Spellbound ★★★★

Full review (spoilers). Neither as dumb as certain folks say nor as smart as you want it to be, considering its pedigree. Having not seen it in almost fifteen years (!) I'd forgotten how much of the problem is in Ben Hecht's script, and I normally love Hecht. Before Vertigo had its resurgence and reevaluation in the '80s, old film books used to complain about how incomprehensible the plot was, which is a criticism I still hear occasionally but never understood -- this, on the other hand, is the real Hitchcock touchstone drowning in wild over-plotting and confusion. (Two virtually unrelated epiphanies by the same character at the climax? You got it!) And quite apart from the awkwardly inserted and phrased psychoanalysis, the character motivations are absolutely baffling; I seriously wonder how on earth Hitchcock directed Leo G. Carroll to play his part.

For an actually coherent account of this film's creation, I direct thee to Leonard Leff's excellent Hitchcock and Selznick.

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