on June 13, 2004
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.
on June 25, 2003
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.
on April 17, 2003
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.
on March 23, 2003
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.
on December 6, 2002
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!......
on September 1, 2002
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!
on August 30, 2002
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!
on July 31, 2002
I had a nice review all written out for this movie. Now I can't find it to type it up. So I'll just start all over again. This is a nice, romantic, suspenseful movie with two very charming people in the lead, that is, Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck... as well as some humourous minor characters such as Dr Brulov, the bug-eyed man at the train station, and the house detective at the Empire State Hotel. Dr Murchison is sufficiently villainous. I never suspected him for a minute until the end. Now no matter where I see him in various movies, I always say, "There's Dr Murchison!" He'll never be anyone else to my mind.
I think Dr Constance Peterson's devotion to her beloved patient is quite touching, regardless of the fact that in reality psychiatrists aren't supposed to run off with patients, whatever the reason. Ingrid is chilly at first but as she melts down she is quite convincing. John may be a bit spacey at times, but he's amnesiac - what else can you expect? I think he's a pretty nice guy with and without memory, and both he and Ingrid wear some pretty nice outfits throughout.
The two policemen who are waiting in Dr Brulov's parlour amuse me as well, because even in 1945, mothers seemed to be a Hitchcock motif. The one policeman talks about how his mother needs to move to Florida. I don't remember any appearances of birds, but that doesn't mean there weren't any.
Other favourite moments... When Constance and John are at Dr Brulov's house and John gets up in the middle of the night and turns on the bathroom light, the montage of all the white things was so well done. It makes you feel like if you keep seeing white, you're going to go crazy, and you're glad when John runs out of the bathroom. I also like the dinner scene when Constance makes the lines with her fork. When they are on the train and he is obsessively watching her cut her meat, I wondered if maybe he really was a lunatic after all and guilty of the murder. Also I liked the skiing scene... even though the background was so obviously fake.
This is my favourite Hitchcock movie. Not one that I watch every day, or even every month, but very moving every time I do see it.
This movie is a product of that golden age of incredible plots, talented actors, and visionary directing. A description of the plot may sound somewhat banal, and I doubt if the same movie could be made today and be taken seriously, but this classic is a masterful piece of cinema. When Dr. Edwards (Gregory Peck) arrives at Green Manors Mental Asylum to replace the head man, he quickly falls for the heretofore distant, hyperanalytical Dr. Constance Petersen (played by the incomparable Ingrid Bergman). Constance soon discovers that the man she is falling in love with is not Dr. Edwards at all but is instead an amnesiac who has taken the place of the real Dr. Edwards. Although the impostor is afraid he killed the real doctor, Constance is determined to help him regain his memory. The mystery of Dr. Edward's disappearance quickly leads to a police investigation, but Constance follows her "patient" to the city and eventually takes him to the home of her mentor, striving to prove that the man she loves is not a murderer. The ending, I must say, does not disappoint; it actually exceeded my own expectations.
Bergman is naturally wonderful in her role, and her accent adds a trace of mystery to an already suspenseful story. The portrayal of Dr. Murchison, the previous head of the asylum, is smooth, polished, and quite effective, and the actor portraying Constance's former mentor does a masterful job as a somewhat stereotypical pseudo-Freud blessed with a penchant for making remarks I found quite humorous. While Gregory Peck is also very good, he seems to go a little over the top at times when he is reacting to troubling stimuli. Hitchcock's direction is both innovative and masterful. There are several scenes involving unusual camera shots that add much to the atmosphere of mounting suspense, and a dream sequence supposedly designed by Salvador Dali is unique and oddly compelling.
Certainly, Freudian analysis was more in vogue when this movie was made in 1955 than it is now. It is Constance's belief that something from the impostor's childhood triggered his amnesia, and she seeks to help him by unlocking his buried memories. A crucial plot point centers around a surreal dream the impostor has and Constance's interpretation of its meaning. While some modern viewers may scoff at the notions espoused here, such feelings should take nothing away from the enjoyment of this classic, atmospheric, suspenseful drama.
on October 14, 2001
Sumptuously photographed in exquisite black and white, this is one of Hitchcock's most underrated masterpieces. In Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, the film boasts two of the cinema's most photogenic stars and the pair's screen partnership is as memorable as it is convincing.
Visually it's such a treat that many scenes linger in the mind: the spectacular dream sequence (designed by Salvador Dali), the mysterious lines that haunt Gregory Peck (accompanied by an appropriately weird motif from the film's composer, Miklos Rosza), and my own favourite: the first kiss between Peck and Bergman. For the latter, Hitchcock cleverly (and seductively?) lets us see Peck from Bergman's perspective, as he advances towards the camera in enormous close-up.
The script is delightful: a typically Hitchcockian mix of the improbable, the suspenseful and the romantic. There is also a campy touch, particularly in the Freud-like role portrayed by Michael Chekhov, who tells Ingrid Bergman: "Any husband of yours is a husband of mine, so to speak."
The acting is superb, the suspense masterful, and viewers will find it impossible not to be drawn into this highly original story. Throw in the memorable Spellbound Concerto theme, with its swirling melody and haunting romanticism, and you have a true classic.