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Vintage Review: Spellbound – A Romantic Psychological Thriller

Spellbound realization

Spellbound Movie Review

Spellbound is a psychological thriller by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck. Set in a psychiatric institute, it explores the nature of guilt, sanity and love. A film with many different facets, it has much to offer.  It has romance, suspense, mystery and much more.

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Spellbound - embracing a textbook
‘It’s rather like embracing a textbook.’

Dr. Constance Petersen is an excellent psychiatrist with little interest in romance (much to the chagrin of her colleagues). That is until a handsome young doctor arrives at Green Manors. She feels an immediate connection to him. However, something is not quite right about Dr. Edwardes. He can’t remember aspects of his past. Innocuous things seem to set off a strong negative reaction in him. He acts more like a patient than a doctor. Could he be an impostor? If so, where is the real Dr. Edwardes? And who is the man that she is beginning to fall in love with? Dr. Petersen is determined to unravel the mystery.

Spellbound romance
A romantic moment disturbed.

Spellbound is actually based on a book by Hilary Saunders and John Palmer titled The House of Dr. Edwardes. However, it appears there is little similarity between book and film. Nevertheless, it is a great story with a lot of interesting twists. It is an unpredictable film with a romance and mystery which are equally fascinating. You are kept guessing until its final gripping confrontation.

Spellbound was the second film to use the Theremin on its soundtrack; a unique electronic instrument which does not require physical contact to play. It is often used to create a sense of foreboding or eeriness. Miklos Rozsa has successfully imbued Spellbound with an ongoing uneasiness. This is extremely important in maintaining the unsettling atmosphere of the film.

Spellbound breakthrough
A breakthrough.

There is an interesting dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali himself. This is something which I appreciated. Those who know a little about Freud’s dream theories and the ideas behind surrealism will find the scenes especially interesting.

Spellbound Dali Dream
The dream.

The romance begins perhaps a little suddenly but hooked me nonetheless.  It is easy to root for the couple. You hope for everything to turn out well; even though everything points to the contrary. There are several moments of pure silver screen romance which are charming and sweet.

Spellbound a happy moment at the train station

Spellbound is, in my opinion, an underrated Hitchcock classic which deserves a lot more praise than it gets. True, there are aspects that are dated and many of Freud’s theories have been debunked since the film’s release. However, it is still an enjoyable thriller with an intriguing plot and an unusual romance. I urge you to check it out.

Content Note: This film is unrated and contains no sexual content, profanity or violence.

Photo Credit: United Artists


Five Corset Rating Lower Byte Size

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”


four heart rating

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

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By on April 14th, 2016

About Elinor Cackett

Elinor is a writer and semi-recent graduate of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University. She has been writing ever since she could hold a pen but her love affair with fiction started when the entirety of David Eddings’ 'The Belgariad' was read to her at age four. She currently has a couple of books and half a dozen short stories on the go. She spends her free time writing, analysing media and knitting very colourful scarves.

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