Did this guy ever screw up a film?
Today, we look back on a rare beast – a suspense film from the mid-forties that had no noir pretensions whatsoever. Spellbound (1945) is a Hitchcock vehicle which is the second Psychological thriller to have appeared on the list – the first was 1942’s Cat People.
The two films feel completely different, since the older movie is more about the shadowy workings of the mind, while Spellbound actually looks into both the methods and profession of psychology. Whether or not it’s an accurate portrayal of the state of the field in the 1940s is not something we’re qualified to discuss, but for the purposes of the movie, it worked well.
As usual with Hitchcock, the movie is well thought out and reasonably convoluted – and the ending is impossible to guess, despite the best efforts. Hitchcock was a master of foreshadowing enough that the partial reveal wasn’t a surprise to the more intelligent viewers, but that the whole picture would only really appear when the director himself felt the time was right.
That technique actually works much better in Spellbound than it did in the film that old Alfred himself said was his favorite. In fact, of the movies he directed that have been on the list so far, this is the best of his Hollywood movies (although there are still plenty more to come, so that might change over the coming months.
We won’t get into the plot of the film itself, as it’s well worth watching, but it’s interesting to see the kind of talent they put together for it. As leading couple, no less than Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. Then there was famous acting coach Michael Chekhov. The film even had the collaboration of Salvador Dali, who filmed the dream sequence, which was reputed to be completely insane, but, sadly, was cut by the production team and is now mostly lost (although Dali’s unmistakable flavor can still be seen in what remains).
Perhaps this film would give To Have and Have Not a run for the title of the old film with most still-recognizable names involved. All that talent created a good flick – go find a copy and enjoy it! It does somehow seem that most Hitchcocks fall into this category…