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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 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SPELLBOUND BY DIGITAL GLITCHES!
"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...
Published on Dec 9 2003 by Nix Pix
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Classic,
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,
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 Innovative 2nd-tier Hitchcock,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreams of Morality Perversion and Exposed Evil,
This review is from: Spellbound (VHS Tape)
SPELLBOUND was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and produced by David O. Selznick in 1945. As the story unravels it is essentially a murder plot interwoven around psychiatrists and psychoanalysis. It is actually Alfred Hitchcock's approach to the story and his collaborations with composer Miklos Rozsa and surrealist artist Salvador Dali that highlights this film. Gregory Peck plays John "J.B." Ballantine who poses as a psychiatrist while in a state of amnesia. Uncovered by Dr. Constance Peterson played by Ingrid Bergman, Ballantine must find out if he is responsible for the death of the missing psychiatrist that he posed as and simultaneously discover his own identity. Miklos Rozsa's score is both romantic yet eerie as Ballantine tries to remember what happened through analysis of his dreams. Alfred Hitchcock hired Salvador Dali to design illustrations and paintings in order to construct a crisp and vivid rendering of these dreams. Hitchcock did not want to use conventional techniques such as blurred camera shots to recreate the dreams. He wanted them to be as clear and even sharper than the rest of the film. He wanted Dali's style of using shadows, lines of convergence and the idea of infinite distance incorporated into the dream sequences. In the dream sequence we see a black stage highlighted with people at gambling tables with huge mysterious looking eyes peering over them. A man cuts away at the fabric of one eye with a giant scissors revealing another eye. In another part of the dream we see a man standing on a roof behind a chimney that has sprouted roots. The hooded man holds what looks like a deformed or eccentric wagon wheel in his hand. In the distance there is a formation of rocks and boulders, which look like they are sprouting into the shape of a man's head. Another part of the dream shows a man running down a pitched geometric plane as the shadow of a bird follows him. In the background there are geometric shapes and lines that go off into infinity. All these images must be interpreted into experiences from reality. Dali's images are unsettling and thought provoking. Eventually, the eccentric wagon wheel turns out to represent the chambers of a revolver pistol and reveals the true identity of the murderer. A surrealistic painting brings to the canvas an image from reality but puts it into a context of the unreal. I think Dali was successful in translating the realistic elements from the plot into a vision of incomprehensibility of the conscious human mind. Hitchcock and the scriptwriter Ben Hecht then had their characters translate Dali's images back into plausible reality. This is brilliant filmmaking years ahead of its time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Psychological Thriller,
Green Manors mental hospital is about to change management. The previous director Dr. Murchison has been worn-out from his job and is being replaced by Dr. Edwards (Gregory Peck), a famous psychiatrist who is well published. At the arrival to Green Manor Dr. Edwards meets the attractive Dr. Petersen (Ingrid Bergman), who is a determined scientist that does not let anything in between her and her work. However, the arrival of Dr. Edwards changes things for her and she ends up falling in love with him. It appears that Dr. Edwards is not who is supposed to be. He appears to be a pretender who suffers from amnesia and paranoia. As he escapes from Green Manor the police are contacted and he becomes a suspect in the murder of the real Dr. Edwards. An affectionate and loving Dr. Petersen is determined, based on her intuition, that he is innocent, which she is determined to prove while attempting treat the stranger's condition. Spellbound is a highly suspenseful thriller that provides many opportunities for suspicion and uncertainty. This leaves the audience with a brilliant cinematic experience, which will keep them in apprehension until the end.
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone mentions the Salvador Dali sequence....,
....I'm not going to. It's been done to death and I'd rather talk about the film's atmospheric cinematography that is vintage Hitchcock. Perhaps more than any other film he directed this one captures the essence of discomfort and suspense so vital to the psychoanalysis theme of the film. Note the lingering low-angle on the shot of Gregory Peck's razor (and the way it is lit) or his psychotic stare at John Emery (shot through a drinking glass, for goodness sakes!), of course making us all fear he's going to be stabbed. Or the important climatic skiing scene which finally explains why Dr. Peck is so nervous around lines, tracks, and slopes. (It's a relatively short flashback that I won't reveal, but a disturbing, horrible sight just the same.) Finally, the scene with Leo Carroll, Ingrid Bergman, and a freakishly large, distorted gun is spellbindi...really impressive. Can you imagine the screams from the original 1945 audience when this gun came on-screen?!! The *two* frames (on video, anyway) of red which integrate with the gunshot is a stunning piece of subliminal cinematography. (BTW, is it just me, or do the gorgeous Ms. Bergman and future Hitchcock alum Grace Kelly bear a striking resemblance to each other?!!)
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbound is Unforgetable....DVD is Superb,
This review is from: Spellbound (DVD)
This review refers to the Anchor Bay release of the "Spellbound" DVD....
Anchor Bay has done it again. This 1945 classic directed by Alfred Hitchcock, was beautifully transfered onto this DVD. The black and white images are sharp, crisp, and clear. Barely a sign of this film's age. The sound remastered in Dolby Dig 2.0 is great. If you're a fan of this film, you'll be thrilled at how good it looks.
