1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingrid Bergman In The First Of Her Classic Hitchcock Roles
The words "Directed by Alfred Hitchcock", in the opening credits always alerts me to the fact that I am possibly about to see something special up on the screen no matter what the genre. This legendary director put his stamp on a large number of classic films such as "Rebecca", "Notorious",and "Rear Window". With...
Published on July 5 2004 by Simon Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars A VINTAGE CLASSIC
Lovers of old movies will enjoy this one. Two top stars: Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. Equally appealing is the theme music by Miklos Rosza. Very interesting bous features on this DVD. The skiing scene holds suspense. In terms of knowledge today re: psychiatry and motivation, the story line has holes. However, the 'yesterday naivete' seems charming compared to...
Published 12 months ago by TQOTHC
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingrid Bergman In The First Of Her Classic Hitchcock Roles,
This review is from: Spellbound (VHS Tape)The words "Directed by Alfred Hitchcock", in the opening credits always alerts me to the fact that I am possibly about to see something special up on the screen no matter what the genre. This legendary director put his stamp on a large number of classic films such as "Rebecca", "Notorious",and "Rear Window". With "Spellbound", Hitchcock made cinematic history by beginning his successful collaboration with favourite leading lady Ingrid Bergman that also produced the classic "Notorious", co starring Cary Grant. Ingrid Bergman here has a most challenging vehicle as a dedicated psychiatrist who through psychoanalysis attempts to uncover the dark secret life of an amnesia victim that possibly involves murder. Bergman here shows what total emersion into a character can do for the conviction of a story and the results are most satisfying in what was to become one of her many fondly remembered roles by fans and critics alike.
The action begins at Green Manors Psychiatric Sanitarium where there is a change occuring in the head personnel with the "retirement", of facility head Dr Murchison (Leo G. Carroll), after a bout of illness. His replacement a Dr. Anthony Edwardes is due to arrive shortly and in the meantime we are introduced to young psychiatrist Dr. Constance Peterson, (Ingrid Bergman), an all business enthusiast of psychoanalysis totally dedicated to her job. When Dr. Edwardes arrives however all is not well and not only does he appear to be far too young for such an important role but he has a number of "spells", where his own mental health is called into question. Constance finds herself experiencing an immediate attraction to this strange young man who before long she realises is not actually Dr. Edwardes but an amnesia sufferer who harbours a severe guilt complex about something unexplained that occured in his past. When complications start to arise and "JB", as he now calls himself is accused of the murder of the real Dr. Edwardes he quickly leaves the sanitarium and hides out in a New York Hotel. Convinced of his innocence Constance follows him to New York and together they try via psychoanalysis to get to the root of JB's problems and find out actually who he is. Pursued now by the police who also are also searching out Constance as an accessory, JB and Constance then travel to see her old University mentor Dr. Alex Brulov (Michael Chekhov). Alex discovers the truth about JB's real condition and feels that he might have been capable of murder all along. Constance is firm in her belief of his innocence however and after travelling to a ski resort JB starts to recall his past and what happened to cause him to loose his memory. It seems his severe guilt complex was over the accidental death of his young brother for which he has always blamed himself. It is revealed that Dr. Edwardes actually died on the ski slope which caused JB to assume the blame for his death. With a clearer picture now JB and Constance work to trace the real murderer. The police however apprehend JB leaving it up to Constance to prove his innocence. The clues lead Constance back to the Green Manors where Dr. Murchison has resumed his former position. A slip of his tongue where he states to Constance that he thought the real Dr. Edwardes was a horrid man when earlier he stated he had never met him alerts Constance to who the real murderer is and in a fateful confrontation the real truth and its tragic consequences all come out. The bright aspect of this conclusion of the situation is that "JB", learns his real name, "John Ballantine", and is freed of any suspicion in Dr. Edwardes' death. He and Constance also can then plan a future together now that he is cured of his earlier amnesia.
Despite the dated medical practices that make up the core of the action in "Spellbound", the uniformily fine acting performances by the cast make this film a memorable viewing experience. Ingrid Bergman was in the middle of her extraordinary run of critical and box office success as possibly the freshest performer in Hollywood at this time and she had her choice of a dazzling array of leading men eager to work with her. Gregory Peck only teamed with her the once and despite his relative inexperience with film at this time, despite being nominated for an Oscar for "Keys of the Kingdom", he already shows the mettle that would make him one of Hollywood's most enduring leading men. A favourite character actor of mine, Leo G. Carroll long associated with pedantic, fussy men in his film roles had one of his best roles here as Dr. Murchison who features prominently in the unexpected thrilling finale to "Spellbound". He teams particulary well with Ingrid Bergman and their nail biting climatic scene at the film's conclusion has become a classic. Hitchcock used a number of quite innovative practices to make "Spellbound", a creative and for the times quite thought provoking work of cinema. Boasting an Oscar winning musical score by Miklos Rozsa, the film is also justly famous for the elaborate dream sequence designed by the legendary Salvador Dali. Originally much longer and surreal than as it appears on screen now, it was cut in length due to Studio pressure so as to not "alienate", the average audience. Its rich expressionist symbolism however creates a marvellous illustration in showing Gregory Peck's characters search for the truth about his past. Also the famous colour gun shot at the gripping conclusion in an otherwise black and white production helps create another not expected element in the story.
