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ôSpellbound - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: MGM
Release Date:
January 24, 2012
Special Features:

See Below


Combining Hitch's fascination with Freudian symbolism, desire to work with Salvador Dali and writer Ben Hecht, "Spellbound" manages to be very entertaining even if it is a flawed Hitchcock classic. Compromise started with casting with Hitch forced to take Gregory Peck for the lead opposite his choice Ingrid Bergman. Peck does a nice job even if he is a bit stiff in the role of Dr. Edwardes--only he isn't Edwardes at all. It turns out that "John" suffers from amnesia and must rely on Dr. Constance Peterson (Berman) to discover who he is and what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes.***

Image & Sound:

"Spellbound" will leave fans of the film, well, spellbound. The film receives a handsome transfer. How does this compare to the Criterion? "Spellbound" looks sleeker in a good way with nice, consistent grain (for the most part) with the only major flaw I could detect some over use of edge enhancement (resulting in some intrusive haloing). Could this look better? Probably--the use of edge enhancement was unnecessarily heavy handed but, on the whole, it bests just about every DVD presentation I've seen of the movie.***


Bear in my that the bigger your screen, the higher resolution your monitor and the more noticeable the improved resolution/depth will be. It isn't a huge difference but it IS there (depth though is noticeable different on both small and large screens).***

"Spellbound" had a very troubled production from conflicts between Hitchcock and Selznick's consultant on the film, to butting heads over the dream sequence (which uses a lot of Dali's concepts but was actually redesigned by William Cameron Menzies at Selznick's request)which was heavily edited for the film. Selznick had a heavier hand in this Hitchcock production compared to other films from the period (with the exception of "Rebecca" which Hitchcock always stated wasn't a "Hitchcock picture" and "The Paradine Case" about which star Gregory Peck responded he'd love to see burned when asked if he could pick one film to be destroyed from his extensive filmography).***

As usual when Hitch had a conflict or couldn't quite find an angle to the material he focused his attention on certain sequences such as the last shot of the film (which briefly uses an innovative moment of color in an otherwise black and white film) and the sequence where Bergman experiences her sexual awakening.***

That isn't to say that this set doesn't have some flaws. For example the lack of a main menu is a bit annoying although not a deal breaker.***

Special Features:

We get a really good commentary track featuring Thomas Schatz and Charles Ramirez Berg both film historians with some interesting observations about the movie, it's production history and the issue that Selnick had with the dream sequence (and had the bulk of it cut unfortunately).***

We also get a featurette on Dali and Hitch's collaboration as well as Selznick's discomfort with the dream sequence.***

"Guilt By Association: Psychoanalyzing Spellbound" is a solid featurette highlighting the narrative hook of psychoanalysis and dream interpretation. Hitch was primarily interested in Freud only as a means to tell a story.***

We get a unique presentation--Hitchcock directing the radio play of "Spellbound" featuring Joseph Cotten subbing for Peck.***

We also get one of Peter Bogdanovich's Hitchcock interviews.***

There's also a good featurette on co-star Rhonda Fleming as well as the theatrical trailer in standard definition.***

Final Words:

Although it isn't a flawless classic "Spellbound" has enough of Hitch's set pieces to make this interesting and Bergman is, as always, beautiful. Hitchcock's "Spellbound" receives a nice transfer to Blu-ray courtesy of MGM and, while this isn't one of Hitch's best films, it has enough moments to make it worthwhile for Hitchcock fans.***

Is this the ultimate edition on Blu-ray? It's hard to tell because MGM and the company they've hired for the restoration done here has done a fine job on the film. It's possible that Criterion or another studio could do some additional work that might make this edition obsolete but, for now, THIS is the best showing of the film even with the occasional bit of noise, edge enhancement and other minor imperfections in the transfer.***

Recommended for Hitchcock fans.***


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