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The Times (17/Mar/1946) - Mr. Hitchcock's new film: Spellbound

(c) The Times (17/Mar/1946)


Here is a film which sets about solving a murder problem from inside out rather than outside in, through the processes of the mind rather than the accumulation of clues.

The words psychiatry and psycho-analysis abound in the programme and a note to the effect that the dream sequences are arranged by Dali prepares the audience for a loose exposition of what has established its right to be called a science, but actually Spellbound shows itself seriously interested in the more dark and devious workings of the brain. The specialist will probably find-much to quarrel with, but the layman will be grateful to meet in a commercial film evidence of a desire to do something more than neatly to round off a murder story with a psychological trick. Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, to be sure, is usually ready with an imaginative camera to heighten the suspense implicit in the story of a man who is the victim of amnesia and imagines himself to be a murderer. He is fortunate in being loved by a woman psychiatrist determined enough to embroil herself with the police and risk her own life in her efforts to cure him, but even when the man-hunt is drawing exciting trails across the surface of the screen the deeper implications arc not forgotten, and the dream and its interpretation — an interpretation which convicts the real murderer — are ingeniously contrived. Miss Ingrid Bergman gets very little help from Mr. Gregory Peck, but she hardly needs it; her performance reflects the film's honourable compromise between emotion and intelligence. Mr. Hitchcock allows himself a moment or two of humour, and Mr. Michael Chekhov speaks up bravely against those who make too easy a joke of the name of Freud.

Spellbound goes to the Tivoli and London Pavilion cinemas on Sunday.