Cast & Crew
Leo G. Carroll
When Dr. Anthony Edwardes, the distinguished psychologist who is to take over as head of Green Manors mental hospital, arrives at the countryside facility, his colleagues, including the outgoing head, Dr. Murchison, are surprised to see how young he is. That evening, Dr. Constance Peterson, the hospital's only female psychologist, meets Dr. Edwardes at dinner and is immediately attracted to him. At the doctors' table, Constance, who has been accused by her amorous colleague, Dr. Fleurot, of being cool and detached, talks animatedly about her idea for a woodside swimming pool and starts to draw her proposed design on the tablecloth with the sharp edge of her knife. Dr. Edwardes responds to the curved lines with a sudden burst of anger, baffling his peers. The next day, Constance receives a note from Dr. Edwardes, summoning her to his office. There, Dr. Edwardes asks Constance's help in calming the agitated Garmes, one of her patients who is convinced that he killed his father. After Constance reassures Garmes that his guilt is the result of a childhood trauma, Dr. Edwardes is telephoned by Norma Cramer, whose name he cannot recall but who apparently knows him. Dr. Edwardes abruptly ends the call and then invites Constance to take a walk with him. During their hike, Constance and Dr. Edwardes share a romantic moment, and Constance returns to Green Manors disheveled and starry-eyed. That night, unable to sleep, Constance retrieves a signed copy of a book written by Dr. Edwardes and goes to talk with him. After Constance and Dr. Edwardes confess that they have strong feelings for each other, they kiss. During the embrace, however, Dr. Edwardes notices that Constance's white robe has thin, dark stripes running through it and becomes frightened and dizzy. Just then, word comes that Garmes has stabbed Dr. Fleurot. Dr. Edwardes and Constance rush to surgery, but during the operation on Dr. Fleurot, Dr. Edwardes becomes disoriented and collapses. Later, while Dr. Edwardes sleeps, Constance compares the signature on the note he sent to her with the autograph in his book. Seeing that they are different, Constance questions Dr. Edwardes about his identity as soon as he wakens. Dr. Edwardes admits that he is an impostor and is sure that he murdered the real Dr. Edwardes, but insists that he has no memory. Constance dismisses his confession as delusion and prods him into revealing that he found a cigarette case with the initials "J. B." on it in his jacket. Constance speculates that J. B. are his initials and stresses that by working together, they can quickly reclaim his memories. Later that night, however, J. B. writes a note to Constance, announcing that he loves her but is going to New York. J. B. slips the note under Constance's door and leaves Green Manors. Early the next morning, the sheriff arrives at Green Manors with Norma, the real Dr. Edwardes' assistant. The sheriff and the doctors go to Constance's room to question her about J. B., but she denies knowing anything. The sheriff leaves Constance without discovering the note, which is still on her floor, and, after reading it, she sneaks off to find J. B. at his New York hotel. With inadvertent help from the hotel's house detective, Constance discovers in which room J. B., who registered under the name John Brown, is staying. J. B. is thrilled to see Constance, but worries about her safety and resists her questions. After the persistent Constance determines that J. B. has extensive medical knowledge and is probably a physician, he reads a newspaper report about Dr. Edwardes' disappearance, which states that the psychologist left a resort in the Cumberland Mountains with a patient, presumably him. Constance then notices that J. B. recently suffered serious burns on one arm and suggests that if they go the train station, he might be able to recall where he went with Dr. Edwardes. After a hotel bellboy recognizes Constance from a newspaper photo, she and J. B. rush to the train station. At the ticket counter, a woozy, mumbling J. B. finally recalls the name Rome, but worried that his odd behavior has called attention to them, Constance and J. B. board a train bound for Rochester, where her beloved mentor, Dr. Alex Brulov, lives. During the trip, J. B. remembers with fear that his arm was burnt after his medical transport plane was shot down by Germans near Rome. Later, at Alex's home, police detectives Lt. Cooley and Sgt. Gillespie question Alex about his relationship with Dr. Edwardes, but are unaware of Constance and J. B.'s identities. J. B. and Constance, who has told Alex that J. B. is her new husband, then retire to the upstairs guest room, where J. B. becomes unnerved by the shadowy dark lines visible on Constance's white bedspread. Then, in the middle of the night, J. B. gets up to shave and, after being transfixed by his white shaving cream, grabs his razor and walks downstairs in a daze. Still awake, Alex greets his guest cheerfully and offers him some milk. The next morning, as J. B. slumbers, Alex reveals to Constance that he slipped J. B. some bromide, never having been fooled by her honeymoon story. Alex fears that J. B. is a dangerous schizophrenic, but Constance persuades him to give her a chance to prove J. B.'s innocence before calling the police. After J. B. revives, Alex questions him, and J. B. tells him about the dream he had the night before. Seeing J. B.'s startled reaction to the snow falling outside, Constance then guesses that J. B. went skiing with Dr. Edwardes and helps him to recall the name of the resort, Gabriel Valley. Constance and J. B. take the next train to Gabriel Valley, and as they are skiing down a long slope, J. B. remembers a devastating moment from his childhood when he pushed his brother off a snowy roof, accidentally causing him to be impaled by the spires of an iron gate. J. B. then saves Constance from skiing off the same steep slope on which Dr. Edwardes, in J. B.'s presence, fell to his death. J. B.'s confrontation with his guilt over this painful childhood episode jars his memory and enables him to recall his name, John Ballantine, and some details about his encounter with Dr. Edwardes, who was helping him cope with his war experiences. Later, however, the police, led by Lt. Cooley, arrest J. B. for murder, as they have found Dr. Edwardes' body where J. B. said it would be, but have discovered a bullet in it. J. B. is convicted of the crime, and although Constance returns to her job at Green Manors after the trial, she remains convinced of his innocence. When Dr. Murchison, who has remained as head of the institution, inadvertently mentions that he knew Dr. Edwardes, Constance realizes that he lied about not realizing that J. B. was an impostor and re-reads her notes about J. B.'s dream. Putting together the pieces of the dream, Constance deduces that Dr. Murchison shot Dr. Edwardes after arguing with him in front of J. B. about taking over Green Manors. Constance confronts Dr. Murchison in his office, and he admits his guilt. The deranged doctor then pulls his gun on her, but as she inches her way to the office door, Constance calmly talks him out of killing her. As soon as she closes the door, Dr. Murchison turns the gun on himself and shoots. Later, at Grand Central station, Alex wishes newlyweds Constance and J. B. a wonderful honeymoon.
