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Spellbound Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 118 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: MGM
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 24, 2012
  • List Price: $24.99

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Although it remains a favorite amongst many fans, Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Spellbound, a film that was once heralded for its intellectual exploration of psychoanalysis upon its release near the end of World War II, when many veterans were arriving home with troubles forcing them to seek psychiatric guidance, the film hasn’t aged well. Looking back through the lens of time, Spellbound’s thin theories on mental illness and psychoanalysis seem almost intentionally comical at times and are certainly way off base. Despite these glaring flaws, the strength of the cast, headed by Ingrid Bergman and a young Gregory Peck, and Hitchcock’s unquestionable ability to build mystery, suspense, and tension make Spellbound a more than worthy addition to his catalogue, although, perhaps, it may be just a small step down from his strongest works.

Adding to its strengths are surreal dream sequences created especially for the film by Salvador Dali, of which only a few heavily edited snippets made it into the final version. One questions the decision to bring in an artist like Dali then disregard most of the work he created, even chopping it up to the point that it lessens the impact of what could have been an even more powerful sequence, but such is the conundrum with Spellbound it is equally as frustrating as it is enjoyable.

The story at the core of the film revolves around an elite mental facility that is awaiting the arrival of their new director, but when he arrives (Peck) something seems peculiar about him. Still, resident psychiatrist Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) manages to fall in love with him anyway, despite her reservations. It isn’t long before it is discovered that the new director is actually a paranoid amnesiac with delusions of murder who is the main suspect in the killing of the real doctor. Dr. Petersen takes it upon herself to hide his real identity and help him uncover his forgotten memories while on the run from authorities, but she and her associates could be in serious danger.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Spellbound arrives on Blu-ray with a fine high definition rendering of its 1.37:1 framed black and white image from MGM. It’s obvious that, unlike a lot of the recent MGM releases, this one has been given a bit more care. The source looks relatively clean with the exception of a few unavoidable tramlines and specks of dirt that can be vaguely seen from time to time – this is film after all, and Spellbound is from the mid-40s. Otherwise, it looks incredibly film-like with natural grain, good overall detail with just a touch of softness, and only some mild flicker.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The monaural soundtrack is provided in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that is clean, with only mild hiss, no evident clipping and natural sounding dialogue. While the Oscar-winning score from Miklós Rózsa doesn’t really have the room to jump out at you like it would in a modern, 5.1 mix, it is still rather well balanced and relatively clean given the age and equipment of the era.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

There is a strong selection of extras here that offer interviews with Hitchcock, featurettes on the Dali dream sequences, and an in-depth audio commentary, among other things.

The supplements:

  • Commentary with author and film professor Thomas Schatz & film professor Charles Ramirez Berg
  • Dreaming with Scissors: Hitchcock, Surrealism and Salvador Dali (1.78:1; SD; 00:20:21) – An exploration of Salvador Dali and the dream sequences designed by the artist for Spellbound.
  • Guilt by Association: Psychoanalyzing Spellbound (1.78:1; SD; 00:19:39) – The psychological issues with WWII veterans and their influence on Spellbound.
  • A Cinderella Story: Rhonda Fleming (1.78:1; SD; 00:10:10)
  • 1948 Radio Play (00:59:47) – The Lux Radio Theatre, Original Broadcast March 8, 1948 directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Starring Joseph cotton and Valli.
  • Hitchcock Audio Interview (00:15:22) – Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Spellbound’s Blu-ray release is worthy of a Hitchcock film, even one of his weaker efforts, but, hey, even a weak Hitchcock effort is probably ten times better than a lot of the drivel that hits the cinemas these days. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B0065N6KNW[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com
Spellbound -

Purchase Spellbound on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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