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Spellbound Reviews

An intriguing Hitchcock thriller which probes the dark recesses of a man's mind through psychoanalytic treatment and the love of a woman. Dr. Edwardes (Peck), a young psychiatrist, begins a new assignment as the director of a modern mental asylum. His behavior, however, is rather strange and eccentric, causing Dr. Peterson (Bergman), a brilliant but emotionally icy doctor, to grow suspicious. When she discovers that the doctor's real initials are J.B., she doubts that he is really Dr. Edwardes. She wonders not only what happened to Dr. Edwardes, but who J.B. really is, thereby involving herself professionally and emotionally as she falls in love with J.B. while digging into his past. Generated by David O. Selznick, who purchased the rights because of his keen interest in psychoanalysis, the film often gets bogged down in psychiatric and psychoanalytic jargon, but it is counterbalanced by the love story that develops between J.B. and Dr. Peterson. Depending on the viewer's preference, the breakthrough to J.B.'s mystery can be credited to one of two things: the success of modern psychiatry or the power of love. As Hitchcock describes it, the film is "a manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis." Although heavy on dialogue, it is not without some brilliant visual touches, most obviously the heralded dream sequence created by avant-garde artist Salvador Dali. In its original conception it was far longer and more complex than the two-minute sequence that finally appeared. It was to have run 22 minutes (much of which was actually shot but edited out) and included a disturbing sequence described by Hitchcock: "He [Dali] wanted a statue to crack like a shell falling apart, with ants crawling all over it, and underneath, there would be Ingrid Bergman, covered by ants! It just wasn't possible." As it happened, Hitchcock did not even shoot the dream sequence, returning instead to London. The brilliant visual stylist Josef von Sternberg was first considered as the director of the sequence, but William Cameron Menzies (THINGS TO COME) was finally chosen, though he later expressed dissatisfaction and asked that his name be removed from the credits.