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Harrison's Reports (1945) - Spellbound




"Spellbound" with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck

(United Artists; no release date set; time, 110 min.)

Very Good! Blending psychoanalysis, psychiatry, murder-mystery, and appealing romance, David O. Selznick has fashioned a powerful drama for adults, endowing it with superb production values, and Alfred Hitchcock, in keeping with his reputation for building up thrilling situations that hold one in tense suspense, has applied his directorial skill in a masterful way. Although the picture's appeal may be directed more to class audiences than to the masses, since it employs psychiatry and psychoanalysis for the background, basis, and solution of the story, and since it resorts at times to much technical scientific dialogue, it will probably draw to the box-office also the masses, not only because of the stars' popularity, but also because it has been handled in a manner that enables the average person to understand fully the gist of the story even though the complexities of its Freudian theme may remain hazy.

Briefly, the story revolves around Gregory Peck, as an amnesia victim, who is suspected of murdering a famous psychiatrist, his doctor, whom he attempts to impersonate as head of an institution for the mentally unbalanced. Ingrid Bergman, as a woman psychiatrist on the staff of the institution, falls in love with him and, despite his belief that he may have committed the crime, since he had no recollection of his past, tries desperately to shield him from the police and to save him from punishment because, she was blindly-sure that he was innocent. Risking her life, because of the danger that Peck might become berserk momentarily, Ingrid probes his mind to learn the cause of his psychosis and amnesia and, through an analysis of one of his dreams, succeeds in establishing his identity, as well as past events in his life. Then, through applied psychoanalysis, she proves to him that he was innocent of the crime, thus restoring his sanity. Circumstantial evidence, however, points to Peck as the killer, and the police jail him for the crime. But Ingrid, undaunted, sets forth in pursuit of the real murderer and, in a final sequence that builds steadily to an absorbing climax, pins the guilt on Leo G. Carroll, former head of the institution, whom the murdered man was to replace.

The performances of the entire cast are superior, and throughout the action an overtone of suspense and terror, tinged with touches of deep human interest and appealing romance, is sustained. A weird dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali, the Spanish artist, the sets of which supposedly depict the dream life of Peck's disordered mind, is highly fantastic but most interesting.

Ben Hecht wrote the screen play from the novel, "The House of Dr. Edwardes." The cast includes John Emery, Steven Geray, Wallace Ford, Michael Chekhov and many others.