Viewed today "Spellbound", might not be considered the best work in Alfred Hitchcock's acclaimed body of work however it provides interesting asides into the then fashionable world of psychanalysis and its benefits to those suffering guilt complexes and associated memory losses. Despite its dated elements that are very obvious with the passage of time and advances in medical practices "Spellbound", I feel justly takes its place as one of David O. Selznick's more thoughtful productions from this time and is still best remembered as one of the jewels in the crown of Ingrid Bergman's career in the early 1940's. Enjoy
3.0 out of 5 stars A VINTAGE CLASSIC,
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SPELLBOUND BY DIGITAL GLITCHES!,
This review is from: Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)"Spellbound" is director, Alfred Hitchcock's first foray into psychoanalysis. Ingrid Bergman stars as Constance; a frigid psychoanalyst, whose own repression is tested when she falls for the new head of Green Manors - Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck). But Tony isn't all that he appears to be and its up to Constance to unravel the mystery behind his psychosis. Clever, fast moving and always, always suspenseful, "Spellbound" is a brain teaser with unhinging moments around every turn.
TRANSFER: Criterion isn't exactly living up to its namesake. The previously issued DVD from Anchor Bay was a touch on the soft side. But that was a blessing when compared to Criterion's overly harsh, digitally grainy print that also suffers from some minor edge enhancement and shimmering of fine details. Like the previously issued Anchor Bay disc, Criterion's "Spellbound" gray scale has been impeccibly rendered. But overall this disc really isn't up to Criterion's usual standards - a real shame, since this version of "Spellbound" remains the only comprehensive compendium of information gathered.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Criterion's Spellbound DVD,
This review is from: Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)The video quality of Criterion's DVD version of SPELLBOUND discs look a bit sharper, more detailed, but grainier than Anchor Bay's re-pressed version from 2000 (in which the flash-of-red color shot was restored). The audio quality of Criterion's 1.0 mono soundtrack is also a little more detailed and more distinct than Anchor Bay's 2.0 mono track. The Anchor Bay disc also sounds much louder, but there are audio distortions in a few places. The soundtrack of the Criterion disc (and many DVDs) was recorded at a much lower volume level, which is usually an effort to retain as much as possible the dynamic range of the source material. The Criterion DVD booklet says the film's original overture and exit music has been included on the disc for the first time. This is simply not true, for the re-pressed Anchor Bay disc also has the overture and exit music. The initial pressing of the Anchor Bay disc, in which the red-color shot is erroneously shown in B&W, does not have the overture and exit music, however.
Although SPELLBOUND helped solidify Hitchcock's position in Hollywood, it isn't one of his best films. But Marian Keane's remarkable analytical audio commentary on the Criterion disc should heighten your appreciation of the film. Keane juxtaposes the themes in the film against the manner in which Hitchcock made his films and the manner in which we, the viewers, watch them, and suggests that they are somehow interrated. She points out that many Hitchcock films (including SPELLBOUND) are about people who take pleasure in watching and analyzing other people, which is also the very thing that we, the viewers, do when we watch such films. As in her commentary for the NOTORIOUS DVD, she injects an extra layer of significance within the film by refering to certain elements in the film as "surrogate authors," "scriptwriting sessions," and "director's assertion of his authorship." Keane single-mindedly concentrates on the interpretation, deconstruction, and theorization on the subject of Hitchcock, and the result is one of the most remarkable dissertations ever recorded on DVD. I give 4 stars to the film itself, but 5 to Keane.
I give 5 stars to the supplements on the Criterion disc as well, like I routinely do. There is a wonderful, rather detailed photo-essay segment on the making of the Dali sequence. Two film clips of the surrealist film UN CHIEN ANDALOU is included ! to show some earlier inspirations for the SPELLBOUND dream sequence. Memos from the filmmakers and production photos show how the dream sequence was re-shot several times due to logistic difficulties and artistic differences. There are also production photos of the deleted "ballroom" sub-sequence, in which Ingrid Bergman plays a statuesque figure bewildering Gregory Peck.
Other extras include about 150 production and publicity photos, a half-hour audio interview of the film's composer, a 7-minute radio program on the subject of theramin, a 1-hour radioplay version of SPELLBOUND, "story treatments" that show how the original novel was loosely adapted into a filmmable story, and other correspondences from psychoanalysts and Production Code officials who offered advices to the filmmakers. The booklet contains two very good essays; one is about the making of the film, while the other offers some artistic analyses (some of which echo Keane's comments).