Leo G. Carroll
Jacqueline De Witt
Richard De Weese
Lowell J. Farrell
Richard L. Johnston
Hal C. Kern
Earl B. Mounce
Clarita Heath Reiter
May E. Romm M.d.
David O. Selznick
William H. Ziegler
Best Special Effects
Best Supporting Actor
Pop Culture - SPELLBOUND (1945)
Spellbound's immediate influence was seen in a spate of psychological thrillers produced in the Hollywood in the late '40s, including Shock (1946), with Vincent Price; Whirlpool (1948), starring Gene Tierney as a kleptomaniac; and Caught (1949), with Robert Ryan, Barbara Bel Geddes and James Mason.
The film was adapted to radio for the Lux Radio Theater in 1948, with Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli (the latter currently starring in Selznick and Hitchcock's The Paradine Case, 1947) in the leads.
The film's crisply shot dream sequences inspired later filmmakers, most notably Roman Polanski (Repulsion, 1965; Rosemary's Baby, 1968), to create dream sequences that looked more like dreams than the conventionalized Hollywood approach of earlier films.
The successful recording of Spellbound's score created a new source of revenue for Hollywood films, the soundtrack album. It was also one of the first film scores to be turned into a piece of classical music, Miklos Rozsa's "Spellbound Concerto" for piano and orchestra.
Rozsa's use of the theremin to mirror Gregory Peck's character's mental problems influenced later film composers, who would use the electronic instrument, particularly in science fiction and horror films. Notable scores to use the instrument include Dimitri Tiomkin's for The Thing From Another World (1951) and Bernard Herrmann's for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
Rozsa's score inspired the young Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen, 1976; L.A. Confidential, 1997) to write music for the movies.
Spellbound was remade for television as a one-hour drama on the anthology series Theatre '62, starring Maureen O'Hara as Dr. Peterson and Hugh O'Brian as J.B.
The film's DVD version, released as part of the Criterion Classics collection, includes a simultaneous commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane; a short film, "A Nightmare Ordered by Telephone," on Hitchcock's work with Salvador Dali, a 1973 interview with Rozsa and a recording of the film's radio version.
by Frank Miller
Pop Culture - SPELLBOUND (1945)
Trivia - SPELLBOUND (1945)
Spellbound grossed nearly $8 million on a budget of $1.7 million. It was the third highest grossing film of 1945.
Since psychiatry was still a relatively new subject for Hollywood, the cast and crew had to take lessons in how to pronounce the technical terms. Seventeen-year-old Rhonda Fleming, a Selznick discovery, had to ask her mother what a nymphomaniac was before going to the studio to play one.
In the dream sequence, Hitchcock included a shot of a man cutting curtains decorated with large eyeballs as a tribute to Dali's work on the classic surrealist short film Un Chien Andalou. One of the most famous images of that film depicts a man slicing a woman's eyeball with a straight razor.
Credited as "Psychiatric Advisor" to the film was producer David O. Selznick's analyst, Dr. May Romm, who had also advised Selznick contract player (and later his wife) Jennifer Jones on how to play her mentally unbalanced character in Love Letters (1945). Selznick biographer David Thompson viewed Spellbound as Selznick's personal thank you to Dr. Romm, whom he only saw for one year.
The superimposed shot of doors opening as Bergman and Peck kiss for the first time was Selznick's idea, based on his fascination with psychiatry. Hitchcock thought that the actors had done enough with their playing of the preceding scene to suggest a new level of intimacy between them. The opening doors, however, literally spelled out that both were opening up to each other as never before.
To create the snowflakes falling on Bergman and Peck during the skiing scenes, technicians used corn flakes.
Leo G. Carroll (Dr. Murchison) appeared in more Alfred Hitchcock films than any other actor. His other movies for the director are Rebecca, Suspicion (1941), The Paradine Case, Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest (1959).
Originally, the Spellbound theme was to have had lyrics, with Selznick contract player Rhonda Fleming recording it for the soundtrack album. When she performed the theme for Hitchcock and Selznick, however, they found it unexceptional and cut them from the album.
When producer David O. Selznick learned that composer Miklos Rozsa was using the theremin, the instrument he had introduced to film scoring in Spellbound, on The Lost Weekend (1945), he was furious. Fearing that the other film, likely to be released earlier than his, would steal his thunder, he called Rozsa to ask if he was really using the electronic instrument. "Yes," Rozsa replied, "I'm using the theremin, and I'm also using the violin, the oboe and the clarinet as well."
At the insistence of her economy-minded husband, Bergman bought portions of her character's wardrobe from Selznick after shooting was completed. The cost for the second-hand clothes was $122.77.
