starring: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Leo G Carroll
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
A female psychiatrist attempts to uncover the true history of a patient whose amnesia may be hiding a murderous streak…
Whilst Spellbound (1945) contains many of Hitchcock’s trade-marks, it is not one of his best films.
We have an innocent-man-on-the-run, a hopelessly romantic lead couple and a murder mystery to solve. Sounds like a recipe for a classic Hitchcock movie. Not so. The film is laden with inappropriate melodrama, misguided visuals and too many hokey references to psychoanalysis (which cannot be wholey put down to the film’s age).
Surprisingly, the director makes scant use of the setting in a psychiatric institute, instead he chooses to focus on Peck’s dream sequences which reveal certain aspects of the traumatic past he has forgotten. Indeed, much is often made of Salvador Dali’s dream sequences in this film, and although they are memorable, they seem tedious and over-done, adding relatively little to the movie’s plot. Taking them out would have added rather than removed the element of mystery. One could not however remove either Peck or Bergman, who carry this movie from start to finish. Hitchcock veteran (appearing in more of the director’s films than any other actor) Leo G Carroll does well too, as the quiet yet menacing retiring psychiatrist, Dr Murchison. Hitchcock’s films rarely rely exclusively on the performance of his actors, but this one does.
That’s not to say that the movie isn’t entertaining – it certainly is – and there are some cracking scenes between Peck and Bergman, who genuinely seem to have a degree of chemistry. The look in Bergman’s eyes when Peck hits rock-bottom is priceless.
Set against the director’s own-standards – the likes of Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rear Window (1954),Vertigo (1959) and Psycho (1960) – this movie is a let-down. On the other hand, it’s no “bomb”.
hotdog rating: 6/10