Superb psychological drama, and a movie that could only have been directed by one man, Alfred Hitchcock. Clever, tense plot that gives out information in a trickle, making it all the more intriguing and unpredictable. The psychological aspect seems well researched and accurate (though I'm no student of psychology), making it all the more realistic and convincing.
Great work by Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck in the lead roles. The chemistry between them is wonderful and Bergman is mesmerisingly, can't-take-your-eyes-off-the-screen beautiful. This was only Peck's fourth movie (though he already had an Oscar nomination behind his name, thanks to his second film, The Keys Of The Kingdom).
Adding to this is the work of Michael Chekhov who gives a fantastic performance as Dr. Brulov. Blunt, funny and the perfect complement to the seriousness of Bergman and Peck. Chekhov received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance.
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