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  • Spellbound

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on November 5th, 2002

    (out of 5)



    Ingrid Bergman is a psychoanalyst and, according to her male colleagues, a cold fish. Thischanges when Gregory Peck shows up as the new head of the psychiatric institution. The onlyproblem is, Peck is not who he says he is. In fact, he doesn’t even know who he really is.Bergman is determined to help him find out, but meanwhile, the man whose identity Peck hasassumed is missing, perhaps murdered… The psychoanalysis in the film is pure hokum, and theplot’s contrivances are …erhaps a bit convenient. But Bergman and Peck are terrific, and the Dalidream sequence is as unusual a sight in a Hitchcock film as you could hope for.


    The sound is in the original mono (no monkeying around with newly created stereo here). Itsounds fine. Criterion has restored the Overture and Exit music as well. These cues are fine, butaren’t quite as crisp as the rest of the soundtrack.


    The print is in good, but not perfect condition. There is some damage in the form of faintvertical lines in the early goings, and some visible grain as well. The picture does improve, andwhen it is good, it is very, very good. The format is the original 1.33:1.

    Special Features

    Here is where Criterion has really gone to town. It has often been said that DVDs at their bestare film courses on a disc, and that is absolutely true here. Even the liner notes take the form ofan extended booklet complete with two solid essays: “Hitchcock and Selznick” by Leonard Leff,and “The Hitchcock Romance” by Lesley Brill. The commentary is by Hitchcock scholar MarianKeane. Though she does sometimes describe what is happening on the screen a bit too much, forthe most part her discussion is scholarly, clear, and packed with fascinating information andinsights. James Bigwood provides a similarly informative, illustrated essay on the dreamsequence with “A Nightmare Ordered by Telephone.” And there’s more: extensive productioncorrespondence (right down to the letter from the Production Code demanding various screenplayalterations); a stills gallery divided into promotion, publicity, behind-the-scenes and set pictures;a whole set of features on the theremin, including an interview with composer Miklos Rozma, alist of theremin resources, and segment on the theremin from a radio program (“The FishkoFiles); the theatrical trailer; and the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Spellbound, starringJoseph Cotten and Alida Valli, and including all the original ads. Could you possibly ask formore? The menu has an animated and scored main page. My one gripe: the disc is very slow torespond to menu commands.

    Closing Thoughts

    Though the materials apparently prevent this from being a perfectly pristine transfer ofSpellbound, the abundant features more than make up for this. A must for Hitchcock fans.

    Special Features List

    • Commentary
    • Trailers
    • Photo Gallery
    • Production Correspondence
    • Lux Radio Theatre Adaptation
    • Interview with Miklos Rozsa
    • The Fishko Files: The Theremin
    • Theremin Resources
    • “A Nightmare Ordered by Telephone” Illustrated Essay
    • “Hitchcock and Selznick” Printed Essay
    • “The Hitchcock Romance” Printed Essay
    Posted In: 1.33:1 Fullscreen, Criterion, Criterion Collection, Disc Reviews, DVD, English Mono, Suspense / Thriller

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