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Constance Petersen: It's very late. I was going to read your book again. I'd like to discuss it. I've never discussed an author's work with him. At school we had several literary professors, but that was different. I sound rather nervous, don't I?
John Ballantine: Not at all.
Constance Petersen: I thought I wanted to discuss your book, I'm amazed at the subterfuge. I don't want to discuss it.
John Ballantine: I understand.
Constance Petersen: It's remarkable to discover one isn't what one thought. I've always been aware of what was in my mind.
John Ballantine: And you're not now?
Constance Petersen: It's quite ridiculous. I was stupid to come in here like a distracted child.
John Ballantine: You're very lovely.
Constance Petersen: Don't talk that way, you'll think I came in to hear that.
John Ballantine: I know why you came in.
Constance Petersen: Why?
John Ballantine: Because something has happened to us.
Constance Petersen: But it doesn't happen like that, in a day.
John Ballantine: It happens in a moment sometimes. I felt it this afternoon. Like lightening striking. It strikes rarely.
Psychiatry isn't as simple as Spellbound would have you believe, the reasons for one's neuroses sure can't get cured with two or three sessions with Ingrid Bergman. But certain events can definitely be explained and it all seems quite reasonable when the explanations come from Alfred Hitchcock.
Spellbound gave both Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman their first Hitchcock films and their only film together. Peck arrives at a sanitarium to take the place of director Leo G. Carroll. But after a short time, the other psychiatrists realize that he's not all he seems.
Back when I was in college I took an introductory psychology course to fill up my electives and Spellbound got to mean something to me then. I had a professor who I wasn't quite sure didn't belong in an asylum run by Leo G. Carroll. It was a running joke in the class that we were all in the midst of a Spellbound like drama that this man had killed the real professor and that at any time the men with the nets were going to drag our teacher away.
Episodes in Peck's life from childhood and the war and the trauma of seeing what happened to the real doctor have made him an amnesia case out of Peck. It's up to Ingrid to unravel it all by trying to interpret some recurring dreams.
The dream sequences involve some sets courtesy of Salvador Dali and it's the main reason that Spellbound is remembered today as opposed to being just another of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces. For fans of the great painter this film is a must.
Spellbound got a whole slew of nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and several more in technical categories. Spellbound and Alfred Hitchcock came up short against The Lost Weekend and Billy Wilder. Michael Chekov got a Best Supporting Actor nomination but lost to James Dunn for A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Chekov plays Ingrid Bergman's mentor and he's right out of central casting as a Viennese Freudian psychiatrist.
Spellbound took home one award for Miklos Rosza's score and it will linger with you a long time after you've seen Spellbound.
Rhonda Fleming got her first critical notice as a homicidal mental patient, it's a brief but telling role. John Emery who is probably best known for being Tallulah Bankhead's husband plays a wolfish analyst on the make for Ingrid Bergman and plays it well.
When Bergman finally unravels it all, her final confrontation scene with the villain is one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. Talk about coolness under fire.
Though simplistic in its treatment of psychiatry, Spellbound will leave you just that when you see it.
Gregory Peck as John Ballantine aka Dr. Anthony Edwardes
Spellbound picture from 1945 movie
Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Petersen