Many of you have seen Hitchcock’s Spellbound — if you hain’t yet, you surely should. If you have, though, you’ll probably remember it as “not Hitchcock’s best,” and not without reason. Many of the ideas it dwells on have lost their initial freshness and faded to mere cliches of the profession of psychoanalysis. It’s fine in fun, but it’s a shame to see Salvador Dali’s legitimately creepy sets and art tied to such an ideological boat anchor! Check out this montage, especially the end, with Peck’s character fleeing down a gravity-defying geometric slope with a bird’s shadow following him:
What I love about this film isn’t the film itself, but the soundtrack. Miklós Rózsa composed film scores prolifically, and most of them are trash. This one is different. The Spellbound Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is a mercurial wonder, grossly underrepresented in the film, and features a rare “serious” use of the Theremin as part of the orchestra (it’s so non-gimmicky that it takes a while to realize that’s what you’re listening to!).
I know of at least one major contemporary orchestral reproduction (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLhVAP4tjmc) of the Concerto. This version is very faithful to the Leonard Pennario version originally recorded in the late 40s and may actually be better in some ways — the brass is lusher and less stoccato, the tempo a bit more dynamic. That said, the theremin is missing!
This is the version I grew up listening to.
It was a regular “skate night” favorite because of its dramatic structure. I suspect that, between the loud music and the sound of two pairs of roller skates trying to grind through the attic floor, my mother probably dove into the basement as though it were a bomb shelter — we must have been loud. I am not sorry in the least =)