The ads for Spellbound sold it as a love story rather than a mystery. They still caught the film's suspenseful nature, with the tag line "Will he kiss me or kill me?" But the other tags -- "Irresistible their love! Inescapable their fears." and "The Maddest Love that ever possessed a woman" - were pure love story. In the first week of its New York premiere at the Astor Theater, Spellbound grossed $60,000, breaking the theater's box office record, previously set by Gone With the Wind (1939).
Spellbound's box office success prompted Hitchcock to put together another project to star Bergman in a script by Ben Hecht the following year, Notorious (1946).
Famous Quotes from SPELLBOUND
"The analyst seeks only to induce the patient to talk about his hidden problems, to open the locked doors of his mind. Once the complexes that have been disturbing the patient are uncovered and interpreted, the illness and confusion disappears and the devils of unreason are driven from the human soul." - Screenwriter Ben Hecht's written prelude to the film.
"You're a sweet, pulsing, adorable woman underneath. I sense it every time I come near to you."
"You sense only your own desires and pulsations - I assure you, mine in no way resemble them." - John Emery as Dr. Fleurot, flirting fruitlessly with Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Peterson.
"People often feel guilty for something they never did, and it usually goes back to something in their childhood. A child often wishes something terrible would happen to someone - and if something does happen to that person, the child believes he has caused it, and he grows up with a guilt complex over a sin that was only a child's bad dream." - Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Peterson, citing the psychoanalytic theory that will ultimately explain the film's mystery.
"I'm haunted, but I can't see by what." - Gregory Peck as Dr. John "J.B." Ballantine.
"We're all just bundles of inhibitions." - Bergman as Dr. Peterson.
"Now, this honeymoon is complicated enough without your dragging medical ethics into it." - Peck as J.B.
"Good night and sweet dreams...which we'll analyze in the morning." - Michael Chekhov as Dr. Brulov, welcoming Bergman and Peck to his home.
"I seemed to be in a gambling house, but there weren't any walls, just a lot of curtains with eyes painted on them. A man was walking around with a large pair of scissors cutting all the drapes in half. Then a girl came in with hardly anything on and started walking around the gambling room kissing everybody. I was sitting there playing cards with a man who had a beard. He said, 'That makes 21 - I win.' But when he turned up his cards, they were blank. Just then the proprietor came in and accused him of cheating. The proprietor yelled, 'This is my place, and if I catch you cheating again, I'll fix you.' Then I saw the man with the beard. He was leaning over the sloping roof of a high building. I yelled at him to watch out. Then he went over - slowly - with his feet in the air. And then I saw the proprietor again. He was hiding behind a tall chimney, and he had a small wheel in his hand. I saw him drop the wheel on the roof. Then I was running and heard something beating over my head. It was a great pair of wings they were chasing me and almost caught up with me when I came to the bottom of the hill. That's all I remember. Then I woke up." -Peck as J.B., describing his dream.
"Women make the best psychoanalysts until they fall in love. After that they make the best patients." - Chekhov as Dr. Brulov, in a line often hissed by contemporary audiences.
"It is very sad to love and lose somebody, but in a while you will forget, and you will take up the threads of your life where you left off not long ago. And you will work hard. There is lots of happiness in working hard - maybe the most." - Chekhov, comforting Bergman on her failure to solve Peck's problems to this point.
Compiled by Frank Miller
Trivia - SPELLBOUND (1945)
The Big Idea - SPELLBOUND (1945)
Spellbound's script was adapted from the 1927 novel The House of Dr. Edwardes, about a female intern who arrives at a posh asylum in Switzerland to discover its head, Dr. Edwardes, on vacation and his staff behaving strangely. Gradually she realizes that they are members of a satanic cult. They're about to sacrifice her when Edwardes rescues her and reveals that they're all inmates who had broken free and taken over the asylum. The novel is attributed to Francis Beeding, which was a pseudonym for the team of John Leslie Palmer and Hilary Aidan St. George Sanders.
The impetus to make Spellbound came from independent producer David O. Selznick's own dabbling with psychoanalysis. Although he only spent a year in therapy, he was overwhelmed with the healing possibilities of treatment. He began pestering director Alfred Hitchcock to come up with a psychological thriller grounded in Freudian theory.
Hitchcock discovered the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes while on a visit to England in 1944 and bought the rights for a nominal fee. He had started working on a screenplay with writer Angus MacPhail, but was having problems with the story. In their version, there were three love stories complicated by psychological problems that were resolved when the leading lady, a psychiatrist, helped her amnesiac patient realize that the death he thought he had caused was just an accident. Although he wasn't satisfied with the script, Hitchcock suggested it to Selznick as his next film.
Initially, Selznick wanted to team Joseph Cotten and Dorothy McGuire in the leads, with Paul Lukas as the villainous Dr. Murchison. He also considered luring Greta Garbo back to the screen to star.
Ultimately, Selznick decided to team contract players Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck for the film. As an independent, he had only produced a small number of films each year, loaning his contract talent out to other studios. He hadn't yet produced any of Peck's films and he hadn't produced a Bergman film since her U.S. debut in Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) or a Hitchcock film since his Oscar®-winning Best Picture, Rebecca, in 1940. With all three growing in popularity and demonstrating solid box-office appeal, Selznick decided to find a project that would allow him to team all three.
Unhappy with Hitchcock's initial treatment of the story, Selznick suggested that they hire Ben Hecht, who had saved the script for Selznick's Gone With the Wind (1939), to write the final draft. He also insisted that Hecht and Hitchcock cut any of the supernatural material remaining from the original novel.
