Tagline – Will He Kiss Me, Or Kill Me?
Starring – Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Constance Petersen), Gregory Peck (Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne), Michael Chekhov (Dr. Alexander Brulov), Leo G. Carroll (Dr. Murchison), Rhonda Fleming (Mary Carmichael).
Released – December, 1945
Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock
Produced By – Selznick International Pictures, Vanguard Films
Distributed By – United Artists
Description – Returning from a leave taken due to exhaustion, Dr. Murchison, the head of Green Manors Mental Hospital in Vermont, finds that he is being forced out of his position. He is to be replaced by the much younger Dr. Anthony Edwardes.
Psychoanalyst Dr. Constance Petersen meets Dr. Edwardes at a welcoming meeting the evening of his arrival and finds herself attracted to him. However, she becomes suspicious of Dr. Edwardes after he exhibits some strange behavior during the dinner.
The attraction between the two is mutual and there are some shared tender moments. Still unsure, Dr. Petersen’s suspicions lead her to investigate further. She compares the handwriting of the man claiming to be Dr. Edwardes with a book known to have been written by the doctor. There is now no doubt, and Dr. Petersen realizes that this man is an imposter.
She confronts Dr. Edwardes and he admits to killing the real Dr. Edwardes and assuming his identity. He claims to be suffering from massive amnesia and does not know who he really is. Dr. Petersen’s instincts lead her to believe that he may be innocent of murder and suffering from a severe guilt complex.
The police get involved when it becomes public knowledge that the real Dr. Edwardes is missing and may have been murdered. The imposter of Dr. Edwardes leaves during the night before the police can question him. He leaves a note for Dr. Petersen.
He will be at the Empire State Hotel in New York City. With the police now hot in his pursuit, Dr. Petersen rushes to New York to try and unlock his amnesia and find out what really happened.
She realizes that she has fallen in love with him and hopes to prove his innocence, but is she blinded by love and may become his next victim.
NOTABLE: Spellbound won the Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Best Effects, Special Effects.
Although shot in black-and-white, there are two frames when a gun is fired toward the camera that have a red tint.
Artist Salvador Dali assisted with the dream sequence. The scene was originally supposed to run longer, but director Hitchcock and Dali were unhappy with some of the sequence and cut the scene. The edits are believed to have been lost.
The snow falling in the scene where Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne are skiing was filmed using cornflakes for snow.
Personal Note: Although Alfred Hitchcock made one of his usually understated comments regarding this film, “just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis,” it is much more.
A solid film and another triumph for the master director. Although included in the film noir genre not all noir purists agree with this classification, having suggested that Hitchcock owns his own brand of mystery/suspense picture.
Censorship reared its ugly head in this film with the required deletion of the words”sex menace,” “frustrations,” “libido,” and “tomcat,” in scenes regarding the character Mary Carmichael.