Tuesday, August 20, 2013

185 of 1001 Movies: Spellbound (1945)

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the biggest name directors there is, but it seems people associate him more with his horrors works in the 60's than they do with his work prior to then which was more up the thriller and suspense ally. Spellbound has a lot of great Hitchcock techniques though, which include lots of sharp shadows cast on people, the use of blades to build the suspense of danger, and innovative techniques to keep the film looking a bit beyond the times. The acting is also quite strong with leads Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. The only thing is when the story feels over it goes on for way over.

Summary: Dr. Constance Peterson is about to get her strangest patient yet. She works at a psychiatric hospital, so she sees lots of strange things. Including a man who is weaving through the guilt of a father he can't remember killing and a woman who has a deadly seductive nature. A man shows up as the famous Anthony Edwards though to take over a position there, but when it's revealed he isn't really Dr. Edwards he goes on the run. Constance follows him not only because she wants to help him solve why he can't remember murdering Dr. Edwards, but also because she has fallen in love with him.

Acting: Ingrid Bergman is Dr. Constance Peterson, and shows why she ranks among the top of actresses from the 40's. She has a lot of class in the way she carries the doctor, and she also is one of the few from the time who doesn't over act her scenes. Even when the scenes look a tad ridiculous in the way they are shot she salvages it with her acting. Gregory Peck is the accused murder of Dr. Edwards, John Ballantyne. Peck was a great actor in this, and I liked the subtle changes he was able to make just in his expressions to leave us in suspense about whether he would fall on the good or bad sad of the law when Constance trusts him enough to set out with him alone to help him solve the case.

Filming: There are lots of scenes that I hadn't seen be use before in films that were used in this movie, and I thought it was very innovative for the time with how how they combined certain scenes to make one. Like when the psychologists are trying to get John to remember back through his memory to recall the point that led to him being present when Dr. Edwards dies. It shows him some very odd scenarios but it combines the dream aspect of his mind that has skewed his memory well with the reality of what happened. We see him running down pyramid like mountains chased by a shadow bird and sitting behind curtains that look like yes. It's great use of props and other elements to be very catching and well done. There are also other scenes that show what it looks likes dead on from the person's perspective so we see into the barrel of a gun and through a glass of milk in some of the most intense moments of the movie.

Plot:  The plot does become a little dull to me because the movie seems to be moving very slowly intentionally because it knows we could figure these things out a lot sooner. The romance to me between Constance and John just didn't seem very vital either. When you weren't having the slower parts though there were other aspects where the movie moved so well during scenes that left you in suspense you had no idea how much time had passed. I like how we don't waste too much time at the beginning getting around to what the plot is either. Peck has this ability to change John from being an attractive, charming man to one who looks like he borders on being a psycho path quite easily. I'm sure someone who knows more about the world of psychology though will find a lot of obvious plot holes, and there are some things that even I was left in question over. Like why is John still capable of caring around a shaving razor in the middle of the night and looking dangerous if he might not be? Even if it turns out he didn't kill someone that still is enough to be weary about.

The acting and directing make Spellbound a classic despite a weaker plot that has some very stretched parts and parts that don't fulfill you in story. The creative techniques show that Hitchcock tried to always be on the edge of directing though, and he cast people that could act well and seemed to have a passion for their own characters.

Rating 7 of 10.

Spellbound (1945) on IMDb

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