Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945)


i saw Hitchcock’s ‘Spellbound’ last night. i remember seeing it as a teenager, and loving the Dali-designed dream sequence, which still stands up as a great, haunting sequence. the dated animation and practical sets seem to have an increased impact in these days of CGI and anything-is-possible film-making.

Ingrid Bergman is magnetically beautiful, as always, in her understated elegance and quietl allure. Gregory Peck is workman-like, not bad, though outshined by Bergman and the supporting cast, which is excellent; each character idiosyncratic, menacing, avuncular according to the demands of character.

the psychoanalytical stuff may be crude, even silly from our contemporary vantage-point, but the film is a wonder nonetheless. the script is pithy and full of life, and the unusual situation of having a leading lady who is more rational, accomplished, powerful, and active than the leading man (who swoons, sleeps, pouts, falls into trances) is progressive in any era. the sexism of the era may assail her in almost every scene, and her character may conform to the stereotype of ‘frigid career-woman who melts when the right man comes along’, but her dynamism defies this, and in the end the viewer is impressed by a woman driving the action, who bests the abject ‘villain’ at the end. his mea culpa is sealed with the famous single-frame of red at the movie’s climax….

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Posted in thriller, vintage

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