Hitchock was at his prime in the 1950's, but he was no slacker in the 1940's either. With Rope, Notorious, Rebecca, Lifeboat, and Shadow of a Doubt, he continued to make great films year after year. Spellbound just wasn't one of them. The premise is classic Hitchcock. A psychiatrist gets caught up in the troubling case of a co-worker who is wanted for questioning about a murder. Throw in the fact that the two become romantically involved and you have your prototypical Hitchcock mystery suspense.
Much like most of Hitchcock's films, once you think you know what's going on, yet another plot twist unravels. So to its credit, Spellbound is unpredictable, and it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat at certain times. But it also drags out its plot for seemingly 15 minutes too long. It's hard for a mystery of his to be boring, but the case of John B (Peck) took a long time to get interesting.
I always find Gregory Peck compelling, but I think he was caught in between making his character a charming love interest and a dangerous psychopath. So he ends up falling somewhere in an awkward middle ground. However, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Chekhov were great together as two doctors trying to get to the bottom of the case. In fact, Chekhov elevates the film to a whole new level once he appears. Bergman brought the most out of a pretty thinly written character and cemented herself once again among the great Hitchcock performances.
Spellbound lacks the subtly of Hitchcock's later dramas, but there's still the same old intrigue and reveals that make his films so appealing. With a more evened out story and a smoother performance from Peck, this could have been a classic.
+Bergman and Chekhov
+Last hour is utterly unpredictable
-First act drags
-Peck is caught in acting hell
"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.