Spellbound (1945)

 
Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

No kids trying to spell in this, promise!
No kids trying to spell in this, promise!

Genre: Mystery Romance Thriller Drama

Starring: Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca; Notorious), Gregory Peck (The Paradine Case; The Omen)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers On A Train; The Trouble With Harry)

Overview: When a new doctor arrives at the mental institute, Constance is instantly attracted, however our good doctor may not quite be who he seems to be.

Performance:

Mother of God for the whole first half I wondered what on earth happened to Hitchcock and Hollywood both. Even Gregory Peck isn't free from the cloud of ridiculously overzealous ham. Ingrid Bergman is way-out there archetypically cold and all the patients are just straight out of textbook farces. The second half, when people have shattered out of the two dimensions forced upon them, it gets a little better. If Lynch did this I'd have said it was Avant-Garde genius, but after 30 films, I don't attribute that style to Hitchcock. Hence, it's ugly.
Rating: 6

Cinematography:

Salvador Dali designed the dream sequences that took place during this film, and yes indeed they are pretty cool. The climax has one hell of a great bit of camerawork like some tremendous Point Of View shots thanks to Hitchcock and big huge sets thanks to producer David O. Selznick. It's a beauty to watch, minus the occasional rear projection superimposed scenes that mesh poorly with the professional stunt doubles.
Rating: 8

Script:

The writer should have taken a course in "How to stop being disgustingly expository, saving you from convincing the audience that you find them to be absolute imbeciles". Honestly. Maybe I'm being too harsh, especially since this was one of the first films to actually go into psychoanalysis, but it's written in such a way that for every wonderful piece of wordsmithing and tension-inducing line of dialogue, we have one that's basically someone saying "did you get it? Do you understand? I need to know that you understand."
Rating: 7

Plot:

Issues galore. There's suspension of disbelief then there's psychoanalysis plots set in an Institute of Psychoanalysis, where there's psychoanalysis UPON psychoanalysists. I would have reduced the exponential degrees of mind-doctor themes just a little. I will admit however that though the beginning starts with too thick a premise and brings forth the clues a little too quickly, the end really is terrific.
Rating: 7

Mood:

What's strange about this is that the overall feeling I had about this film was a really good one. The end is fantastic, the Dali stuff is superb and for as much as the quality of the film itself seemed rushed, it drew me in regardless. You know I'd bet it's some subliminal impulse left by Selznick's crew of mind-tweakers, making me enjoy it without really knowing why. Well just as this film explains, what you psychoanalyse comes to light, and what a better way to do it that in a critique of the film itself. Ha, I win. Eat that Selznick.
Rating: 8

I Spy, with my... HOLY JESUS
I Spy, with my... HOLY JESUS

Overall Rating: 72% (Huh? What? Where Am I?)
Aftertaste:

That's right I dumped all over Gregory Peck AND Ingrid Bergman, what do you have to say about it? Fine go ahead. Comment all you like, that's what it's there for.

This film also starts with an Overture. I don't understand introductory overtures. In fact I don't understand them so much that I hope someone gives me some important facts about them. Dancer In The Dark did that too, but at least that was a musical. Somebody explain this to me.

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This is one of my all-time favorite Hitchocks. Yes, it is dated. But I don't think it deserves the panning you gave it. I also think that you're giving Selznick too much credit. This is a HITCHOCK picture! Yes, Selznick had a large influence on Hitchock - that doesn't mean that every good thing about the film can be attributed to Selznick. You'll see what happens when Selznick has too much control over the final product in The Paradine Case...

    Love the dream sequence, and I LOVE the corridor of opening doors during Constance and John's first kiss. Bergman was one of teh cinema's great movie stars and she owns this picture.


The flash of color when the gun goes off is a nice touch...so subtle yet so strong.

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