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Friday, June 13, 2014

Spellbound (1945)

When the new head administrator (Gregory Peck) of a mental institution arrives, he is attracted to one of the psychiatrists (Ingrid Bergman) on the staff. But it soon becomes clear to the psychiatrist that the new director of the asylum not only isn't who he claims to be but is as mentally and emotionally disturbed as the rest of the patients there. She begins to probe his mind. "Will he kiss me or kill me?" cried the original movie posters for SPELLBOUND. A mystery thriller set in the world of psychiatry must have tickled Alfred Hitchcock's fancy and I can imagine his glee at the possibilities but the film only partially delivers on that count. Its psychology is rather simplistic (if not dubious) but the film is rather witty both visually (when Bergman and Peck first kiss, a series of doors open) and verbally ("A woman in love is the lowest form of the intellect mind"). An important contributor is or was supposed to be Salvador Dali but a lot of his visual designs weren't filmed or ended on the cutting room floor, which is a pity because the film could have used more of his visual flair. Peck's awkwardness is effective though I'm not so sure if its the character's or Peck's. Ben Hecht did the screenplay based on THE HOUSE OF DR. EDWARDES by Francis Breeding (a pseudonym). The Oscar winning score is by Miklos Rozsa. With Rhonda Fleming, Leo G. Carroll, John Emery, Norman Lloyd, Wallace Ford, Regis Toomey, Jacqueline DeWit and Michael Chekhov in an Oscar nominated performance.

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