At the time, Hecht was undergoing psychoanalysis and found the idea of a mystery based in Freudian theory fascinating. He suggested cutting the peripheral love stories to focus on the female psychiatrist and the amnesiac patient with whom she had fallen in love. Since psychoanalysis had proven successful as the subject of the hit Broadway musical Lady in the Dark (1941), Hitchcock and Selznick approved of this approach to the material.
Hitchcock and Hecht toured mental hospitals in Connecticut and New York to do research on the film. They spent most of their time in the psychiatric ward of New York City's Bellevue Hospital.
To be doubly sure of the project's appeal to audiences, Selznick commissioned a poll by the Audience Research Institute on the idea of a mystery based on psychoanalysis, various star pairings and such titles as The House of Dr. Edwardes, The Couch and The Man who Found Himself. The novel's original title received a 70 percent approval rating, although there was less than 50 percent acceptance of the subject. Joseph Cotten was most appealing as the film's star, though researchers noted that Peck was still a relatively new leading man. Bergman was the most popular of the actresses suggested for the film, far outranking Garbo.
When Selznick's business office estimated the film's budget at $1.25 million, he almost canceled the picture. Hitchcock had to promise to make the film quickly and efficiently to change his mind.
Bergman initially turned down the script, complaining that the love story was unbelievable. Hitchcock supervised re-writes that put more focus on the situation of two lovers on the run or, as he described it, "a manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis.
As originally scripted, Peck's character's dreams, which held the key to the film's mystery, were only described in the dialogue. During pre-production, however, Hitchcock decided he needed to show them on-screen. But he also wanted to break with Hollywood tradition in presenting them. He later said, "Traditionally, up to that time, dream scenes in films were always done with swirling smoke, slightly out of focus. This was the convention, and I decided I wanted to go the other way to convey the dreams with great visual sharpness and clarity, sharper than the rest of the film itself."
With screenwriter Ben Hecht, he suggested hiring surrealist painter Salvador Dali to design Ballantine's dreams, which hold the secret to the film's mystery. Dali was already famous for his dreamlike paintings, including his famous portrait of Mae West in which her features were depicted as furniture in a bedroom. He also had worked with filmmaker Luis Bunuel on the early surrealistic films Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L'Age d'Or (1930). Selznick agreed to his hiring on the grounds that it would be good for publicity.
Under his original agreement, Dali was to sketch out the dream sequences for Hitchcock's approval, then turn their agreed upon images into a series of paintings for which he would receive $1,000 each. These final concepts could not be altered without his permission. He handed in five paintings in June 1944, and Selznick's financial department budgeted the dream sequence at $150,000. Once again, Selznick was ready to pull the plug, at least on the dream sequences. But Hitchcock devised a plan to use special effects and projections of Dali's paintings that lowered the projected cost to $20,000. Selznick gave him the go-ahead.
Hitchcock's salary for the film was $150,000.
Famed acting teacher Michael Chekhov, a nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov and a former member of the Moscow Art Theater, was cast as Bergman's mentor, Dr. Brulov.
by Frank Miller
The Big Idea - SPELLBOUND (1945)
Behind the Camera - SPELLBOUND (1945)
Although most of the film was shot on Hollywood sound stages, the company went on location to the Wasatch Mountains in Utah for the skiing scenes and the Cooper Ranch in Northridge, Calif., for the picnic scene.
Producer David O. Selznick wanted a written forward to the film that would help the audience understand the psychoanalytical concepts behind the mystery. He first asked his own analyst, Dr. May Romm, who had served as a psychiatric advisor on Spellbound and other recent films of his, but she couldn't come up with the right opening. Then he appealed to Dr. Karl Menninger, director of the famous Menninger Clinic, but the doctor refused to get involved in what he saw as an over-simplification of psychoanalysis. Finally, screenwriter Ben Hecht hammered it out.
Selznick had little involvement in the actual production because at the time he was tied up with his World War II family drama, Since You Went Away (1944). Nonetheless, director Alfred Hitchcock kept to his word about filming efficiently. He was filming an average of four and a half pages a day, and by the end of the first month he was a week ahead of schedule.
One thing that contributed to Selznick's lack of interference on the film was Hitchcock's habit of developing camera problems whenever the producer would visit the set. The moment Selznick arrived, Hitch would discover that the camera wouldn't work. As soon as the producer left, however, it miraculously started to function again.
Bergman had problems with one of the film's more emotional scenes and told Hitchcock she just couldn't build up the appropriate feeling. His advice: "Ingrid, fake it!" She would later call it the best piece of direction she had ever received. Throughout her career she would remember his advice whenever she was faced with similar problems.
Hitchcock wanted to film the picture's climactic suicide from the victim's point of view. Since the shot started with the gun in the foreground while Bergman's character walks out of the room in the background, this required some special thinking, as there was no way to keep the killer's hand, the gun and Bergman all in focus at the same time. They solved the problem by creating a false hand and gun four times larger than life. The hand had to be movable so the gun could follow Bergman as she leaves the room, then turn 180 degrees to point at the gun's owner before firing. And to add a special shock to the system, Hitchcock had the gunshot flash red in the otherwise black and white film. This required hand coloring individual frames of film, a process not followed in later prints.
As originally conceived by Salvador Dali, the dream sequences would have run 22 minutes and included such strange elements as a sculpture that breaks in two to reveal that it's filled with ants that then crawl over Bergman's face. Hitchcock finally got him to come up with something more filmable. Instead, they showed a sequence in which Peck watched Bergman turn into a statue. Technicians coated her with plaster, then attached parts of an arrow to either side of her neck, as though it had pierced her. While the cameras rolled, she broke out of the plaster. Then the scene was shown backwards, so the plaster seemed to be encasing her body. Bergman thought it was brilliant.
