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Of Alfred Hitchcock's earliest American films, I've always found SPELLBOUND ($25) to be one of the most visually interesting because of his decision to create the film's dream sequence based upon the imagery created by artist Salvador Dali. This sequence is certainly atypical for a David O. Selznick production, showing that the future Master of Suspense was well on his way to placing his own personal stamp on his movies. The plot of SPELLBOUND is entrenched in the world of psychoanalyses, opening at the Green Manors Mental Asylum, just as the facility is about to undergo a change in leadership. Because of his own mental collapse, Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll) is forced into retirement and is to be replaced by Dr. Edwards (Gregory Peck), a newcomer to the facility.

Ingrid Bergman portrays the supposedly cold and unapproachable Dr. Constance Peterson, who is immediately taken with the new head of Green Manors. As Constance gets closer Dr. Edwards, she quickly becomes certain that the new chief doctor isn't the man he claims to be. Through a bit of prodding, Constance uncovers that the imposter is a victim of amnesia who took on the identity of Dr. Edwards because of a psychological trauma. Constance then takes it upon herself to cure the man she has fallen in love with, so that she can find out what happed to the real Dr. Edwards. The cast of SPELLBOUND also features Michael Chekhov, Rhonda Fleming, John Emery, Norman Lloyd, Bill Goodwin, Steven Geray, Donald Curtis, Wallace Ford, Art Baker, Regis Toomey and Paul Harvey.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made SPELLBOUND available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. SPELLBOUND has been given a rewarding black and white 1080p presentation that always appears quite film-like, thanks to an ever present and wholly natural level of grain within the image. The image is usually quite crisp and nicely detailed, although the image does employ some minor diffusion, while the opticals display some minor bits of softness, including those found in the Salvador Dali imagery peppered dream sequence. Blacks are deep, while the whites appear crisp. Contrast and grayscale are quite good, with good levels of nuance being apparent in the image. The elements from which SPELLBOUND has been transferred appear relatively clean, with only modest blemishes and a few scratches being the only signs of age. Fortunately, the film’s climatic red flash has been preserved in this high definition presentation.

SPELLBOUND is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 2.0 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The lossless encode makes the most of the sound elements, with Miklós Rózsa’s Oscar winning, theremin flavored score reaping the largest benefit. Rózsa’s music comes across with more character than it has in past incarnations. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, although some of the music does retain a bit of hiss. Dialogue is always clear and easily understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with Film Historians Thomas Schatz and Charles Ramirez Berg. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Running With Scissors: Hitchcock, Surrealism And Salvador Dali (twenty one minutes), Guilt By Association: Psychoanalyzing Spellbound (twenty minutes) and A Cinderella Story: Rhonda Fleming (ten minutes). Next are Hitchcock Audio Interviews that includes discussions with fellow directors Peter Bogdanovich and François Truffaut. A 1948 Radio Play Version featuring Joseph Cotten and Valli is also provided, as is a Theatrical Trailer.

SPELLBOUND is another Hitchcock classic that his fans will want to own in high definition. The Blu-ray presentation looks great and sounds quite nice. Recommended.


Spellbound [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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