Haven't seen it yet, but love Hitch, or maybe it's been a while since you have?....Here's a little of this riveting story.....
The beautiful Ingrid Bergman plays the distant psychiatrist Dr. Constance Petersen. She treats a number of troubled patients at the Green Manors Mental Asylum, but her toughest case is yet to come. With Dr. Murchison(Leo G Carroll) being forced into retirement a new chief of staff will be arriving. It is the esteemed Dr Edwards(Gregory Peck)who takes over. It is not long before Edwards and Constance find themselves attracted to one another, and it is not long before Constance figures out that Edwards is not really who he says he is. He displays signs of paranoia and amnesia and it is possible that he murdered the real Dr. Edwards.They are on the run to try to solve the case but as the original theatrical poster says,"Will he Kiss me or Kill me?"(The DVD comes with a mini version of this poster).
You'll be awed Hitch's definitive style of camera angles, shadow and lights, romance and a unique dream sequence designed by Salavdor Dali. Not to mention all the wonderful talent that graces this film. Bergman and Peck make screen magic together, Carroll is a legend and this film shows us why.Also starring is Rhonda Flemming,Michael Chekhov, and Wallace Ford. The music by Miklos Rozsa also adds greatly to the building tension, and romantic scenes in the story.
Looking for Hitch: About :40 minutes in, you may see him if you're quick!
It never ceases to amaze me that we are lucky enough to be able to see these great classics as they were first seen and with the added treat of the origianl theatrical Overture.(I will be adding this one to my listmania of "Old Movies That Look Great on DVD") Now, if you are looking for special features, this DVD does not have any, there is another version by Criterion that offers more in the way of extras,although quite a bit more expensive.(Criterion also does great transfers)Which ever you choose, this a a must have for fans of Hitch, Bergman or Peck.
So don't worry about trying to over anaylze this one....As Hitch himself said "It's just a movie." But a GREAT one! So enjoy!......
5.0 out of 5 stars Ingrid and Gregory make a classy couple!,
This review is from: Spellbound (DVD)
Spellbound remains a wonderful, romantic, suspenseful mystery despite the passage of time. Both Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck have such class and make a seemingly unlikely yet compelling match. After all opposites attract, don't they? While Alfred Hitchcock would go on to make even better films this remains a solid effort with enchanting results. Listening to people complain about the "bare-bones" DVD from Anchor Bay is amusing. The picture and sound quality are dazzling. Maybe they should remember that most of us shelled out more for VHS copies of Hitchcock films that didn't look this good on the first viewing and it was all down hill from there. While I agree extras are wonderful to have, especially considering the capacity of DVD, also remember the price! I got mine on sale, delivered no less, and the old adage of you get what you pay for is still true. Now the good news! The Criterion Collection is going to release this film at the end of September 2002. It is going to contain quite a bit in the way of extras, but with a price-tag to match. Even heavily discounted it will be triple what I paid for the Anchor Bay edition. Either way you go, I still recommend all fans of Hitchcock to buy one of these DVD's (or both if you a major fan like me) and enjoy the show!
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF HITCHCOCK'S BEST by CRITERION,
For me, this is one the most entertaining films made by Hitchcock. It also represents a unique moment in Film History, where five unique minds joined forces to deliver a true masterpiece in the American Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock, David O. Selznick (producer), Ben Hecht (screenwriter), Miklos Rozsa (composer) and Salvador Dali. All of them masters on their own field.
The story revolves around a beautiful (but cold) psychiatrist (Bergman) who works in a mental asylum and her attempt to uncover the truth about a amnesiac impostor (Peck) with whom she happens to be in love with. As she goes deeper and deeper into her patient's mind she discovers that he may be unwantingly hiding the true identity of a murderer. Danger seems innevitable as the pacient is accused of being a dangerous murder - will she end up as his next victim?
Being a briliant piece of classic narrative, SPELBOUND is also a film where all the elements are first rate: Cinematography, Music, Screenplay, Costumes and Casting. The tension around the film is beautifully constructed and the climax is very potent.
Salvador Dali's dream scenes are beautifull and surreal. They give the most perfect setting for the enigmatic configuration of Gregory Peck's apparently irrational dreams. The freudian interpretations may be dated, but this is fiction (and Hitchcock makes it delightfully believable). Dali's vision is simply astounishing. Unfortunatelly the full original sequence was trimmed before its original release and that unsused footage is lost. But the remaining scenes are still impressive.
This CRITERION edition is highly superior to all other available editions for its superior image and sound quality. Is also comes with an impressive pack os extras such as lots of photos, essays, a great commentary. The Lux Theatre radio version is a interesting piece of curio. Also worth of noting is the fact that some frames at the end of the film (a gun shot)are in color - a great idea from a director who loved to experiment.
This is one of my favorite Hitchcock black and white films. A true gem. Congratulations to Criterion. This is a great job!
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