Hitchcock completed principal photography on October 13, 1944 and left for London.
Selznick was totally dissatisfied with the dream sequences Hitchcock had filmed from Dali's scenario. He found them pedestrian, like something out of a Poverty Row quickie. With Hitchcock out of the country, Selznick turned first to director Josef von Sternberg, who turned down his invitation to film the dream sequences. Then he turned to designer William Cameron Menzies, who had directed the visionary British science fiction film Things to Come (1936) and supervised the visuals on Selznick's Gone With the Wind. Menzies came up with a new scenario for the dream sequence, which was approved by Dali and Hitchcock when the latter returned to the U.S. in December 1944. Selznick still wasn't happy with what came out on film. Eventually the dream was cut to about two minutes, and Menzies declined any screen credit.
As he was preparing the film for previews, Selznick decided that he didn't care for the title The House of Dr. Edwardes. As he had in the past, he held an in-house competition to rename the film, with the $50 prize going to secretary Ruth Batchelor, who suggested Spellbound.
Spellbound performed well in previews, with the biggest surprise being audience reaction to Peck in the male lead. By this point in time, he had scored a hit in 20th Century-Fox's religious drama The Keys of the Kingdom (1944). That and his publicity had turned him into a major sex symbol. As Selznick reported in one of his famous memos: "We could not keep the audience quiet from the time his name came on the screen until we had shushed them through three or four sequences and stopped all the dames from 'oohing' and 'ahing' and gurgling."
After the first preview, Selznick cut about 20 minutes out of the film, including an opening montage depicting treatment in mental hospitals.
Selznick was still looking for something to increase the film's prestige and decided to give it a more ambitious score. On the advice of actor Lionel Barrymore, he caught a screening of Double Indemnity (1944), scored by Miklos Rozsa, a classical composer. Rozsa had already achieved a first when his music for producer Alexander Korda's Jungle Book became the first film score sold to the public. At the time, other studio heads had not considered the commercial possibilities of film soundtracks on record. Most weren't even tying up the recording rights for themselves. Selznick reasoned that a soundtrack album with popular stars Peck and Bergman on the cover would be a big seller. He first asked Rozsa to score a suspense sequence in which Peck menaced Bergman with a straight razor. With the instructions to produce "an unusual sound - something new," the composer decided to use the theremin, an early electronic musical instrument. Selznick and Hitchcock were so impressed they signed him to the film. Selznick also released a hit soundtrack album, one of Hollywood's first.
With the delays in finishing the dream sequence and the glut of wartime product, Spellbound premiered in October 1945, almost a year after Hitchcock completed principal photography. Selznick was concerned that Bergman's other 1945 release -- The Bells of St. Mary's, completed after Spellbound -- was set to premiere the same month. So he turned the event into a plus by advertising 1945 as "The Year of Bergman."
by Frank Miller
Behind the Camera - SPELLBOUND (1945)
The Critics Corner - SPELLBOUND (1945)
"Hitchcock's deft timing and sharp, imaginative camera work raise Spellbound well above the routine of Hollywood thrillers." -- Time.
"Compelling performances by Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, the work is a masterful psychiatric thriller." -- The New York Herald Tribune.
"...Hitchcock embellishes it with characteristically brilliant twists, like the infinite variety of parallel lines which etch their way through Peck's mind. The imagery is sometimes overblown (doors open magically down a corridor when Peck and Bergman kiss), and the dream sequences designed by Dali are exactly what you'd expect; but there are moments, especially towards the end, when the images and ideas really work together." - Helen MacKintosh, TimeOut.
"Both [Bergman and Peck] are ornamentally effective looking - so much so that in spite of some bits of pretty good playing, it was impossible to disidentify them from illustrations in a slick-paper magazine serial and more hopeless still to identify them with living people." - James Agee, The Nation.
"...with all the obvious ingredients for success, Spellbound is a disaster. It was fitting that the actress who was once described as a "fine, strong, cow-country maiden" should be cast as a good, solid analyst, dispensing cures with the wholesome simplicity of a mother adding wheat germ to the family diet, but Bergman's apple-cheeked sincerity has rarely been as out of place as in this confection whipped up by jaded chefs." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.
"This psychological thriller in the typical somber Hollywood thriller style of the Forties is persuasively directed by Hitchcock, who nevertheless amused himself with some bits of gratuitous technical virtuosity - the rather mediocre Salvador Dali dream sequence and the audience identification in the "first-person" suicide of the murderer at the end." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films.
Awards & Honors
The New York Film Critics Circle named Ingrid Bergman Best Actress for her performances in Spellbound and The Bells of St. Mary's. When the year's Oscar® nominations were announced, Bergman had been nominated for the latter film. She would lose to Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce.
Spellbound was nominated for six Academy Awards®: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Score. It won in the latter category for Miklos Rozsa's combination of lush romantic themes with a pioneering use of the electronic instrument the theremin.
Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford
The Critics Corner - SPELLBOUND (1945)
But as Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut in 1962, the script "rambled." Hitchcock returned to Hollywood where he found a very receptive David O. Selznick. Though not yet committed to the film, Selznick was keenly interested in it, particularly the story's focus on psychoanalysis. Selznick had been persuaded to try psychoanalysis by the great screenwriter Ben Hecht, who was also in analysis. Selznick gave the project to Hecht and agreed to produce the picture.
Hecht made a number of important changes to the script, now called "The Guilt Complex." He beefed up the love story and added the visual motif of parallel lines that link the hero's memories of the two deaths he was witness to, his brother's and Dr. Edwardes'. Though Selznick had originally intended the film to be a vehicle for Joseph Cotten, Dorothy McGuire and Paul Lukas, he quickly changed his mind and settled on Ingrid Bergman and newcomer Gregory Peck.
