The Cobweb (1955)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
William Gibson's novel The Cobweb was brought to the screen by MGM with an impressive, hand-picked cast. Richard Widmark plays the head of a posh psychiatric clinic. Widmark's wife Gloria Grahame jockeys for the honor of selecting new drapes for the hospital's library. One wouldn't think that such a trivial decision would spark so much melodrama; but thanks to those drapes, we are allowed to probe the disturbed psyches of martinet business affairs director Lillian Gish, philandering doctor Charles Boyer, lonely activities director Lauren Bacall, and suicidal patient John Kerr. Oscar Levant, who spent most of his life in and out of "little white rooms", is ideally cast as a neurotic musician, while Fay Wray has a superb cameo as Boyer's long-suffering wife. Cobweb served as the screen debuts for both John Kerr and Susan Strasberg. … More
Watch it now
as Dr. Stewart McIver
as Meg Rinehart
as Dr. Douglas Devanel
as Karen McIver
as Victoria Inch
as Steven W. Holte
as Sue Brett
as Mr. Capp
as Dr. Otto Wolff
as Lois DeMuth
as Miss Cobb
as Mr. Holcomb
as Abe Irwin
as Regina Mitchell-Smyt...
as Edna Devanal
as Mrs. O'Brien
as Mr. Appleton
as Mrs. Jenkins
as Miss Gavney
as James Petlee
as Mr. Wictz
as Steven W. Holte
News & Interviews for The Cobweb
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for The Cobweb
Strange, unique look at mental asylum is both visually and dramatically brilliant.
With its usual twist, it's surprising that The Cobweb hasn't become a cult classic. This '50's studio picture combines the ever popular Hollywood topic of mental illness with interior decorating.
Audience Reviews for The Cobweb
It's all about the DRAPES!!!! Truly odd film is loaded with great actors and a ludicrous story. How it ever got the green light from the studio is mystery number one, that Vincente Minnelli said okay to directing it is the second although that would explain why so many great actors allowed themselves to be involved. Laughable take on mental health but good for one fun viewing as a camp catastrophe.
Minnelli managed to assemble an all star cast for such a strange concept. On paper it would seem like the plot of a screwball comedy but the movie is played completely straight, and is all the worse for it. You'll be screaming at the characters to lighten up. None of them are particularly likable, neither inmates or administrators. You would think someone with as much experience of clinics as Minnelli had, thanks to his estranged wife, would give us more of an insight.
The patients just aren't convincing enough and are reduced to big name extras. The administrative staff are given cliched storylines to follow. If there are any central characters it's Widmark and Grahame, a bickering married couple. Bacall is completely wasted in a throwaway role as a chain-smoking activities director. Levant is perfectly cast as an inmate but doesn't get enough screen time to exploit his melancholy persona.
Perhaps the movie would have fared better had it been made twenty years later. With it's sprawling cast it resembles the films of Altman but Minnelli couldn't call on the technology that allowed Altman his famous overlapping dialogue. Considering the subject matter the movie is far too sane. A seventies version would have allowed a lot more freedom to explore the issues.
At one point, young inmates Kerr and Strasberg leave the clinic for a night at the cinema. A metaphor perhaps for Minnelli's plunging himself into his work to escape the grim reality of life with Judy?
There have been some great movies set on psychiatric wards, "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest", "Shock Corridor", but I wouldn't bother booking yourself in for treatment here.
Discuss The Cobweb on our Movie forum!