Jump to: navigation, search

Film Bulletin (12/Nov/1945) - "Spellbound" One of the Year's Top Grossers





Rates ★★★+ generally

United Artists (David O. Selznick)
111 minutes
Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, John Emery, Leo G. Carroll, Michael Chekhov, Norman Lloyd, Paul Harvey, Wallace Ford, Steven Geray. Victor Kilian, Rhonda Fleming, Donald Curtis, Erskine Sanford, Regis Toomey, Art Baker, Bill Goodwin, Jean Acker, Dave Willock, George Meader, Addison Richards, Matt Moore, Clarence Straight.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

With an unusual psychological mystery directed in the best Alfred Hitchcock manner to interest class audiences and the marquee draw of Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck to guarantee mass audience appeal, "Spellbound" will be one of the year's biggest box-office attractions. The picture's theme, which deals with mental illness and its treatment, and the fantastic dream sequence with surrealist sets designed by Salvador Dali, will be widely discussed and. even if much of the technical dialogue and the delving into the inner recesses of a disordered mind will be over the heads of many patrons, there is ample mystery and suspense, plus a believable romance, to compensate for the psychoanalytical sequences. The early portions of the film, which is based on "The House of Dr. Edwardes." by Francis Beeding, devote too much footage to scientific discussion and the treatment of crazed patients in a sanatorium for the mentally-deranged, but Hitchcock's great gift for building suspense is demonstrated in the story proper and in the tremendously thrilling climax. This scene, as the camera moves along with the two leading characters skiing down a 100-foot mountain slope is a masterpiece of excitement and the heroine's sudden realization of the murderer's identity is another superbly directed scene. While the science of psychoanalysis has been touched on lightly in such films as "Lady in the Dark," Hitchcock deserves great credit for this serious and adult treatment which achieves many powerful dramatic moments. Everything about this David O. Selznick production, from Ingrid Bergman's superb characterization in a most difficult role down to the weirdly-effective musical score by Miklos Rosza, is top-flight.

To a sanatorium for the mentally-deranged, comes Gregory Peck to take over as head of the faculty replacing Leo G. Carroll. One of the staff psychiatrists, Ingrid Bergman, falls in love with Peck and soon learns that he is actually an amnesia victim who is impersonating Dr. Edwardes, the real head of the institute. Peck, who believes he may have murdered Dr. Edwardes is suffering from a guilt complex and, after Carroll informs the police about the impersonation, he runs away. Miss Bergman, who is convinced that Peck is innocent, follows him and, while shielding him from the police, she tries to analyze his dreams and learn his true identity. Eventually, she brings him to the scene of Dr. Edwardes' murder and learns that he was innocent, although evidence points to his guilt. While Peck is held in prison, Miss Bergman cleverly follows certain clues which Anally reveal that Carroll killed Dr. Edwardes because he was to replace him as head of institute.

Miss Bergman, who is serene and completely convincing as the psychoanalyst who falls in love with her patient, again proves herself one of the screen's finest actresses. While Gregory Peck, who consistently under-plays the role of the tortured young doctor, does not match Miss Bergman's performance, he is capable enough. Michael Chekhov, as Miss Bergman's wise and sharp-tongued old teacher, provides many of the film's lighter moments, and Leo G. Carroll gives an outstanding performance as the quietly-sinister retiring head of the institute. John Emery. Bill Goodwin and Wallace Ford are excellent in smaller roles and Rhonda Fleming does a magnificent bit as a viciously-feline patient.