Spellbound (1945)

"Very Good"

Spellbound (1945) Review


Spellbound lands as one of Hitchcock's classics but it's far from his best work.

The entire plot is one of Hitch's more absurd (adapted from the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes). Back in 1945, the idea of psychoanalysis was just coming ito its own. Freud's ideas had really taken off, and wouldn't you know it, the time was right to make a movie based on the notion.

Gregory Peck plays a psychotherapist named Anthony Edwardes -- that is, until he's revealed to be an amnesiac nut case named J.B. with a secret to hide. Eventually he goes on the run with (real) therapist Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman), accused of murder. A whirlwind road trip ensues with, of all things, an in-depth psychotherapy session, as Edwardes/J.B. explains a crazy dream (visualized by Salvador Dali), which is promptly psychoanalyzed, curing its patient.

Yeah, a little silly. Ingrid Bergman always tends to ham it up anyway, and her Nordic accent and mannerism turns her instantly into a female version of Freud. The "psychotherapy" in the movie is both ridiculously simplistic and overwrought, with Petersen certain of J.B.'s innocence. J.B., meanwhile, becomes fascinated with virtually every object around him, with each little detail setting off some repressed memory or another. Peck plays the character, as instructed by Hitchcock, with an utterly blank, lost, and slightly confused look which makes him more pathetic than sympathetic.

Nonetheless, Spellbound has moments of crowd-pleasing delight. The abbreviated Dali sequence (originally envisioned as a longer scene and pared back when it was shot) is spectacular -- the closest example of genuine art we have on celluloid. The score won an Oscar, and the ending is also fantastically cool. Though the film is shot in black and white, the film washes red for a split second as a gun fires, ending the movie. (Hitchcock would revisit this blink-and-you-missed it finale with Psycho's abrupt transformation of Norman Bates.) In the end, it's worth watching, though the plot tends to slip away over time while you remember only the highlights of the film. (And what would Freud say about that?)

Now released in a Criterion super-fancy edition DVD, there are as usual more extras than I can begin to count. The insert booklet outlines the making of the film (including David O. Selnick's own depression and eventual desire to make a movie about psychotherapy); it's a highlight of the set. Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane offers a feature-length commentary, and countless interviews and essays complete the collection. One essay devoted to the truth behind the legendry of the Dali dream sequence is particularly worthwhile.



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $7M

Budget: $1.5M

Production compaines: Selznick International Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Producer: David O. Selznick

Starring: as Dr. Constance Petersen, as John Ballantine, as Dr. Alexander Brulov, as Mary Carmichael, Leo G. Carroll as Dr. Murchison, as Dr. Fleurot, as Mr. Garmes, Bill Goodwin as House detective, Steven Geray as Dr. Graff, Donald Curtis as Harry, Art Baker as Det. Lt. Cooley, Regis Toomey as Det. Sgt. Gillespie, as Dr. Hanish, as Hotel masher

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.