Review of 'Spellbound'

spellbound.jpg Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) works as a psychologist at Green Manors mental hospital. The head of the hospital Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll) is retiring due to exhaustion. When his replacement Dr. Edwardes (Gregory Peck) arrives there is obvious chemistry between Constance and Edwardes. The two fall in love though it is obvious that “Dr. Edwardes” is an impostor and appears to be guilty of murder. Constance is determined to prove him innocent so when he escapes to New York before he is discovered, she follows him. They travel to Dr. Alex Brulov (Michael Chekhov) in Rochester, Constance's cynical teacher and mentor, an expert in psychoanalysis. Suffering from amnesia will they be able to figure out who “Dr Edwardes” really is and determine who committed the murder…?

A classic from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, that leaves the audience guessing right up until the last few minutes of the surprise ending. Though some of the aspects of psychology here are somewhat dated and the romance between the two main characters a bit over-done, the story does quickly move along and keep us entertained. The scene where we actually see the dreams of “Dr. Edwardes” was illustrated by surrealist Salvador Dalí which gives this classic film an edge of avente-garde (and looks great too). The film looks great with dynamic camera angles and innovative techniques that are trademark of the master. There are some elements that grate a modern audience such as occasional use of rear-projection that never entirely convinces but this can be overlooked in such an interesting story.

Bergman is wonderful as the distant Dr. Petersen who melts when she meets the mysterious “Dr. Edwardes” though I found it difficult to believe how quickly she is able to blindly believe in his innocence and the lengths she seems willing to go to so easily. On the other hand Peck only has to walk around a look confused and uncertain a lot, which he does very well, this film is all about Bergman's strong woman character (surprising considering the year the film was released).

Ignore the screen caption at the start of the film suggesting this a study of psychoanalysis – This is NOT a science film but rather an engaging mystery with not a little suspense served with a copious amount of romance.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2020-03-28

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Studio: Selznick International Pictures

Year: 1945

Length: 111 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Alfred Hitchcock: