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Spellbound Reviews

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blkbomb
blkbomb

Super Reviewer

February 15, 2013
Dr. Alex Brulov: What is there for you to see? We both know that the mind of a woman in love is operating on the lowest level of the intellect!

"Will he Kiss me or Kill me?"

Spellbound is just another good thriller from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. This isn't one of his best movies by any means, it isn't Vertigo, Rear Window or Psycho. What it is, though, is a thoroughly interesting, engaging and suspenseful thriller.

A new director is arriving at a mental asylum where he will begin his new job, replacing a man that has been there for 20 years. When he does arrive, the rest of the staff is baffled by his young age. The man also is showing signs of mental distress and lack of knowledge about his job. Anymore knowledge on the film would just take away from it.

There's a lot of great art direction going on in Spellbound. There are some masterfully constructed and original scenes, the least of which, not being Salvador Dali's designed dream sequence.

This Hitchcock classic is a fun ride and features all the elements of a Hitchcock film that make them so great. Obviously this is one you should see.
paul o.
paul o.

Super Reviewer

August 31, 2012
The Dali dream sequence was genius! Ingrid Bergman as a cold psychiatrist was perfect as well as a confused Gregory Peck. A story that never fully reveals itself until the last minutes, Spellbound is a film that takes commitment but is a psychological classic.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2007
This was the first film to focus on the then revolutionary use of psychoanalysis. So, in regards to history, this is a fairly important film, but, when looked at today, it doesn't hold up as well. All of the psychology talk comes of as being more like psychobabble, things are dated, and the exism is notable. Of course, this was made in 1945, so it was slightly more excusable then, but it's no longer 1945, so it did get my attention a little more than it should have.

I'll excuse some of these issues though, since the story at hand is a decent one. We've got a maverick female doctor who begins treating an amnesiac who may or may not have committed murder and stolen someone's identity. Basically this is a typical Hitch murder mystery dressed up with Freudian analysis and symbolism.

But that's just fine when you've got some really good art direction, decent effects, and a sweet (and trippy) dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali. The dream sequence is definitely the highlight of the film, despite the fact that a lot of it was unfortunately cut and Dali was ultimately not happy about the end results. Still though, it's some memorable stuff.

Acting wise, we've got Gregory Peck as the male lead, and, he's good, but perhaps a bit wooden. Ingrid Bergman shines though as the female lead, and she's giving a wonderful performance here. And, keeping in line with typical Hitch, there's murder AND romance, so this film is stuffed with all sorts of things for all sorts of people. Plus, the score is nice too, if maybe somewhat schmaltzy.

All in all, a fine enough film, but kinda overrated. I'll be kind though and say it's near the top of Hitch's B-List.
Sophie B

Super Reviewer

December 26, 2011
A decent story but way too over the top with the 'psychoanalysis'. There are many things I liked about this film such as the plot line of the murder mystery and the chase, however there are also a lot of things I didn't like such as the portrayal of women and how it took itself way too seriously.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

November 13, 2011
Though the Salvador Dali dream sequence is the obvious highlight, the entire film feels like a dream. Beautiful black and white images and all the twists you would expect from the master director.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

May 3, 2011
Ingrid Bergman steals the show as Dr. Constance Peterson, Gregory Peck however, I found to be a little wooden. To be honest, all in all this isn't one of Hitchcock's best and it would have been a fairly forgettable film if it weren't for the amazing dream sequences by Salvador Dali, one of the best decisions Hitchcock ever made in my opinion. The 'Turning gun' last scene is also brilliant.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
Another fantastic Hitchcock film, it's a cool psychological thriller, and it's a bit surreal too, which makes it even cooler. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

July 26, 2010
"The secrets of who you are and what has made you run away from yourself - all these secrets are buried in your brain. But, you don't want to look at them."

Spellbound reminds me of Marnie in a lot of ways, which is not necessarily a good thing. Both movies deal with repressed memories, emotional trauma, and complicated relationships between the afflicted, and the person attempting to help them. Both movies also share an inability to keep my interest for the entire running time.

Unlike Marnie, the gender roles are reversed in Spellbound. Ingrid Bergman plays Dr. Constance Peterson, a psychoanalyst who ends up going on the run with an amnesiac (Gregory Peck) who may have killed a man and stolen his identity. And, she also happens to be in love with him. I watched Spellbound hoping for another brilliant Bergman performance, as she gave in Notorious. But here, she's trapped in a character that is dull and frumpy for most of the movie. I genuinely hope that those glasses that she wore were burned after Spellbound was completed, because anything that can make a beautiful woman look that ugly, needs to burn.

I just didn't find the first 2/3's of Spellbound to be very compelling. The sporadic (and not very successful) attempts at clever and light-hearted dialogue clashed with the tone of the movie, the plot moved in jerks and fits, and I couldn't bring myself to sympathize with Peck's character, or even care what ultimately happens to him.

The dream sequences were pretty cool and surreal, but we only get a disappointingly brief taste of them. Between this and Marnie, it's clear that psychoanalysis and Hitchcock do not make for a combination that I enjoy much. I will acknowledge that the final twenty minutes are a great improvement over the rest of the film, but that only raises my opinion somewhat. Spellbound avoids Marnie's level of mediocrity, but it's still a long way down from my favorite Hitchcock movies.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

July 20, 2010
I think remembering this movie for the Dali dream sequence is a total cheat, I will always remember it for the great story and unconventional romance. It's a lot darker themed than some of Hitchcock's other work at this time, especially with the razor blade scene. I think I like it mainly in that it doesn't try to hard to be the best, it's really humble and beautiful. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman have such an odd relationship in the movie and their chemistry is all the more strong because of it. The idea of someone thinking they're guilty but never knowing who they are is such a great concept, it takes the idea of fighting yourself quite literally. While there aren't any huge stunts, gimmicks or tricks, this is a great movie and more effective than some of the more popular titles by Hitchcock.
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

April 16, 2010
Ingrid Bergman stars as the career-oriented psychiatrist who falls for the new head-of-staff at "Green Manor". Or is he the new head-of-staff? Gregory Peck is so tall and handsome, she just can't believe he'd be guilty of any wrong-doing, and so she takes him under her wing and makes him her "personal case" (not that falling in love with him has anything to do with it). Hitchcock's typical surprise twist ending is pretty wacky this time, but alot of great performances and a dream sequence featuring the art of Salvadore Dali make this film a Hitchcock standout.
jjnxn
jjnxn

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2007
Minor Hitchcock film with superior cast and fantastic dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali. The psychological aspect is very dated, however as with all Hitchcock there are interesting things here but overall it's not one of his best.
MeetMeinMontauk
MeetMeinMontauk

Super Reviewer

May 24, 2009
Hated the antiquated psychology, sorry Hitch.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

March 19, 2007
Hitchcock's fascination with (arguably pop) psychology is brought to the fore as Ingrid Bergman tries to unlock Gregory Peck's repressed memories. It's basis in fact is a little dubious, but it works as a fascinating mystery, and there are some memorable visuals by Salvador Dali.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2006
The Dali dream sequence is great.
John B

Super Reviewer

April 1, 2014
Spoiler alert. The amnesiac remembers that he is me at the end of the film. Confused? You will have to watch excellent performances by Peck and Bergman to figure it out. A very good use of time in my opinion.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2014
"Following the footsteps of a rag doll dace, we are entranced, spellbound!" ...So, um, yeah, does anyone remember Siouxsie and the Banshees? I figured someone would, because this film is somehow substantially older, and it's only kind of remembered, although, in all fairness, this was a film by Alfred Hitchcock, whereas Siouxsie and the Banshees were part of the post-punk movement, which is deader than, well, Alfred Hitchcock. This film also gets some points for having Gregory Peck, because when Gregory Peck said something, oh baby, you better believe that it was worth remembering, and Ingrid Bergman was always a sight worth remembering. Seriously, Bergman was a little too good-looking for me to buy that they would allow her to work in a mental hospital full of potential rapists and murderers and whatnot, although this was the 1940s, and no matter how hard Hitchcock tried, he couldn't completely shut the doggone censorship up. Ironic how I said, "doggone" when referring to censorship, but hey, it fits, as this film is nothing if not ironic. Well, it's that and actually pretty darn good (Doggone censorship!), though nevertheless flawed.

The drama is refreshing in a number of ways, whether it be in its subject matter or in the way it interprets such subject matter, yet its uniqueness keeps alive for only so long before storytelling slips into tropes, all but installing glaring predictability through effective suspense, no matter how audacious the film is in its attempts at freshening things up. As irony would have it, a big problem with the film is that it isn't quite audacious enough, because as much as I joke about how Hollywood had to have hold back Alfred Hitchcock's full intense vision, there is something tamed-feeling about this approach to potentially biting subject matter which is done plenty of justice, but also watered down by Hollywoodisms. Of course, Hollywoodisms don't just water down the dramatics, as they also have a tendency to, if you will, bloat them, with histrionics that go reflected in fluffy dialogue and light characterization, neither of which are especially questionable, but shake the believability of this drama, and subtlety with it. Subtlety and grace to almost gracelessly gritty storytelling drive the final product as rewarding, and that makes those subtlety lapses, no matter how occasional, all the more distancing, and make no mistake, this film has plenty of time to make those subtlety lapses. At just shy of two hours, the film isn't sprawling, but it outstays its welcome, and gets there with material that is either excessive or even meandering, so much so that, before too long, it becomes kind of aimless, wandering along a meaty, but dragged out path that is further bumped up by the aforementioned Hollywoodisms, which, against subject matter this sensitive, can mean underwhelmingness. The story's natural shortcomings mostly derive from the Hollywood superficiality I touched upon earlier, but I can't help but feel as though the basic premise itself has limitations that, when stressed by consequential shortcomings, hold the final product back a little bit. However, the final product is not held so far back that it doesn't reward, being ultimately pretty, if you will, "binding", even aesthetically.

Improvably mixed, limited in bite, and formulaic, Miklós Rózsa's score isn't especially outstanding, or has at least gotten to not be through the ages, but its sheer recurrence, alone, is endearing, and when quantity is matched with quality, tonal and aesthetic value are flavored up quite a bit by visual style. Perhaps more effective is the drama's visual style, as once-frequent Alfred Hitchcock collaborator George Barnes delivers on cinematography that takes full advantage of a black-and-white color palette through subtle lighting and shadow plays that are not only subtly lovely, but encompass the polished bleakness of this smart, gritty subject matter. Really, the story concept deserves to be justified as much as it can be, even stylistically, as the substance through all of the Hollywood superficialities, while minimalist, has enough juice to it to make this an intriguing study on instability to mentality and humanity, sold by a thoughtful characterization to Angus MacPhail's and Ben Hecht's script that is itself sold by thoughtful performances. Relatively gutsy as a study on mental instability and how it's interpreted by patience and professionals in the psychiatrics field, this film has a decent bit of acting material, milked for all its worthy by the leads, with Ingrid Bergman having the charisma and subtle human depth to sell her Dr. Constance Petersen character as a respectable, but flawed woman of mental medicine, while Gregory Peck steals the show in his predictably charismatic and otherwise dramatically unpredictable portrayal of a man who gradually comes to terms with his insanity, but only enough to see how harshly it plagues his life. Conveying confusion, frustration, anxiety and, of course, cerebral instability, Peck captures his particularly compelling Anthony Edwardes role as best he can with dated, superficial material, and that's enough to drive the film, which is further driven by the other strong performances, both on the screen and off. Indeed, what ultimately secures the reward value of this thriller is Alfred Hitchcock's performance, for although his directorial efforts are held back by pesky Hollywoodisms, the nifty style and tasteful atmospheric storytelling that he graces this drama with was ahead of the time, and is still effective enough to prevent the slower spells from slowing down too much, while making the dramatic heights - of which there are many - fairly heavy. When the film bites, it sinks its teeth pretty deeply, and while it does so only so often, there's enough teeth to this drama to chew through all of the superficialities, both in concept and in the Hollywood execution, and keep you hung.

Once the spell is broken, the film falls so far under the weight of Hollywood conventions, limitations and histrionics, in addition to dragging, that underwhelmingness is almost hit, overpowered enough by tasteful scoring and cinematography, and strong performances, both on and off of the screen, behind an intriguing story concept to make Alfred Hitchcock's "Spellbound" a compelling dramatic meditation upon the exploration of the human mind and being by the unstable and the peers of the unstable.

3/5 - Good
Chris B

Super Reviewer

June 9, 2011
This isn't top-tier Hitchcock but that doesn't mean this isn't a solid film, even his lesser works are great films! "Spellbound" is a film, one of the first actually, to deal with psychoanalysis and put it on the silver screen. The film deals with a group of psychiatrists and the arrival of what they think is to be the new director of the asylum. In fact it turns out to be a man with amnesia who stumbles into the asylum and Dr. Constance Peterson (Played by the gorgeous Ingrid Bergman) who has to prove his innocence in the death of the real replacement director. The film is with filled with suspense and tension reaches a boiling point when the confused man is arrested for his murder. The film has a great ending twist in which some clever, albeit quite fake looking, props were used in order to portray a few down the barrel of a pistol aimed at Dr. Petersen and elsewhere. The film isn't with the likes of Rebecca, Rear Window, Psycho or Vertigo but nonetheless is a great watch and good way to spend your time.
lesleyanorton
lesleyanorton

Super Reviewer

August 24, 2010
Dated psycho-analysis-for-dummies thriller, but it IS Hitchcock and it DOES have Ingrid Bergman, AND a Salvador Dali dream sequence and best of all, a VERY handsome Gregory Peck.
Mike T

Super Reviewer

June 28, 2006
This isn't one of Hitchcock's best films, but it is still a finely made and very engaging thriller. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman are both excellent in the lead roles, and Salvador Dali's dream sequence is visually spectacular. Recommended to fans of the director or lead actors.
Sunil J

Super Reviewer

January 31, 2008
A little long considering that you know what's going on about half an hour in but still good.
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