A psychoanalyst puts her career on the line to protect an amnesia
patient accused of murder and help him recover his memory.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Ben Hecht
Starring Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov,
Leo G. Carroll
Based on the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes
by Hilary St. George Sanders and John Palmer
Oscar Wins - Best Original Score (Miklós Rózsa)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Chekhov), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects
The more opportunities I have to dig into Hitchcock, the more I appreciate his incomparable talents as a filmmaker and as a storyteller. His filmography is so dense, though, that the journey will likely never end. And of course, like any director, there will be speedbumps along the way. Take, for instance, Spellbound. The triple threat of Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, and Gregory Peck should be pure gold. But this film is so melodramatic and inconsistent, that I often times found it hard to stay involved. The film is also notoriously hard to find, so I guess anticipation was a factor as well.
Bergman plays the by-the-book psychoanalyst Dr. Constance Petersen, who is known at her hospital for being very analytical about everything in her life. When she meets the new head doctor, Dr. Edwardes (Peck), it's love at first sight. An immovable and confusing love that persists even when she learns he's not really Dr. Edwardes and might've killed him. This guy is an amnesia patient who took Dr. Edwardes's identity, and Constance puts her career and life on the line to help him find who he is. The journey there is fairly boring, regrettably, and neither Bergman or Peck is doing their best work. The character of Dr. Brulov (Chekhov) is an irritating, misogynist bastard who is constantly belittling Constance for being a woman doctor. I guess in 1945 he was supposed to be adorable.
Spellbound is one of Hitchcock's lesser works that doesn't quite hold up, but I don't blame him. The direction is impeccable. The fault here lies with a nonsensical story that paints female doctors as swooning lovers in waiting who will drop whatever matters to them if someone as handsome as Gregory Peck shows up and winks. Frankly, I don't think that's a good message. Maybe we leave this one in 1945.