Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alfred Hitchcock|
|Produced by||David O. Selznick|
|Screenplay by||Angus MacPhail|
|Based on||The House of Dr. Edwardes by|
Hilary Saint George Saunders
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
|Edited by||Hal C. Kern|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||US$6,387,000 (by 1947)|
Spellbound is a 1945 American film noir psychological mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of the new head of a mental asylum who turns out not to be what he claims. The film stars Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov and Leo G. Carroll. It is an adaptation by Angus MacPhail and Ben Hecht of the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes (1927) by Hilary Saint George Saunders and John Palmer.
Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychoanalyst at Green Manors, a therapeutic community mental hospital in Vermont. She is perceived by the other (male) doctors as detached and emotionless. The director of the hospital, Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll), is being forced into retirement, shortly after returning from an absence due to nervous exhaustion. His replacement is Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck), who turns out to be surprisingly young.
Petersen notices that this Edwardes has a peculiar phobia about sets of parallel lines against a white background. She also soon realizes, by comparing handwriting, that this man is not the real Edwardes, but an impostor. He confides to her that he has killed the real Edwardes and has taken his place. He suffers from amnesia and does not know who he is. Petersen believes he is innocent and that he is suffering from a guilt complex. He disappears overnight, leaving a note for her. At the same time, it becomes public knowledge that the supposed Edwardes is an impostor, and that the real Edwardes is missing and may have been murdered.
Petersen manages to track him down and starts to use her psychoanalytic training to break his amnesia and find out what really happened. Pursued by the police, Petersen and the impostor (calling himself John Brown) travel by train to Rochester, New York, where they stay with Dr. Alexander Brulov (Michael Chekhov), Petersen's former mentor.
The two doctors analyze a dream that Brown had. The dream sequence (designed by Salvador Dalí) is full of psychoanalytic symbols – eyes, curtains, scissors, playing cards (some of them blank), a man with no face, a man falling off a building, a man hiding behind a chimney and dropping a wheel, and being pursued by large wings. They deduce that Brown and Edwardes had been on a ski trip together (the lines in white being ski tracks), and that Edwardes had somehow died there. Petersen and Brown go to the Gabriel Valley ski resort (the wings provide a clue), to reenact the event.
Near the bottom of the hill, Brown suddenly recovers from his amnesia. He recalls that there is a precipice in front of them, over which Edwardes fell to his death. He stops them just in time. He also remembers a traumatic event from his childhood – he slid down a hand rail with his brother at the bottom, accidentally knocking him onto sharp-pointed railings, killing him. This incident had caused him to develop a guilt complex. He also remembers that his real name is John Ballantyne. All is understood now, and Ballantyne is about to be exonerated, when it is discovered that Edwardes had a bullet in his body. Ballantyne is convicted of murder and sent to prison.
A heartbroken Petersen returns to her position at the hospital, where Murchison is once again the director. Murchison lets slip that he had known Edwardes slightly and did not like him, contradicting his earlier statement that they had never met. Now suspicious, Petersen reconsiders her notes from the dream and realizes that the wheel was a revolver, and that the man hiding behind the chimney and dropping the wheel was Murchison, who shot Edwardes and then dropped the gun.
Petersen confronts Murchison. He confesses but says that he still has the gun and threatens to kill her. She walks away, the gun pointed at her, explaining that while the first murder was committed under the extenuating circumstances of Murchison's fragile mental state, her murder would certainly lead him to the electric chair. He allows her to leave then turns the gun on himself. Petersen is then reunited with Ballantyne. They leave on their honeymoon together from Grand Central Terminal, where they had begun their investigation of his psychosis.
Hitchcock's cameo appearance is a signature occurrence in almost all of his films. In Spellbound, he can be seen coming out of an elevator at the Empire State Hotel, carrying a violin case and smoking a cigarette, about 39:01 minutes into the film. The trailer for Spellbound's original theatrical release in America made a great deal of fuss over this cameo, showing the footage twice and even freeze-framing Hitchcock's brief appearance while a breathless narrator informs us that this ordinary-looking man is the film's director.
Spellbound was made over contract disagreements between Alfred Hitchcock and producer David O. Selznick. Hitchcock's contract with Selznick began in March 1939, but only resulted in three films, Spellbound, Rebecca (1940) and The Paradine Case (1947). (Notorious was sold to RKO in mid-production.) Selznick wanted Hitchcock to make a movie based upon Selznick's own positive experience with psychoanalysis. Selznick even brought in his therapist, May Romm, MD, who was credited in the film as a technical adviser. Dr. Romm and Hitchcock clashed frequently.
Further contention was caused by the hiring of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí to conceive certain scenes in the film's key dream sequence. However, the sequence conceived and designed by Dalí and Hitchcock, once translated to film, proved to be too lengthy and complicated for Selznick, so the vast majority of what had been filmed ultimately was edited out. Two minutes of the dream sequence appear in the final film, but according to Ingrid Bergman, the original had been twenty minutes long.
