Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spellbound (1945)

Beefing on Hitchcock

A new director comes to a Vermont mental hospital, where he falls suddenly in love with Dr. Constance Petersen, a young psychoanalyst at the hospital. Before long, she comes to realise that he is not who he claims to be, but is in fact an amnesiac on the run from the law for a murder he does not remember. The two elude the authorities and head off to prove his hopeful innocence or unfortunate guilt with the help of Dr. Petersen's professor and mentor.

The thirty-first film by Alfred Hitchcock took a look into the subject of psychoanalysis, a topic which had recently intrigued producer David O. Selznick. Despite being under contract with Selznick for five years, this was only the second film the two worked on together, the first being 1940's Rebecca. Selznick and Hitchcock never quite got along all too well, both being very dominant personalities who preferred to have the most control over their work, so it was probably for the best that the two only made three films under their contract.

Despite the definite friction and personality clash, Spellbound still managed to come off as a very professional film, a solid work of art with very few noticeable flaws. The melding of two highly opinionated and creative minds became three with the addition of a sequence by famed artist Salvador Dali, which represented a dream state of course. The full length of this sequence ran about twenty minutes, but was cut down to two by Selznick... a situation I am certain Hitchcock could definitely relate to. While I agree that twenty minutes is far too long, I would love to see this entire segment, but it has apparently been lost or destroyed.

Ingrid Bergman is fantastic of course, and Gregory Peck is at the youngest I have ever seen, this being the fourth film in his career. The two had a brief affair during the making of the movie, but it never led to anything more. I can only guess it helped their on-screen chemistry, because they truly meshed, and her character's unfailing admiration and trust of this possible killer was as believable as could be.

In all, this is a wonderful motion picture. The melding of at least five big names in the world of theater and art in one place could have either failed miserably or been outstanding, and this movie most definitely did not fail.

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