Criterion had previously released the film on DVD in an impressive special edition that this MGM Blu-ray unfortunately canít rival, but it still offers its own unique look into the filmís production.
First is an audio commentary by film professors Thomas Schatz and Charles Ramirez Berg. I donít remember Marian Keaneís commentary from the Criterion edition but considering how I usually feel about her tracks I wouldnít be surprised if I did find this one better. Still, itís not an overly engaging track surprisingly, especially when one considers we have two commentators recorded together who do manage to keep it going. I guess the main problem is they donít really cover anything we havenít heard about Hitchcock before. They talk about Hitchcockís techniques from lighting to point-of-view shots, and how heís able to make things that arenít sinister sinister. This is all well and good I guess, but I didnít get anything surprising out of it and it feels as though itís going through the motions. Thereís some interesting comments about plot structure, the dream sequence and its making, and a lot of anecdotes about the production, but this material is covered in other features on the disc. Itís fine, and at least more engaging than the commentary by Richard Schickel for MGMís Rebecca Blu-ray, but not one Iíd say is a must-listen.
Moving on to video features, and the stronger portion of this release, we first get the 20-minute featurette entitled Dreaming with Scissors: Hitchcock, Surrealism, and Salvador Dali. This piece looks extensively at the famous dream sequence in the film that was designed by Dali. It goes over Daliís early career, his collaborations with Luis BuŮuel, and then his work in Hollywood. It goes into great detail about some of the issues that arose, specifically Selznickís concerns with the sequence (it sounds like he didnít really like the sequence and only wanted Dali attached to the film for the free publicity it would bring) and it also goes over some of the deleted material, some of which was filmed but is now lost. I prefer the multimedia essay Criterion had on their disc for this sequence, which really got in-depth, but this video featurette offers a decent history of it.
Guilt By Association: Psychoanalyzing Spellbound is another 20-minute featurette which looks deeply at the films presentation of psychoanalysis and of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which the character played by Peck suffers from. I was actually surprised how in-depth this feature was and examines the disorder itself pretty thoroughly. Iíve always felt the film seemed a little silly and dated in its representation but the featurette and its participants really try to offer a defense. Iím not entirely sold but I admire the effort that went into the piece.
An odd addition though fairly charming is A Cinderella Story: Rhonda Fleming, which is a 10-minute interview with the actress who recalls, rather sweetly, how she got into film acting and her first real role in Spellbound, where she played the nymphomaniac patient Mary Carmichael (despite not knowing what a nymphomaniac was.) She then talks about her later work, like in Out of the Past and her charity work in her later years. I was actually surprised this was included but was pleased to have it. Itís a nice interview worth watching.
Making its way over from the Criterion DVD is the Lux Radio Adaptation of Spellbound from 1948, which was directed by Hitchcock and stars Joseph Cotten and (Alida) Valli in the Peck and Bergman roles respectively. Running an hour itís a fun piece, and I actually think maybe Cotten would have been a better choice for the role than Peck. Disappointingly, like how MGM presented the Rebecca radio plays on that Blu-ray, we only get a black screen after the initial credits.
MGM then includes more material from an audio interview with Hitchcock by Peter Bogdanovich. This 15-minute segment is a great little piece, with Hitchcock talking to a great extent about the dream sequence and what he wanted to accomplish with it. They talk about various filmmaking styles and what the directorís opinions on ďself-indulgentĒ directors. They also talk about some random topics including Hitchcockís distaste for eggs, especially hard-boiled eggs. The audio quality drops midway through but other than that itís a great piece.
The disc then closes with the same theatrical trailer that appeared on the now out-of-print Criterion DVD.
In the end I still think the Criterion DVDís features beats the features found on here by a bit (Criterionís felt more thorough plus they also had an audio interview with composer Miklos Rosza, a piece on the theremin, which only gets briefly mentioned in the audio commentary on this disc, and a lot of documents and memos about the filmís production) but these features still manage to offer some great, worthwhile material. 7/10