10 July 2011 | secondtake
A straight forward look at a not-so-straight forward story. Wright is terrific, but...
The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956)
This isn't quite a normal narrative movie but a re-enactment of some true events surrounding hypnosis and supposed past life regression. And it's quite fascinating on some level, for the facts and the possibilities, and it's quite dull on another level, filled with narration and some repetitive scenes and a slow pace. In fact, as good as it is in some ways, it might have made a brilliant half hour short.
Not to take away from the singular performance of Teresa Wright. She's the subject and object all at once, and she makes a lot out of nothing (lying down on the couch most of the time). She makes the subtleties of "reading" have meaning, with slight differences of accent, and a tone of voice that is really convincing. The rest of the cast? Serviceable. There wasn't a huge effort put into making this movie, or making it interesting.
The one inventive aspect is some slightly cheesy cloudy scenes that are meant to be transporting the viewer through the subject's thoughts. It works fine. When it gets to the cosmos (stars), you do wish there had been some attempt to keep up with the audience. It's a congenial movie, and everyone has a terrific upper middle class attitude, which is pleasant.
Some research after the book was published and after the movie as well, has shown some problems with the facts, and some alternate reasons why the subject would be able to invent (or recall) in great detail (including the dance). A better movie might have layered some of the doubts into the apparent wonder and marvel of the actual hypnotic events.
So, actually, this isn't really recommended as a movie experience, but as a way to learn about the subject. It's certainly clear and plain speaking.