Salvador Dali Questions Our Sanity in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945)

Dali Hitch

source: United Artists

When we think of Alfred Hitchcock, there are certain qualities and buzzwords that are synonymous with his name: brilliant, genius, crazy and a multitude of others.

What happens when you pair a crazy, pedantic genius, with a hairbrained painter with a mustache? A wildly fascinating dream sequence in 1945’s Spellbound.


In 1945, the acting talents of Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck joined forces with director Alfred Hitchcock to create a rather underrated movie in Hitchcock‘s filmography.

Spellbound is a peach of a movie, combining romance and psychology with the intrigue of forgotten memory.

Bergman and Peck play psychoanalysts Constance Peterson and Anthony Edwardes, respectively.

In classic Hollywood fashion, the pair ends up breaking every professional rule in the book and inevitably have an affair.

Naturally, when you fall in bed love with someone, especially as quickly and passionately as having an affair, you enter a “honeymoon phase” where you notice every single tiny detail of your object of affection.

spellbound 2

source: United Artists

This is where Constance picks up on Anthony’s strange habits. She finds out that not only does he have a fear of parallel lines on white backgrounds, he’s also not who he claims he is. Constance deduces that he might be an imposter, based on a number of things that Anthony has told her.

From killing the real Dr. Edwardes, having bouts of amnesia, to having a guilt complex, Constance overlooks these GLARING issue to get this poor man (one she doesn’t know very well, mind you) the help he needs.

When Edwardes sneaks away from Constance’s grasp, due to fear of, well, everything – she tracks him down and attempts to use her psychoanalytic techniques on him. These methods prove to be unsuccessful, and eventually, she takes him to upstate New York, where they meet two doctors who proceed to psychoanalyze his many stray thoughts.

DALI-SPELLBOUND2

source: United Artists

In steps Salvador Dali.

In 1945, Dail moved specifically to Hollywood to work on this film. Hitchcock wanted a scene that portrays the surrealness of Edwardes’ dreams and Dali was the only artist to bring Hitch‘s madcap imagination to life.

In order to capture this, accurately and as demented as possible, Hitchcock gave Dali free reign to shape, and mold this world to his liking. This is how we get a rather, disturbing, and incredibly unsettling dream scene smack dab in the middle of the film.

Dali and Hitchcock wanted us to feel that way, they wanted us to squirm in our seats and crane our necks away from the television (or movie screen in this case.) This 3-minute sequence, unfortunately, is probably the most memorable part of the film, however, it’s almost certainly the most important scene as well.

This dream sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As an audience member, we get a feel for how “Edwardes” thinks, feels and acts. Thanks to the creativity and forward thinking of Hitchcock, and the expansive mind of Dali, we were blessed with perhaps the greatest dream sequence ever to be put on the silver screen.

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My Obsession With…Classic Westerns

The Searchers

source: Warner Bros.

The vast, dusty, open spaces of the western frontier are some of the most magnificent sights one can behold.

States like Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and countless others have all served as backdrops for film directors and actors who had dared dip their toes into the red-blooded, quintessentially American movie genre known as the classic western.

John Ford, Gary Cooper, Joel McCrea, Linda Darnell, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger, Nicholas Ray, John Huston, Micheal Curtiz and plethora of other classic Hollywood icons have, at one point or another in their careers, ventured to this extraordinary genre that heavily influenced my movie watching sensibilities.

Mackenna's Gold

source: Columbia Pictures

When I first began to submerge myself into the world of classic cinema, initially, I only watched what was comfortable to me; romance, comedies, dramas, musicals – whatever it was, I vigorously viewed them with the tenacity of a lion.

It wasn’t until I saw a rather peculiar film about a man’s rush to obtain wealth through gold, that I started to take the classic western seriously.

Mackenna’s Gold is a film, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

It broke the constraints in what it meant to be a “classic western.” With its special effects, subtly nudity, and coarse language, it left an indelible effect on me.

Starring an all-star cast of Gregory Peck, Omar Shariff, Julie Newmar, Edward G. Robinson, Ted Cassidy, Telly Savalas and Camilla Sparv, Mackenna’s Gold tells the story of a mild manner sheriff named Sam Mackenna (played by Peck) who gets kidnapped by a group of Mexican and Indian bandits (primarily played Omar Shariff, Jule Newmar and Ted Cassidy) who forced him to take them to this ‘so-called’ city of gold.

Mackenna insists that there is no ‘city of gold’ but, his pleas get met with more pistol whippings and beatings. For the rest of the film, I witnessed a cinematic spectacle that shaped the way I looked at the genre that I once loathed.

MacKennasGold

source: Columbia Pictures

There were scenes of violence, skinny dipping,g and mass canyon destruction and I utterly enjoyed every minute of it. I never knew that westerns could be this gritty and real.

Watching Mackenna’s Gold lead to an awakening to other westerns that I normally would’ve skipped over.

The Searchers, Giant, Wichita, The Naked Hills, The Unforgiven and many others I feverously poured over hoping to get the same feeling I did when I watched Mackenna’s Gold.

Luckily for me, I did.

Watching westerns make me feel free. They give me a feeling of pure spontaneity. The films I’ve watched usually involve a man just looking for a place to lay his roots and start a family. He doesn’t where he’ll start, but he knows he’ll start somewhere.

The beauty of the unknown, It gives me a thrill. Just imagine moving to a small, dusty town where the people are (relatively) friendly and the resources are abundant. The world is your oyster in the wild west, and I have Mackenna’s Gold to thank.

thesearchers

source: Warner Bros.