Not being overly familiar with the art of psychoanalysis I hesitate to say that she's downright wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Ingrid Bergman's Dr. Constance Peterson breaks a whole lot of rules while treating her patient/lover played by Gregory Peck. That said, psychology as a science hadn't existed for too long when Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Spellbound was released, so the outdated and simplistic theories of pop-psychology can be forgiven.
Ingrid Bergman plays Dr. Constance Peterson, an emotionally inexperienced and slightly cold psychologist working out of the Green Manors asylum. When the young and dashing Dr. Anthony Edwards (Peck) arrives Constance finds herself romantically drawn to him, but it soon becomes apparent that the new doctor has some issues of his own. Haunted by a serious guilt complex, Edwards suffers from violent episodes brought on by seemingly meaningless images and bouts of amnesia that cause him to pass out. Soon the question becomes: is he a cold-blooded killer or anguished victim? It's up to the newly awakened Dr. Peterson to unlock the memories and find out.
While the plot doesn't really stand up to other classic Hitchcock stories, the outstanding camera work and Salvador Dali design certainly do. Most viewers remember the classic Dali dream sequence (and rightly so), but Spellbound is full of great stylish Hitchcockian moments (superb internal framing shots with detailed composition, the traditional overhead boom shot, and plenty of Freudian visuals). One scene in particular that deserves a mention is the bromide-filled milk drinking scene where the camera peers out from the bottom of Gregory Peck's glass. Classic Hitchcock.
So while Spellbound might not be the master of suspense's best movie, the tension-filled atmosphere and aura mystery he creates makes this classic movie one worth seeing.
- Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
- Written by: Ben Hecht
- Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck
- Runtime: 111 mins