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The Cobweb (1955)

Passed | | Drama | 22 November 1955 (Japan)
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 ... See full summary »


Vincente Minnelli


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

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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 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Story of the Strange Mansion on the Hill




Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

22 November 1955 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Verlorenen See more »


Box Office


$1,976,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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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
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Film debut of John Kerr. 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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Referenced in High Anxiety (1977) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Who's Running the Asylum?
7 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

MGM put together quite a stellar cast for The Cobweb, another film in the tradition of Private Worlds and The Snake Pit about an insane asylum and the politics of running the place. After seeing this crowd at work, I'm not sure that the patients haven't taken over the place as they did in that classic Star Trek episode.

Richard Widmark is a new psychiatrist whose new methods allow granting of more freedom of the grounds to the inmates. What Widmark's character might think today of the number of patients walking around completely free today with only our trust that they will take their medications is interesting to speculate. Anyway it puts him at odds with Charles Boyer who is the medical head of the place.

Boyer is a man beset with problems of his own of a personal nature, he's drinking and wrenching around openly, a man going through a midlife crisis and playing it out in front of everyone including all the enemies he's made. Widmark however as a former disciple of his can't quite pull the trigger to get rid of him.

And Widmark is having his own problems, a neglected wife in Gloria Grahame and a fetching Lauren Bacall to tempt him.

But the best performance of the film comes from that grand old lady of the screen, Lillian Gish. She's the civilian record keeper of the place and a politician to the max. She plays off Widmark and Boyer, in fact The Cobweb would have been a better film had she been the central character. There's also a real good performance by Olive Carey as a Ratched like nurse, Ms. O'Brien.

John Kerr, Susan Strasberg, and Oscar Levant are all inmates of the place which is a rather posh establishment for the richer brand of neurotics. You can't imagine Widmark trying his experiments in freedom on the inhabitants of The Snake Pit.

The Cobweb is a film whose parts are greater than the whole effort. It could have been a whole lot better than it was given the talent involved.

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