Ingrid thought because she is in love.

Ingrid thought because she is in love.

Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck star in this mystery/thriller that dabbles in psycho-analysis and the troubles of the mind. Constance Peterson is a renowned psycho-analyst, whose ability to analyze data is unquestionable, but who has no life outside of her work.

This all changes the day the new Chief of Staff, Dr. Edwardes (Peck) arrives. It is love at first site, and Constance’s barriers break down in a flash. Critics have noted that Alfred Hitchcock always had trouble with women. His films are known for having blond women portraying troubled, morally challenged women.

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This holds true in Spellbound, with Constance’s initial emotional frigidity, which later gives way to intellectual stupidity. In Spellbound, Hitchcock’s treatment of women is at an all time low. Constance is dismissed repeatedly throughout the film, as not being capable of clear, intellectual thought because she is in love. Before she falls in love, she is dismissed as a cold fish, incapable of feeling, and her femininity is challenged.

There is therefore no middle ground left. Despite the inherent sexism of the film, the story is captivating. We soon find out that Edwardes is not who he claims to be. He is in fact an imposter, who has no idea who he really is.

Suffering from amnesia, he is impersonating the real Edwardes, who is assumed to be dead. The intrigue is kept high, and we are never certain whether the man, called J.B. after initials found on a cigarette case he found on himself, is a killer or not. Constance, going against reason, decides to help him.

Despite evidence to the contrary she will not believe that a man she loves is capable of murder. Spellbound is a good mystery, with entertaining characters, which keeps you guessing until the end. What I found surprising in this film is that everyone in it is so refreshingly smart. Unlike in other mystery/suspenses, the audience never knows more than the characters, and we are kept on a level playing field. While far from Hitchcock’s best, Spellbound is much too overlooked.

The film has a dazzling dream sequence crafter by surrealist Salvador Dali, good story, but more importantly it shows greater insight into the man behind the camera, Hitchcock himself. ——————————————————————————–

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