Recently acclaimed for her Oscar winning performance in Gaslight (1944), the twenty-nine year old Bergman thoroughly enjoyed working with the mercurial director, though she found his methods a bit dictatorial. According to her autobiography, Hitchcock was so prepared with his storyboards when he came to the set that he never even looked through the camera. His preparation impressed Bergman but it left little room for the actors to make suggestions. "Sometimes I thought I got through, and that Hitchcock was going to change the set-up. But as a rule he used to get his way by simply saying, 'If you can't do it my way, fake it'."
Bergman claims to have found this advice useful in later years, but her co-star, the twenty-eight year old Peck, was unhappy with the director's formalism. Peck later admitted to a sense of failure with respect to Hitchcock: "To my regret, I don't think I was his kind of an actor-certainly not at the time. I would like to have worked with him ten years later. I'd like to work with him now-because I think I could produce any kind of effect he would want."
To make the psychoanalytic breakthrough at all plausible, the dream sequence was critical. Hitchcock and Hecht somehow managed to convince Selznick that Salvador Dali was the right man for the job, and so the great surrealist painter was commissioned to produce a series of paintings whose images could be used to convey the hero's troubled unconscious. Hitchcock told Truffaut that the reason he wanted Dali was because he "wanted to convey the dreams with great visual sharpness and clarity, sharper than the film itself." Selznick was so interested in doing justice to psychoanalysis that he hired his own analyst, May Romm, to serve as technical advisor on the film. The dream is, according to Sigmund Freud, a puzzle: "We cannot help concluding, then, that there is a causal connection between the obscurity of the dream content and the state of repression (inadmissibility to consciousness) of certain of the dream-thoughts, and that the dream had to be obscure so as not to betray the proscribed dream-thoughts."
As Hitchcock tells it, "Dali had some strange ideas; he 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 the ants! It just wasn't possible." Nevertheless, the original sequence was 22 minutes long and, according to Bergman, it was so good that it "really belongs in a museum." They did actually cover Bergman in plaster so as to create the illusion of a woman becoming a statue when the film ran in reverse. "It was marvelous," Bergman recalled, "but someone went to Selznick and said, 'What is all this drivel?' and so they cut it. It was such a pity." The entire sequence was directed not by Hitchcock (who was back in London at the time), but by William Cameron Menzies. Menzies, though, was apparently so displeased with the project and the results that he asked that his name be removed from the credits.
Despite all the emphasis and interest in psychoanalysis, in the end, none of it really matters. As Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto notes, the "psychological apparatus by which the mystery is solved in Spellbound . . . is itself in fact the MacGuffin, as the film presents a romantic situation with dreadful obstacles which we believe will be overcome." According to Hitchcock, the MacGuffin is nothing more than a "gimmick," a device to keep the plot going. In The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), it is the plans for an airplane engine; in The Lady Vanishes (1938), the MacGuffin is the little tune; in North by Northwest (1959), it's a piece of microfilm. The identity of the MacGuffin is unimportant. As Hitchcock told Truffaut, "the main thing I've learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I'm convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove to others." According to Hitchcock, Spellbound is "just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis." (Such "pseudo-psychoanalysis" would continue to fascinate Hitchcock, however, and he used it to great effect in Vertigo , Psycho  and Marnie .)
In addition to the great dream sequence, the film is filled with other wonderful visual effects. Two scenes in particular deserve mention: When Bergman and Peck are hiding out in Michael Chekhov's cottage, Peck comes down the stairs in a stupor, a straight razor in his hand. Chekhov gives him a glass of drugged milk and we see the scene distort as the glass is brought up to the camera and the milk poured (seemingly) into the lens. The shot was made by placing a giant glass pail in front of the camera and then pouring a large amount of milk into a trough below. (This was Hitchcock's second special effects glass of milk; in Suspicion , he put a light inside the glass of milk that Cary Grant brings to Joan Fontaine.)
Special effects were also used in the film's climax. Leo G. Carroll aims the pistol at Ingrid Bergman and we see the scene from Carroll's point-of-view, down the barrel of the gun. Because of technical limitations at the time, there was no way to get both the gun and Bergman in focus simultaneously. The solution was to build a large-scale model hand and gun which could be placed a few feet from the camera. It took an entire week to prepare the scene and nineteen takes to get it right. Carroll was a Hitchcock favorite; he had already appeared in Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion, and would later work on The Paradine Case (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest. For the moment when Carroll turns the gun on himself, Hitchcock thought of the idea of hand coloring two frames of the film bright red, to give the audience an almost unconscious sense of blood.
The final suicide drew sharp criticism from the Production Code Administration, whose explicit standards held that suicide was "to be discouraged as morally questionable and as bad theater - unless absolutely necessary for the development of the plot." Selznick personally intervened and managed to convince Joseph Breen and Geoffrey Sherlock that the suicide was essential.
Miklos Rozsa won an Oscar® for his score, and though Hitchcock later disparaged Rozsa's work for the film, the music is an essential element of the film. It is also one of the first uses of the electronic theremin, and Rozsa, who used the theremin a year later in The Lost Weekend (1945), was instrumental in linking the eerie sound of the theremin with fear and psychological disorder. In addition to Rozsa's Oscar®, Spellbound also received Academy Award® nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects, Best Director and Best Picture.
Though no one involved would claim that Spellbound was the highlight of their career, the film was a great crowd-pleaser and an important stepping stone for all, and the following year, Selznick brought Hitchcock, Hecht and Bergman together again for the classic Notorious (1946). Oh, and for those of you paying attention, Hitchcock's cameo comes about 40 minutes into the film. He emerges from an elevator at the Empire Hotel carrying a violin case.
