Spellbound (1945)

110-111 or 116 mins | Drama | 28 December 1945

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HISTORY

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 Dec 1943, a LAEx 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 Jan 1944, while he was working on war-related short films in England, Hitchcock hired Angus MacPhail, a collaborator ... More Less

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 Dec 1943, a LAEx 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 Jan 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 Var 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 HR 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-Jul 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 13 Jul 1944. In Jun 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 Dec 1943 HR 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 Jun 1944, HR 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 HR 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 Aug 1944 HR 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 7 Sep 1944, HR 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 27 Sep 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-Oct 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 NYT 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 (see above entry). Joseph Cotten and Valli starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of Spellbound , which aired on 8 Mar 1945, and on 25 Jan 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 11 Feb 1962. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Nov 1945.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 45
p. 3, 12
Film Daily
31 Oct 45
p. 7.
Hollywood Citizen-News
28 Aug 1944.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 44
p. 2, 8
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 44
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 44
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 45
p. 8.
Los Angeles Examiner
4 Dec 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Sep 44
p. 2093.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Nov 45
p. 2701.
New York Times
2 Nov 45
p. 22.
New York Times
5 Aug 1951.
---
New York Times
2 Sep 1955.
---
PM (Journal)
27 Aug 1944.
---
Variety
31 Oct 45
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d cam on dream seq
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc art dir
Dream seq based on des by
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Women's ward supv
Miss Bergman's gowns
MUSIC
SOUND
Re-rec and eff mixer
Mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Transparency projection shots
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
Psychiatric adv
Unit mgr
Research dir
Tech dir for skiing seq
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes by Francis Beeding (London, 1927).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The House of Dr. Edwardes
Release Date:
28 December 1945
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 October 1945
Production Date:
early July--late September 1944
mid October 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Vanguard Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
28 December 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13711
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110-111 or 116
Length(in feet):
10,001
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10456
SYNOPSIS

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, ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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