There are a ton of scenes in Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound that take place alongside bookshelves, mostly right here in this office of Dr. Constance Petersen (have you ever heard a more outwardly sexually repressed name than that?), played by Ingrid Bergman with her hair as tightly wound up as her character. But how could you go wrong with the scene where the crazed nymphomaniac throws the book at her? You couldn't.
I was hoping that I'd rediscover Spellbound as an unsung great of Hitch's when I saw it screened at MoMA last week - i hadn't seen it in twenty years, give or take - but it's still to my eye not a great movie, unfortunately. It has it's moments, as anything Hitch did always does - Gregory Peck rubbing his phallic butter-knife back and forth over the symbolic vagina Bergman drew on the tablecloth (seen above) being a highlight. But the film takes it upon itself to explain Psychiatry itself in thunderingly obvious ways most of the time - the movie's too chatty when it should be...
... way way way more Dali dream sequences. But the movie's not quite as bad as I remembered it being either - there is a lot of Hitch's patented perversion seeping through its cracks that I must have missed watching it in college the first (and last) time around. The movie's sexual politics are desperately dated (so many jokes where women being nuts is the punchline) but as a time-capsule of the place where Freud was only just entering the mainstream it's pretty fascinating. Oh and it was shot in my hometown of Rochester!