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USA 1945
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
111 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Spellbound (1945)

The first of Hitchcock’s post-war films, Spellbound is a psychological thriller scripted with a heavy hand by Ben Hecht. It’s not just the pop Freudianism that is laboured beyond belief but also the de rigeur romance between the delusional amnesiac (a tiresomely earnest, Gregory Peck, who was under contract to producer David O. Selznick at the time) and Ingrid Bergman as a spinsterish psychiatrist trying to get his measure.

Despite the A-grade production ingredients, the result is more like a soap opera, and a drab one at that, than anything that merits serious attention with Hitchcock himself seemingly little interested in the project (the zoom into the love-struck Ingrid Bergman when she sighs “liverwurst” in reply to Peck’s choice of sandwich must be the director’s joke). 

There is a plot twist in the latter stages which briefly introduces some interest into the narrative and a few distinctively Hitchcockian touches like the pistol that turns towards the camera (and which blazed red in the original theatrical release) but the main reason for the film’s standing is its dream sequence by Salvador Dali although apparently only a small amount of the filmed footage of this was actually used.

Spellbound was a huge commercial hit in its day and the first of rash of Hollywood films in which psychoanalysis was a major theme, something for which we have little reason to be grateful.




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