Producer: David O. Selznick
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Ben Hecht, Angus MacPhail, based on a novel by Francis Beeding
Art Direction: John Ewing, James Basevi
Cinematography: George Barnes, James Wimpy, Rex Wimpy
Editing: Hal Kern, William H. Ziegler
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Cast: Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Constance Peterson), Gregory Peck (John Ballantine), Leo G. Carroll (Dr. Murchison), Michael Chekhov (Dr. Brulov), John Emery (Dr. Fleurot), Steven Geray (Dr. Graff), Rhonda Fleming (Mary Carmichael), Donald Curtis (Harry), Norman Lloyd (Garmes), Regis Toomey (Sgt. Gillespie), Wallace Ford (Hotel Masher).
BW-118m. Closed captioning.
By Mark Frankel
Now, this honeymoon is complicated enough without your dragging medical ethics into it.- John Ballantine
Good night and sweet dreams... which we'll analyze in the morning.- Dr. Alex Brulov
Women make the best psychoanalysts until they fall in love. After that they make the best patients.- Dr. Alex Brulov
I think the greatest harm done the human race has been done by the poets- Constance Petersen
Oh, poets are dull boys, most of them, but not especially fiendish.- Anthony Edwardes
They keep filling people's heads with delusions about love... writing about it as if it were a symphony orchestra or a flight of angels.- Constance Petersen
Which is isn't, eh?- Anthony Edwardes
Of course not. People fall in love, as they put it, because they respond to a certain hair coloring or vocal tones or mannerisms that remind them of their parents.- Constance Petersen
And remember what I say: any husband of Constance, is a husband of mine.- Dr. Alex Brulov
Although the film is in black and white, two frames where the gun shot goes off while pointed at the camera are tinted red.
about 40 minutes in, coming out of the elevator at the Empire Hotel carrying a violin case and smoking a cigarette.
One of the first Hollywood films to deal with psychoanalysis.
The dream sequence was designed by Salvador Dali, and was originally supposed to run for 20 minutes. It included a scene with Dr. Peterson covered in ants. Only part of it was filmed, and even less of it ended up in the release version.
The shot where the audience sees the killer's view down a gun barrel pointing at Peterson was filmed using a giant hand holding a giant gun to get the perspective correct.
The working titles of this film were The House of Dr. Edwardes and The House of Dr. Edwards. Modern sources also list The Interloper as a working title and claim that, after director Alfred Hitchcock had suggested Hidden Impulse as a title, studio secretary Ruth Rickman came up with the title Spellbound, which tested well in a pre-release survey. Opening credits conclude with the following quotation from William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar: "The fault.....is not in our stars/But in ourselves." A written foreword then follows: "Our story deals with psychoanalysis, the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane. The analyst seeks only to induce the patient to talk about his hidden problems, to open the locked doors of his mind. Once the complexes that have been disturbing the patient are uncovered and interpreted, the illness and confusion disappear.....and the devils of unreason are driven from the human soul."
According to modern sources, in late 1943, after independent producer David O. Selznick asked Hitchcock, who was under contract to him, to develop a "psychiatric" story, Hitchcock persuaded Selznick to purchase rights to the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes from him for $40,000. In December 1943, a Los Angeles Examiner item reported that Hitchcock, with his wife, Alma Reville, was writing an adaptation of the novel, which was written by Hilary St. George Saunders and John Palmer under the joint pseudonym Francis Beeding. Modern sources note that, in January 1944, while he was working on war-related short films in England, Hitchcock hired Angus MacPhail, a collaborator on the shorts, to co-author a treatment with him. Only MacPhail received an onscreen adaptation credit, and the extent of Reville's contribution to the completed film has not been determined. According to the Variety review, Hitchcock consulted prominent British psychoanalysts while the treatment was being written.
Hitchcock and MacPhail altered the novel radically, according to modern sources, changing the villain, "Dr. Edwardes," from a psychopath who takes over an Alpine mental institution to the quietly deranged "Dr. Murchison." After Hitchcock turned in the treatment, Selznick hired Ben Hecht, a veteran of psychoanalysis, to write the screenplay. Hitchcock collaborated on drafts of the script with Hecht in New York and, according to a May 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item, conducted research into "modern hospital treatment," while there. Concerned about a survey conducted by Audience Research, Inc. in spring 1944, which indicated that audience acceptance of a "psychiatric story" was not strong, Selznick pushed Hecht and Hitchcock to beef up the romantic aspects of the story, according to modern sources, and ordered them to include a "Murchison-J. B.-Constance" love triangle. Modern sources note that Hecht and Hitchcock argued against the triangle, and after Fredric March turned down the role of Murchison, and Ralph Bellamy and Alan Napier failed to impress in the part during screen tests, Selznick allowed the element to be dropped from the script.
Between mid-May and mid-July 1944, Selznick submitted various drafts of the Hecht screenplay for censorship approval, according to MPAA/PCA records contained at the AMPAS Library. PCA director Joseph I. Breen's strongly objected to words and phrases in the script such as "sex menace," "frustations," "libido" and "tomcat," which he pointed out was an expression "on the Association's list of forbidden words." Some of these words appeared in early scenes involving the character of "Mary Carmichael," a violent nymphomaniac. Breen also complained about an alluded to affair between "Mrs. Murchison" and "Dr. Fleurot" and cautioned that no "flavor of sex" permeate the relationship between "J. B." and "Constance." The affair, and the character of Mrs. Murchison, were dropped from the story, as were the controversial words, and the shooting script was approved on July 13, 1944. In June 1946, Breen received a complaint from A. R. Allen of the J. Arthur Rank Organization, who objected to the fact that while his company was not allowed to have a character from its adaptation of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby commit suicide as a way of avoiding justice, Selznick was permitted to have Dr. Murchison kill himself. Breen explained the apparent descrepancy by pointing out that Dr. Murchison was "obviously of unsound mind," which made him an exception to the PCA's "suicide" rule.
