02 June 2009

Hitchcock | Spellbound (1945)

Spellbound (1945)
written by Ben Hecht, Angus MacPhail and an uncredited May E. Romm, based on a n0vel by Hilary St. George Sanders and John Palmer

Hitchcock describes this film as "just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis." That's pretty much it. It's sort of Young and Innocent, except with a less-chipper protagonist who requires his psychoanalyst girlfriend to prove his innocence.

For a film whose premise revolves around psychoanalysis, features dream interpretation and has a dream created by Salvador DalĂ­, it's surprisingly straight-forward. I suppose the movie dipped its toe into the pool of surrealism about as much as could be expected considering its studio and star. Although the dream sequence is great -- and I can see its influence all the way into 1990's Twin Peaks -- the interpretation of the dream feels disappointing. The wheel is the revolver, the angel refers to a ski lodge named after Gabriel, the bearded man is Edwardes... it's all rather "peg A into slot B." I guess this is about all you could do with this film in order to have it make sense to the audience.

I'm not sure I'm much of a fan of Gregory Peck's performance in this film. When he goes into his fugue state, he wears this wide-eyed look that screams "I'm trying my best to look disturbed!" It doesn't work for me. I don't know if I bought into his performance at all. His instant transformations into anger while Connies analyzed him came off kind of goofy. Or, maybe I just don't buy into psychoanalysis?

Other than minor complaints, it's solid Hitchcock effort with the psychoanalysis angle giving the old wrong man story a fresh spin. (7/10)

Watched the region 1 DVD released by Fox in 2008 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection. The transfer's great and it has a set of good documentaries.