The head of the Green Manors mental asylum Dr. Murchison is retiring to be replaced by Dr. Edwardes, a famous psychiatrist. Edwardes arrives and is immediately attracted to the beautiful but cold Dr. Constance Petersen. However, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Edwardes is in fact a paranoid amnesiac impostor. He goes on the run with Constance who tries to help his condition and solve the mystery of what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes.
Ingrid Bergman ... Dr. Constance Petersen
Gregory Peck ... John Ballantine aka Dr. Anthony Edwardes
Michael Chekhov ... Dr. Alexander 'Alex' Brulov
Leo G. Carroll ... Dr. Murchison
Rhonda Fleming ... Mary Carmichael
John Emery ... Dr. Fleurot
Norman Lloyd ... Mr. Garmes
Bill Goodwin ... House detective
Steven Geray ... Dr. Graff
Donald Curtis ... Harry
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Nominated for 6 Oscars, won 1 Oscar for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)
Codecs: OpenDivX 4 / MP3
"Spellbound" is one of Hitchcock's hardest films to evaluate, because its plot and credibility are so heavily dependent on theories of psychoanalysis that are usually considered to be implausible, at the very best. But if you can accept, for the sake of entertainment, the more dubious plot devices, what remains is a fine film dominated by the great director's usual creativity and technical mastery. Although it's hard to get away from the implausibilities, it's a fine movie in all other respects.
Gregory Peck stars as an amnesia case, and Ingrid Bergman as a psychoanalyst trying to unravel his mysterious - and possibly murderous - past. Most of the other characters are also psychoanalysts or patients, and the plot revolves around the ways that Bergman's character uses Freudian theories to solve the mystery. Whether you can enjoy the story depends on how willing you are to suspend disbelief concerning the wilder aspects of these theories, but if you are willing to do so, it's quite nicely done in most parts, with some fine scenes and a couple of good plot twists. It is also worth watching for the famous Salvador Dali dream sequence, which is very creatively done and fascinating to watch. Peck and Bergman also create interesting and sympathetic characters, who make the viewer want to know what will happen to them.
Overall, this is a distinctive film, and well worth seeing for any Hitchcock fan.
Psychiatry isn't as simple as Spellbound would have you believe, the reasons for one's neuroses sure can't get cured with two or three sessions with Ingrid Bergman. But certain events can definitely be explained and it all seems quite reasonable when the explanations come from Alfred Hitchcock.
Spellbound gave both Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman their first Hitchcock films and their only film together. Peck arrives at a sanitarium to take the place of director Leo G. Carroll. But after a short time, the other psychiatrists realize that he's not all he seems.
In fact he's not a psychiatrist at all, but in fact a mental patient who has stolen the doctor's identity. The doctor has disappeared and in all likelihood been murdered. Peck flees the sanitarium, but Ingrid doesn't believe he's guilty of anything and she pursues and finds him and together they try to unravel what's locked up in his mind.
Back when I was in college I took an introductory psychology course to fill up my electives and Spellbound got to mean something to me then. I had a professor who I wasn't quite sure didn't belong in an asylum run by Leo G. Carroll. It was a running joke in the class that we were all in the midst of a Spellbound like drama that this man had killed the real professor and that at any time the men with the nets were going to drag our teacher away.
Episodes in Peck's life from childhood and the war and the trauma of seeing what happened to the real doctor have made him an amnesia case out of Peck. It's up to Ingrid to unravel it all by trying to interpret some recurring dreams.
The dream sequences involve some sets courtesy of Salvador Dali and it's the main reason that Spellbound is remembered today as opposed to being just another of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces. For fans of the great painter this film is a must.
Spellbound got a whole slew of nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and several more in technical categories. Spellbound and Alfred Hitchcock came up short against The Lost Weekend and Billy Wilder. Michael Chekov got a Best Supporting Actor nomination but lost to James Dunn for A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Chekov plays Ingrid Bergman's mentor and he's right out of central casting as a Viennese Freudian psychiatrist.
Spellbound took home one award for Miklos Rosza's score and it will linger with you a long time after you've seen Spellbound.
Rhonda Fleming got her first critical notice as a homicidal mental patient, it's a brief but telling role. John Emery who is probably best known for being Tallulah Bankhead's husband plays a wolfish analyst on the make for Ingrid Bergman and plays it well.
When Bergman finally unravels it all, her final confrontation scene with the villain is one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. Talk about coolness under fire.
Though simplistic in its treatment of psychiatry, Spellbound will leave you just that when you see it.
* Although the film is in black and white, two frames where the gun shot goes off while pointed at the camera are tinted red.
* Director Cameo: [Alfred Hitchcock] about 40 minutes in, coming out of the elevator at the Empire Hotel carrying a violin case and smoking a cigarette.
* One of the first Hollywood films to deal with psychoanalysis.
* The dream sequence was designed by Salvador Dalí, and was originally supposed to run slightly longer. It included a scene in a ballroom with hanging pianos and still figures pretending to dance, folled with J.B. dancing with Dr. Peterson who turns into a statue. It was cut from the final film due to lack of time to appropriately build the set to scale (little people were used in the background to give the illusion of perception, which did not satisfy Alfred Hitchcock or Dali). Only part of it was filmed, and even less of it ended up in the release version.
* The shot where the audience sees the killer's view down a gun barrel pointing at Peterson was filmed using a giant hand holding a giant gun to get the perspective correct.
* The snow falling on John Ballentine and Dr. Peterson during the skiing scene was actually cornflakes.
* David O. Selznick wanted much of the film to be based on his experiences in psychotherapy. He even brought his psychotherapist in on the set to be a technical advisor. Once when she disputed a point of fact with Alfred Hitchcock on how therapy works, Hitchcock said, "My dear, it's only a movie."
* Alfred Hitchcock persuaded David O. Selznick to buy the rights to the novel for $40,000.
* Originally released with an overture before the opening credits, and exit music after the end title.
* 'Miklós Rózsa' 's score in this film inspired the career of film composer Jerry Goldsmith.
* The first preview took place on 27 September 1944, after which David O. Selznick deleted an opening montage showing treatment of mental cases. After principal photography was completed, Selznick was involved with sound re-recording of the dialogue and the editing, eliminating about 14 minutes of the film.
* Early versions of the script used the words "sex menace", "frustrations", "libido" and "tomcat" in scenes involving the character of Mary Carmichael. These were eliminated when PCA director Joseph Breen strongly objected.
* 'Miklós Rózsa' hated working with David O. Selznick.
* David O. Selznick wanted 'Miklós Rózsa' to swell the orchestra from 14 violins to 28 as he had liked the effect that that had brought when Franz Waxman did it whilst scoring Rebecca (1940).
* Alfred Hitchcock himself referred to the film as "? just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis".
* The dream sequence was produced by poverty-row film-makers, Monogram Studios. Their first efforts kept getting rejected by Selznick until he hired leading production designer William Cameron Menzies to oversee the production. Hitchcock himself was barely involved.
* Hitchcock was a huge admirer of Salvador Dalí's work and realized no-one understood dream imagery better. David O. Selznick was opposed to using Dalí from an expense point of view, until he realized the marketing mileage that could be gained from such a hiring.
* Writer 'Ben Hecht' consulted many of the leading psychoanalysts of the day when he was penning the screenplay.
* After Alfred Hitchcock had suggested "Hidden Impulse" as a title, studio secretary Ruth Rickman came up with the title "Spellbound", which tested well in a pre-release survey.