarious intentions. Who among us hasn’t been fascinated by impostors, alter egos, and evil twins? These are classic tropes of storytelling that thrive through generations. Here are ten items in our collection in honor of National Look Alike Day (it’s a thing! We looked it up!). Grab your doppelganger, make a trip to the Library, and enjoy this special day together.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: Two men, one a French aristocrat unfairly targeted by the French Revolution and the other a dissolute English law clerk, are in love with Lucie Manette. They are also so alike in their look that one can pass for the other, giving rise to a number of adventure, intrigue, and a tragic triumph. If you haven’t read it since school, maybe it’s time to give this classic another go.
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare: I will confess: there are not many writers for whom I am willing to suspend my disbelief the way Twelfth Night requires, but Shakespeare is just that good. Look alike siblings Viola and Sebastian suffer a shipwreck and each believes the other to be dead. Now alone in the world, she disguises herself as her brother and enters the service of hunky Duke Orsino, who is in love with the lady Olivia. Unfortunately–or maybe not–for Orsino, Olivia develops a passion for the young messenger, while the young messenger is falling for her boss, who has no idea she is a woman. It’s all very complicated, but it’s a delightful mess to untangle.
Dave: Dave is recruited as a momentary stand-in for America’s Chief Exectutive but finds himself continuing the masquerade indefinitely.
The Prize: In Stockholm, Sweden to collect his Nobel Prize in Literature, American writer Andrew Craig, played by Paul Newman, stumbles across a plot to kidnap a fellow Nobel laureate. On arrival at the hotel, he meets physicist Prof. Max Stratman. They have a pleasant conversation and agree to meet for drinks the next day. When they meet again however, the Professor acts as if he’s never met Craig. With his propensity for partying and drinking too much, Craig doesn’t have a great deal of credibility with his hosts, including the person assigned to him by the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Inger Lisa Andersson. An attempt on Craig’s life and a chance encounter at a local hospital provides the evidence he needs.
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain: Twain must of had some fascination with mistaken identity. It’s a situations that comes up often in his works. In The Prince and the Pauper, two 12 year-old boys switch places in 16th-century England. Prince Edward lives in a castle with his father, the King, while poor Tom Canty is scraping by with a mean thief at the head of his household. Their trade has monumental consequences for everyone.
The Parent Trap: Twin sisters, previously unknown to each other, meet and antagonize each other at summer camp before joining forces to get mom and dad back together again. If you think too long about the ethics of concealing the fact that their daughters have a sibling you’ll hate this movie, but if you just enjoy the silliness and the awesome midcentury California ranch where the second half is set, it’s enjoyable.
Orphan Black: Sarah is on the run from a bad relationship when a look alike stranger commits suicide right in front of her. Sarah sees a solution to all her problems by assuming the dead woman’s identity and clearing out her bank account. Instead, she stumbles into a thriller mystery, and uncovers an earth-shattering secret: she is a clone. She learns there are more like her, genetically identical individuals, nurtured in wildly different circumstances, and someone is trying to kill them off, one by one.
Vertigo: A tale of obsession, fear and murder stars Stewart as a detective afraid of heights who is obsessed with a lost love and her look-alike, Kim Novak.
Leaping Lemmings by John Briggs: Lemmings all look alike, sound alike, and act alike, except for Larry who uses his independent mind to teach the other group how to use their brains and stop making terrible group decisions.
Imposture by Benjamin Markovitz: When she embarks on a love affair with a man she believes to be Lord Byron, passionate and bookish Eliza Esmond is startled to learn about her paramour’s true identity as the look-alike author of a successful book believed to have been written by Byron.