The head of the Green Manors mental asylum Dr. Murchison is retiring to be replaced by Dr. Edwardes, a famous psychiatrist. Edwardes arrives and is immediately attracted to the beautiful but cold Dr. Constance Petersen. However, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Edwardes is in fact a paranoid amnesiac impostor. He goes on the run with Constance who tries to help his condition and solve the mystery of what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
A world in which Freudian psycho-analysis works as it's supposed to is rather like a world in which magic works - so call this film a fantasy. There's nothing whatever wrong with fantasy. Indeed, there's nothing better. Hitchcock announces at the very beginning that the story takes place in a Freudian world; thereafter he plays perfectly fair with us.
He even chose the right collaborators for a fantasy. The dream sequences were designed by Salvador Dali. (Anyone whose dreams really do look like Dali paintings maybe COULD do with some psycho-analysis.) They're not frightening - dream sequences rarely are - but they are at any rate more interesting than the usual dreams we might have or hear about. The music was by Miklós Rózsa, maybe the best of the composers who settled in Hollywood, certainly the most vividly overpowering. He was exactly the right choice for this film - however much Hitchcock disliked the score, or said that he did.
The story follows a confused Gregory Peck, who cannot remember key episodes of his recent (and not so recent) past, and who may, just possibly, be a dangerous criminal. Ingrid Bergman is a second-generation disciple of Freud who despite her professional caution finds herself falling in love with him. Perhaps it sounds cardboard already, but the performances invest the characters with more life than my descriptions did. Peck in particular is highly sympathetic. He comes across as not at all mad, not even mentally disturbed - just a man who can't remember one or two things and has an odd aversion to things like parallel lines. (That?s right - parallel lines.) Anyway, as I said, it's a fantasy: the forces of psychoanalysis must unravel the mystery before it's too late. (Why there's a "too late" is too complicated to go into.) The usual kind of Hitchcock suspense isn't there but the man WAS capable of moving outside his home genre now and then. Remember, his other fantasy was "The Birds".
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