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Spellbound

(1945 b 111')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A psychoanalyst falls in love and helps an amnesiac who is suspected of murdering the psychoanalyst he has impersonated.

Mary Carmichael (Rhonda Fleming) tells Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) that she hates men and gets angry. Dr. Fleurot advises Constance that she is cold and lacks emotional experience. Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll) is leaving, and Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) arrives as the new chief. Garmes (Norman Lloyd) tells Edwardes and Petersen that he feels guilty because he killed his father. Constance goes walking with Edwardes. Late at night she goes to him, and they kiss. He becomes nervous and says it is her robe. He learns that Garmes tried to kill himself and is in surgery. Edwardes becomes disturbed and says he killed Edwardes but has no memory. He leaves a note for Constance signed J. B. and goes to New York. The doctors learn that he is not Edwardes, and police question Constance about him.

Constance goes to the hotel and sits in the lobby until the house detective helps her find John's room. She says she is there as his doctor, but they kiss passionately. John (Gregory Peck) thinks he may have hid the body. She notices a burn scar on his wrist. When she sees her photo in the newspaper, they leave. At a train station he asks for tickets to Rome, but she suggests they go to Rochester. John remembers bailing out and hating the army. They go to the home of her analyst, Dr. Alex Brulov (Michael Chekhov). Police detectives ask Brulov about Edwardes, and he admits he quarreled with him. Constance tells Brulov she is married to John, and he lets them stay in a room. John is disturbed by the bed and sleeps on the couch. In the bathroom he gets upset and takes a razor downstairs. Brulov is awake and gives John some milk. Constance finds Brulov sleeping in a chair, and he says he gave John a bromide. Brulov understands she is in love, and she persuades him not to call the police yet. Brulov wakes John and tries to help him as a doctor and a father. He gets John to describe his dream. Constance says that John is upset by lines in the snow. He remembers Gabriel Valley and wants to call the police, but she wants to cure him and does not believe he murdered Edwardes.

They take a train and go skiing. John remembers how he killed his brother in a childhood accident. John recovers his memories and tells Constance. He saw Edwardes die while skiing. Lt. Cooley and Sgt. Gillespie tell John and Constance that the body of Edwardes was where John said, but they found a bullet in it and arrest John. Brulov tells Constance that it is over with her and John. Murchison welcomes Constance back and says he knew Edwardes slightly. She analyzes John's dream, and Murchison agrees he is the angry proprietor. She suspects he shot Edwardes, and he pulls out the gun and plans to kill her too. She persuades him he will not get the death penalty for killing Edwardes and walks out. Murchison shoots himself. In the final scene John and Constance go on their honeymoon.

This mystery reflects the current interest in psychoanalysis and the understanding of dreams as a key to self-knowledge. A repressed theme is that John's guilt complex caused by a childhood trauma was aggravated by his reluctantly going along with the killing in war. Thus the film noir genre of the 1940s may be a subconscious response to the massive killing in World War II.

Copyright © 2005 by Sanderson Beck

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