review for Spellbound on AllMovie

Spellbound (1945)
by Patrick Legare review

Behind a veil of psychoanalytic babble lies a simple tale of murder in Alfred Hitchcock's popular thriller Spellbound. During the WWII era in which the film was released, it was heralded for its intellectual use of Freudian theories to solve a murder. In retrospect, however, the film reveals psychoanalytic ideas that are simplistic and obsolete to the point of becoming comical. In spite of this, Hitchcock's tremendous ability to create suspense remains a timeless one and the film's thriller elements, combined with a series of outstanding visuals, bring Spellbound within a notch of the director's best works. The psychological elements allowed Hitchcock to be creative visually and he went to the best, hiring artist Salvador Dali to design a series of incredibly eerie dream sequences. Sadly, only a few of Dali's wonderful creations made the final cut while the others were either lost or destroyed. Hitchcock often spoke of one particularly fantastic sequence in which a statue cracked and fell apart, revealing star Ingrid Bergman beneath it. Gregory Peck is a strong male lead playing the protagonist with a confused and cloudy mind, but Bergman steals the show as his love-struck shrink, a woman described by one of her peers as "a human glacier." Spellbound was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Michael Chekhov), but went on to win for Miklos Rozsa's chilling score. Hitchcock's cameo arrives at the film's 38-minute mark, when the director can be seen exiting an elevator.