The Cobweb (1955)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: John Paxton, John Paxton, William Gibson
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 21, 1992
Warner Home Video - Official Site


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 Rosemary

as Abe Irwin

as Regina Mitchell-Smyt...

as Edna Devanal

as Mrs. O'Brien

as Shirley

as Mr. Appleton

as Mrs. Jenkins

as Miss Gavney

as James Petlee

as Mr. Wictz

as Steven W. Holte
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Cobweb

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Critic Reviews for The Cobweb

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | December 3, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Strange, unique look at mental asylum is both visually and dramatically brilliant.

Full Review… | August 8, 2008
Classic Film and Television

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.

| March 11, 2008
Martha's Vineyard Times (Massachusetts)

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.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer


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.
The Movie Waffler

Super Reviewer

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