Spellbound (1945)

“I couldn’t feel this way towards a man who was bad.”

Spellbound Poster

Synopsis:
A psychoanalyst (Ingrid Bergman) falls in love with a disturbed amnesiac patient (Gregory Peck) posing as her boss.

Genres:

Review:
Hitchcock’s enormously popular psychological thriller — made to capitalize on what was then a new craze of Freudian psychoanalysis — unfortunately hasn’t aged very well. Despite the undeniable star power of Ingrid Bergman at her loveliest, and an appropriately “tortured” young Gregory Peck, Ben Hecht’s screenplay (based on the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes) is simply too silly to take seriously: Bergman’s level-headed “Dr. Constance Peterson” falls immediately in gaga love with her purported new “boss”, then quickly shifts into dual identity as both maternal caretaker and amateur sleuth once she realizes that the love of her life may actually be a psychically wounded amnesiac murderer. (Of course, she cares not one whit that her life may be in perpetual danger by remaining in such close proximity to Peck.) Meanwhile, Hecht’s screenplay is simply littered with laughably offensive anti-feminist throwaway lines: “We both know that the mind of a woman in love is operating on the lowest level of intellect” (!). I was relieved to read DVD Savant’s insightful critique of this critically lauded film, which he argues plays merely “as an amusing mess” — albeit one he admits to enjoying on a purely visual level. To that end, watch for Peck’s infamous, Dali-inspired “dream sequence” (which should actually be viewed on a big screen) — and be sure to listen for Miklos Rozsa’s highly influential, theremin-heavy score.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Peterson
    Spellbound Bergman
  • Several suspenseful sequences
    Spellbound Suspense
  • The Dali-inspired dream sequence
    Spellbound Dali Dream

Must See?
No, though hardcore film fanatics will be curious to check it out.

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “Spellbound (1945)”

  1. Not a must.

    The review here gets it exactly right. The Dali sequence (short tho it is) is innovative – try and catch it on YouTube, if possible. Otherwise, just skip this one.

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