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The Cobweb (1955)

Passed | | Drama | 22 November 1955 (Japan)
2:48 | Trailer
At a private psychiatric clinic, the daily dramas and interactions between the doctors, nurses, administrators, benefactors and patients are accentuated by the personal and family crises of these individuals.


Vincente Minnelli


John Paxton (screenplay), William Gibson (additional dialogue) | 1 more credit »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Widmark ... Dr. Stewart 'Mac' McIver
Lauren Bacall ... Meg Faversen Rinehart
Charles Boyer ... Dr. Douglas N. Devanal
Gloria Grahame ... Karen McIver
Lillian Gish ... Victoria Inch
John Kerr ... Steven W. Holte
Susan Strasberg ... Sue Brett
Oscar Levant ... Mr. Capp
Paul Stewart ... Dr. Otto Wolff
Jarma Lewis ... Lois Y. Demuth
Adele Jergens ... Miss Cobb
Edgar Stehli ... Mr. Holcomb
Sandy Descher ... Rosemary McIver
Bert Freed ... Abe Irwin
Mabel Albertson ... Regina Mitchell-Smyth


At an exclusive psychiatric clinic, the doctors and staff are about as crazy as the patients. The clinic head, Dr. Stewart McIver, thinks that it would be good therapy for his patients to design and make new drapes for the library. Mrs. Karen McIver, who is neglected by her hardworking husband (and a bit unbalanced herself), wants to make her mark on the clinic, so she orders new drapes. Miss Inch, the business manager, who has been with the clinic longer than anyone, sees this as an intrusion into her territory, and she too orders drapes. All this puts everyone in a dither, as they fight over drapes and clinic politics. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

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The Story of the Strange Mansion on the Hill




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Did You Know?


The opening credits are followed by the following onscreen words: "The trouble began." At the end of the film, the words "The trouble was over" appear onscreen. Some reviews observed that the film differed from the novel by having "Stewart McIver" go back to his wife, and SatRev wrote disparagingly of the "Code-dictated ending," calling it "an affront to all the decently divorced." According to pre-production HR news items, Robert Taylor was originally cast as Stewart, with Lana Turner and Grace Kelly in the lead female roles. James Dean was originally cast as troubled psychiatric patient "Steven W. Holte," but, according to modern sources, M-G-M and Warner Bros., Dean's studio, were unable to agree on a financial arrangement. According to a Nov 1954 item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column, Joanne Dru was considered for the role of "Karen McIver." News items include Marjorie Rambeau in the cast, but she was not in the final film. In their memoirs, both director Vincente Minnelli and producer John Houseman recalled that the first version of the film ran nearly two-and-a-half hours. Houseman wrote that when Minnelli refused to cut the film, he edited it himself: "When I ran it for him after hacking close to half an hour out of the film, including entire scenes that he had shot with loving care, he made a violent, lachrymose scene in the projection room, accusing me of insensitivity and treachery. I offered to let him recut the film, but he refused." Summing up the re-editing of the film in his memoir, Minnelli wrote merely, "We somehow managed to bring it down to a more manageable size." The Cobweb marked the film debut of John Kerr and Susan Strasberg, the daughter of Actors Studio head Lee Strasberg. The picture also marked Oscar Levant's last screen appearance. Minnelli wrote in his memoir that he suggested that the role of "Mr. Capp" be tailored to Levant's well-publicized psychological problems: "He would more or less be playing himself." The Cobweb was Lillian Gish's first film for M-G-M since The Wind in 1928 (AFI). See more »


When Dr. McIver goes to leave Inch's place after arguing with her, a shadow of the boom microphone is visible moving on the curtain to the right. See more »


[first lines]
Karen McIver: Can I give you a ride?
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Featured in Point Blank (1967) See more »


Presto, aus Sonate Nr. 9 A-dur, Op. 47 (Kreutzer)
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven (as L. v. Beethoven)
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User Reviews

Great Veteran Actors
13 March 2008 | by whpratt1See all my reviews

This is a very strange film about a mental institution which is operated by Dr. Stewart McIver, (Richard Widmark) and Dr. Douglas Devannal, (Charles Boyer). Stewart is married to Karen McIver, (Gloria Grahame) and they are both having marital problems, she claims he does not pay much attention to her and especially in bed. Meg Rinehart, (Lauren Bacall), is a new employee with the hospital and is divorced and has a young son. All of the staff has their own serious problems as well as trying to take care of some very serious mental patients who require a great deal of attention. It is hard to believe that the main subject in this film is about just plain simple drapes and just where to hang them and this is causing a great deal of problems with the patients and staff. Richard Widmark and Lauren Bacall gave a great performance along with the very sexy gal, Gloria Grahame. This is a very crazy film and it will keep you guessing just how this picture will ever end.

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Release Date:

22 November 1955 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cobweb See more »


Box Office


$1,976,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (TCM print) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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