According to December 1943 Hollywood Reporter news items, Joseph Cotten and Dorothy McGuire originally were to star in the production. After Selznick cast Cotten in another one of his films, I'll Be Seeing You, however, he hired rising star Gregory Peck, whom he had signed to a contract in 1943, for the role of J. B. Selznick borrowed Rhonda Fleming from Fox for the production. Although news items list Robert Dudley as a cast member, his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Spellbound as a man smoking a cigarette while exiting a hotel elevator.
Selznick hired his own analyst, Dr. May E. Romm, a prominent Beverly Hills psychiatrist who had worked on Selznick's 1944 film Since You Went Away, to serve as a technical advisor on Spellbound. According to modern sources, Romm not only made suggestions on the script, but authored the film's foreword as well. Modern sources also claim that at Selznick's request, Dr. Karl Menninger, another noted psychiatrist, reviewed Romm's foreword and made comments and suggestions. In early June 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that Dr. Fraime Sertoroclos, a "Transylvanian psychiatrist/metaphysicist," had been hired to work on the film, presumably as a technical advisor. Onscreen credits, however, list only Romm as advisor, and Sertoroclos' contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. According to copyright publicity material, Eileen Johnston, a "student of psychoanalysis," acted as a "go-between" during production. Modern sources confirm that Johnston worked with Romm on the production.
According to a modern interview with Hitchcock, he asked Selznick to hire Spanish painter Salvador Dali to design the film's dream sequence, in order to "break with the traditional way of handling dream sequences through a blurred and hazy screen." Hitchcock wanted to depict the dream with "great visual sharpness and clarity" and was attracted to the "architectural sharpness" of Dali's style. Modern sources note that Dali was paid $4,000 for his work. The director had planned to shoot the dream sequence in "real sunshine," according to contemporary items, but because of budgetary concerns, the scenes were filmed on a studio set. Contemporary news items also note that the dream sequence originally included Ingrid Bergman in a full-sized plaster mold. As the dream progressed, the mold was to crack, or "disintegrate," and thousands of ants were to crawl out of its face. The ants were dropped, however, after Bergman protested. The scene also featured eight dwarf actors, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. Modern sources claim that art director William Cameron Menzies worked briefly on the dream sequence. For the next-to-last sequence, in which Murchison points his gun at Constance as she walks from his desk to the door, then turns the weapon on himself, Hitchcock constructed a giant-sized gun, according to the modern interview. The oversized prop enabled Hitchcock to shoot the entire scene from Murchison's point of view, while keeping Constance in focus as she crosses the room. When Murchison pulls the trigger, the gun appears to be firing at the audience. That segment included several frames that were hand-painted red.
Modern sources note that except for the dream sequence and location work, the story was filmed mostly in sequence. Location shooting took place at the Alta Lodge in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, according to publicity material. Exterior shots were shot without sound. A late August 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the railway station exteriors were to be filmed on the Universal lot. During the skiing sequence, doubles for Bergman and Peck, who could not ski, were used, according to modern sources. Hitchcock noted in the modern interview that cameraman Jack Warren "worked" with him on the picture. On September 7, 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that Bergman was to do a scene from the film on Rudy Vallee's radio show. The film's first preview took place on September 27, 1944, according to modern sources, and after reading the audience's comments, Selznick eliminated an opening montage showing various methods of treating mentally disturbed patients. In mid-October 1944, in an effort to strengthen the romantic angle of the story, Hitchcock shot retakes of the picnic scene at the Cooper Ranch in Northridge, CA. Modern sources claim that after the completion of principal photography, Selznick took over the re-recording of the dialogue and later, the editing, elminating almost fourteen minutes of footage. The final cost of production was $1,696,377, according to modern sources. In early 1945, in reaction to a Gallup poll that indicated that the public had little knowledge of the soon-to-be released film, Selznick postponed the opening by almost six months.
Reaction to the film was very favorable; in particular, Bergman's and Peck's performances won much praise. Reviewers also commented favorably on Rozsa's use of an electric instrument called a theremin to create psychological tension in the picture. Rozsa first experimented with the theremin in Alexander Korda's 1940 picture The Thief of Bagdad. Spellbound was a financial success; by early 1947, according to modern sources, it had grossed over six million dollars. The picture received Academy Award nominations in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography (black-and-white) and Best Special Effects. Miklos Rozsa won an Oscar for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture). The New York Times included the film on its "ten best" list of 1945. In 1955, Spellbound was re-released on a double-bill with Hitchcock's 1948 Selznick production The Paradine Case, which also starred Peck . Joseph Cotten and Valli starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of Spellbound, which aired on March 8, 1945, and on January 25, 1951, Cotten performed in a Hallmark Playhouse version. A television version of Hecht's screenplay, directed by Paul Bogart and starring Hugh O'Brian, Oscar Homolka and Maureen O'Hara, was broadcast on NBC's Theatre 62 program on February 11, 1962.
Released in United States Winter December 28, 1945
Re-released in United States on Video August 1998
Re-reased video is a digitally remastered edition.
Re-released in United States on Video August 1998
Released in United States Winter December 28, 1945