This psychological thriller opens with an intriguing Shakespeare quote: “The Fault … is Not in Our Stars, But in Ourselves …,” which may be one of the most interesting ways to begin a story that takes place (by and large) in a mental asylum.
However, this film is nothing like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It is, in fact, an exploration of how psychoanalysis can help the mentally ill.
As Dr. Constance Peterson, Ingrid Bergman plays the icy brunette (rather than blonde) woman, who happens to be a psychoanalyst at Green Manors, a mental hospital saddled with a name like that of a soap opera.
When the hospitals head physician (played by Leo G. Carroll) must retire due to health issues, he’s replaced by the amazingly young (and hot) Dr. Anthony Edwardes (played by the young and hot Gregory Peck).
Things take a turn, however, when Edwardes turns out to be … someone else entirely, i.e., an imposter. Then, he tells Peterson that he … well … kind of killed Edwardes and took his place, but that he has amnesia so he can’t remember who he really is. After that, he runs off, leaving a note for her.
So, anyway, Peterson believes this cock-and-bull story she can help Edwardes and tracks him down, so she can try to restore his memory through psychoanalysis. This involves Edwardes recounting a dream full of symbolic images designed by Salvador Dali.
To wrap this up, without telling you everything, let’s just say that, like the best of films, things reach a point of ultimate crisis only to work out satisfactorily in the end.
Despite the somewhat dubious reasons why Peterson should believe Edwardes (whose real name turns out to be Ballantyne—with a “y”), it serves as a demonstration of the way their relationship “warms her up” (so to speak). Thus, she overcomes her own problems with intimacy.
It helps immensely that the two leads share very real chemistry. In fact, Peck and Bergman had a brief affair during the filming. The warmth of their relationship shines through in their acting.
That relationship adds something above and beyond the suspense over who Edwardes actually is, whether he committed murder, and how it will all work out in the end. That and those Salvador Dali dream sequences.
This is a unique Hitchcock film, in that it explores character transformation and the benefits of psychology, rather than delving into the darker side of the subject.
I’m giving this movie two thumbs up!
PS: I totally neglected to mention that I’ve been blogging here for two years! 🙂