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 <>

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The Story of the Strange Mansion on the Hill




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Did You Know?


Lauren Bacall and Richard Widmark appeared together again in 'Murder on the Orient Express' (1974, dir. Sidney Lumet). 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 The Empty Screen or the Metaphysics of Movies (2017) See more »


Aufforderung zun Tanz
Written by Carl Maria von Weber (as Carl Maria v. Weber)
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User Reviews

NOT One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
8 January 2015 | by bob998See all my reviews

In the 1950's, Vincente Minnelli was making some of the strongest films in Hollywood. Pictures like Some Came Running and The Bad and the Beautiful were very strong and probing studies of American life; The Cobweb deserves to be considered alongside these great films. The tranquil world of a psychiatric clinic in the Midwest countryside (somehow I can see cows in the fields even though there aren't any) is disrupted by a power struggle between two strong-willed men: Dr McIver, a young man whose first important post this is, and Dr Devanal, who has spent more than 20 years at the clinic and seems to be burnt-out. A stiff-necked spinster, Victoria Inch, whose father had created the clinic does everything she can to aggravate the principals. The clash between old settled practices and innovative new ones is the subject of the film.

People fret about the drapes--well really they're only the trigger for the clash. I have the strong feeling that by leaving Chicago to settle in this back-water, McIver has made a mountain of trouble for himself. His wife Karen (splendid performance by Gloria Grahame) is experiencing severe boredom and frustration; she's a sensual romantic woman who is being ignored by her husband, who is trying to find romance with Meg Rinehart (a cool Lauren Bacall). The romantic disappointments of the main characters make this film work.

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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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