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 Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

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.