The cut footage apparently no longer exists, although some production stills have survived in the Selznick archives. Eventually, Selznick hired William Cameron Menzies, who had worked on Gone With the Wind, to oversee the set designs and direct the sequence. Hitchcock himself had very little to do with its actual filming.
Spellbound was shot in black and white, except for two frames of bright red at the conclusion, when Dr. Murchison's gun is fired into the camera. This detail was deleted in most 16mm and video formats but was restored for the film's DVD release and airings on Turner Classic Movies.
Selznick originally wanted Joseph Cotten, Dorothy McGuire, and Paul Lukas to play the roles ultimately portrayed by Peck, Bergman, and Chekhov, respectively.Greta Garbo was considered for the role of Dr. Constance Petersen. Hitchcock wanted Joseph Cotten to portray Dr. Murchison. Selznick also wanted Jennifer Jones to portray Dr. Petersen but Hitchcock objected.
Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck were both married to others at the time of production—Bergman to Petter Aron Lindström and Peck to Greta Kukkonen—but they had a brief affair during filming. Their secret relationship became public knowledge when Peck confessed to Brad Darrach of People in an interview in 1987, five years after Bergman's death: "All I can say is that I had a real love for her (Bergman), and I think that's where I ought to stop.... I was young. She was young. We were involved for weeks in close and intense work."
The film features an orchestral score by Miklós Rózsa that pioneered the use of the theremin, performed by Dr. Samuel Hoffmann. Selznick originally wanted Bernard Herrmann, but when Herrmann became unavailable, Rózsa was hired and eventually won the Oscar for his score. Although Rózsa considered Spellbound to contain some of his best work, he said "Alfred Hitchcock didn't like the music -- said it got in the way of his direction. I haven't seen him since." During the film's protracted post-production, considerable disagreement arose about the music, exacerbated by a lack of communication between producer, director, and composer. Rózsa had scored another film, The Lost Weekend, before Spellbound was released and had used the theremin in that score as well. This led to allegations that he had recycled music from Selznick's film in the Paramount production. Meanwhile, Selznick's assistant tampered with the Spellbound scoring by replacing some of Rózsa's material with earlier music by Franz Waxman and Roy Webb.
|Intrada Records album|
|1.||"Main Title; Foreword"||3:13|
|5.||"The Awakening; Love Scene; The Dressing Gown; The Imposter - Parts 1 & 2; The Cigarette Case"||16:49|
|7.||"The Empire Hotel"||1:22|
|8.||"The Burned Hand - Parts 1 & 2"||2:29|
|9.||"The Penn Station"||2:44|
|11.||"Honeymoon at Brulov's; The White Coverlet; The Razor - Parts 1 & 2; Constance Is Afraid"||10:03|
|12.||"Constance and Brulov - Parts 1 & 2"||4:15|
|13.||"Gambling Dream; Mad Proprietors Dream; Roof-Top Dreams"||2:37|
|14.||"Dream Interpretation - Parts 1 & 2; The Decision"||6:10|
|15.||"Train to Gabriel Valley"||1:23|
|16.||"Ski Run; Mountain Lodge"||5:51|
|21.||"End Title - Short"||0:24|
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that the story was "a rather obvious and often-told tale ... but the manner and quality of its telling is extraordinarily fine ... the firm texture of the narration, the flow of continuity and dialogue, the shock of the unexpected, the scope of image--all are happily here."Variety wrote that Bergman gave a "beautiful characterization" and that Peck "handles the suspense scenes with great skill and has one of his finest screen roles to date."Harrison's Reports wrote: "Very good! ... The performances of the entire cast are superior, and throughout the action an overtone of suspense and terror, tinged with touches of deep human interest and appealing romance, is sustained."John McCarten of The New Yorker wrote that "when the film stops trying to be esoteric and abandons arcane mumbling for good, rousing melodrama, it moves along in the manner to which Hitchcock has accustomed us ... Fortunately, the English expert hasn't forgotten any of his tricks. He still has a nice regard for supplementary characters, and he uses everything from train whistles to grand orchestral crescendos to maintain excitement at a shrill pitch ... All in all, you'd better see this one."
|Academy Awards||Best Picture||David O. Selznick||Nominated|
|Best Director||Alfred Hitchcock||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Michael Chekhov||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||George Barnes||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Miklós Rózsa||Won|
|Best Visual Effects||Jack Cosgrove||Nominated|
|NYFCC Award||Best Actress||Ingrid Bergman||Won|
|Venice Film Festival||Grand International Award||Alfred Hitchcock||Nominated|
The most notable release is the Criterion Collection release on DVD and Blu-ray. The original release is now out of print. The film was rereleased by MGM on DVD in 2008.