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbound,
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC,
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic,
This review is from: Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)What's remarkable about "Spellbound"--aside from wonderful performances by stars Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck--is that despite its foundation in psychology for plot, it never devolves into the dark, pretentious psychobabble of contemporary films. Instead, the framework of a brilliant man (Peck) suffering from amnesia that results from a murder he may have committed is just that--a framework for what is essentially a mystery-love story. And it works because of Alfred Hitchcock's dream-like direction and the chemistry of its eminently watchable stars. Less film noir and more expressionism, the film delights in a terrific atmosphere of the strange, including a brief but interesting animated sequence by Salvador Dali. Nonetheless, the main characters are always warm and sympathetic. Add Miklos Rosza's elegant score (which will remind some viewers of his work 30 years later on "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes") and the result is an often overlooked masterpiece from an era of great films.
4.0 out of 5 stars Compromised but engaging Hitchcock classic,
This review is from: Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)Although not up to the standard of Notorious, Hitchcock's Spellbound had a number of interesting elements. The film stars Gregory Peck as Dr. Edwardes the head of a new mental institution. He's immediately smitten with Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman in her first of three Hitchcock films)and she with him. There's just one problem; Dr. Edwardes isn't Dr. Edwardes at all but an imposter suffering from amnesia. Constance tries to use psychoanalysis to help uncover who her mysterious new love is and just what has happened to the real Dr. Edwardes. The faux Edwardes is suspected of murdering the real Dr. and suddenly their both trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together while on the run.
Spellbound was the second film that Hitchcock made directly under producer David O. Selznick (Foreign Correspondent, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Susicion, Saboteur and Shadow of a Doubt were all made while out on loan to other studios)and Hitch's vision was somewhat compromised by Selznick's interference. The budget was cut, a minute of the famous Dali dream sequence was hacked out along with about twenty minutes of Hitch's footgage were sacrificed as well. Despite all these set backs, Spellbound works due to Bergman and Peck's uneasy performance as "Edwardes". Peck was a second choice for the role; originally Hitchcock wanted Cary Grant for the role but Grant's salary demands and lack of committment to the project meant that the two weren't going to collaborate on this film. This was only Peck's third film but he pulls off the difficult role.
The Criterion transfer is sharper than the soft looking Anchor Bay edition. Personally, I prefer the crisper looking Criterion transfer but it's all a matter of preference. The extras here aren't as interesting as some of the other Criterion releases. Unfortunately, the cut footage from Spellbound no longer exists in any form so we're not able to see what might have been or have a faux director's cut assembled.
Despite the set backs that Hitch faced working on Spellbound, he manages to turn the script by Ben Hecht into an interesting suspense thriller. The last shot as the real murderer of Edwardes contemplates suicide is a bit of a jolt and an example of Hitch's unusual and creative approach to film direction even during his years working for Selznick.
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Out-of-Print Soon,
This review is from: Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)Criterion has announced on its website that this title will be going out-of-print on December 31, 2003 along with Rebecca and Notorious. In addition, the "Wrong Men & Notorious Women" Hitchcock collection will also no longer be available. I suggest you snatch these up as soon as you can as out-of-print titles quickly become expensive.
Another Criterion DVD that will be going out-of-print on December 31, 2003 is "Straw Dogs" starring Dustin Hoffman.
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative 2nd-tier Hitchcock,
This review is from: Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)Perhaps it's understandable that Hitchcock had reservations about this film-- "Notorious" is more truly dreamlike in its sheeny darkness and ruthless forward momentum. And the splendid aesthetic elements in "Spellbound", including Miklos Rozsa's unforgettable score, the famed Dali designs, and the George Barnes/Rex Wimpy cinematography, don't congeal into as splendidly gothic an artifice as "Rebecca". But "Spellbound" is still a terrifically entertaining, and subtly intelligent, film. That intelligence manifests itself best in the subversive ridicule that Hitchcock and Ben Hecht deal out to the chauvinist swine who Ingrid Bergman's Dr. Constance Peterson encounters casually and professionally-- including her harumphing mentor (played with defining neurotic zeal by Michael Chekhov) and even her ornery patient and lover (played by the young Gregory Peck). The opening sequences are the film's most delirious, culminating in Dr. Petersen's yielding to the compulsion to open "Dr. Edwardes"s door, an act which climaxes with the opening of several other doors-- here Hitchcock's use of pure cinema is more spectacularly surreal than anything on loan from Salvador Dali. While the rest of "Spellbound" may fall a little too clumpily into long scenes where pseudo-pop-Freudian psychology is used to decode Peck's predictably strange recollections, it is certainly a very watchable, and rewatchable film. Though not a masterpiece, "Spellbound" is a Hitchcock classic, an evocative and lasting triumph among his immortal series of romantic thrillers.
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Spellbound (The Criterion Collection) by Alfred Hitchcock (DVD - 2002)