But in terms of the gap between intent and achievement, it could well be the worst of all his major pictures.
Its premise, presumptions and resolution are all insurmountably inane: Hollywood's preoccupation with Freudianism in the forties produced a lot of corn, but this must be the ripest. The plot – far more central than usual for a Hitchcock film – demands not only that the now entirely discredited assumptions of Freudian psychology be true, but also that its practitioners are semi-mystics, with the saint-like ability to see inside the minds of mere mortals, and the right to decide their fate thereafter. The scenes of Ingrid Bergman’s character in her practice at the beginning, alternately condescending and fascistic, are the most disturbing of the whole picture.
The film also wants us to accept that dream imagery has unequivocal and universal symbolic meaning, and can be interpreted like cracking a code, making its point via an elaborately constructed dream sequence (for which Salvador Dali was employed at great expense and with greater hoopla) that looks cheap and totally ineffective on screen.
Of course, it is a fiction, an entertainment, and we need not take any of it as seriously as it appears to want us to. But even if you can swallow all this, the resolution is scarcely worth the effort and never in doubt anyway, since Gregory Peck can no more be a murderer than Cary Grant in Suspicion. Bergman is as typically charming as her obnoxious character allows, but the romance between the two is colourless and unconvincing, especially in comparison with the fireworks she ignited with Cary Grant in Notorious the following year, a vastly superior film in every conceivable way.
This, despite moments of suspense, is fatally silly, with too much obvious interference from the producer, here at his most maddeningly indecisive and over-emphatic, and not nearly enough cool-headed cynicism from its director.