Thursday, March 24, 2005

“The mind isn’t everything.”

The Movie: Spellbound, 1945 (Ben Hecht, screenplay, from the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes, by Francis Beeding; Alfred Hitchcock, dir.)
Who says it: Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Petersen, a psychoanalyst
The context: Dr. Petersen has fallen in love with her colleague/patient, John Ballantine (Gregory Peck)
How to use it: When smart people decide to do something foolish.

Thanks to the irrepressible Mikki Ansin for this quotation; she knows more about the movies than I ever will. I saw this movie recently for the first time, and it didn't really work for me, unless it's meant to be a comedy. Ingrid Bergman as a psychiatrist? The new head of a hospital taking a position without having met any of his colleagues? Maybe it was plausible in 1945. I liked the mushy stuff, though.

But it raised a question that's always puzzled me. How is it that, in movies of the 1930s and 1940s, people go from meeting each other to deciding to get married in the space of a few days? Was that really how it worked then, or was that just a movie-making convention of the time? Either way, it seems bound to have made for unrealistic expectations among the movie-going public.

Stories do shape our ideas of how things are supposed to happen, which is why I objected so strongly to Disney giving the Little Mermaid a happy ending. (You could argue that the Little Mermaid in Andersen's story gets a happy ending, too, but it is not an earthly one.)

I have no point here today. I just wanted to use this line, because it's clear to me today -- scattered as I am -- that there are days when my mind is worthless.

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