Scene from The Seventh Veil
Aug 24, 2009
The Seventh Veil

Hollywood has had a bit of a fascination with movies about psychiatry. There was Hitchcock’s Spellbound, Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without A Cause, which has nothing in common, except the title, with the book by Robert M. Lindner, Bewitched (aka The Crime of Jean Ellis, and also Alter Ego), Psycho, The Cobweb, Lilith, and others.

Lindner, in Rebel Without A Cause, and in The Fifty-Minute Hour describes the use of hypnoanalysis and narcoanalysis (primarily pentothal) to cut short the time needed for analysis and re-education of psychopathic and other disorders. There’s an instance of the use of hypnosis in Bewitched, where it is used to rescue a girl with multiple personalities from the death house, but I think The Seventh Veil is the only film that I’ve seen that suggests a course of treatment using either technique.

The movie takes its title from a remark attributed to the psychoanalyst about the need for concealment of the personality. He uses the image of Salome’s dance for the head of John the Baptist. With some people we remove one or two veils, with others more, lovers might remove as many as six veils, but it is the seventh veil that the analyst has to remove.

The movie covers the breakdown and recovery of a gifted musician, played by Ann Todd. (She is shown above with co-star James Mason). Mason is her mentor, and also her tormentor. The analyst helps her recover her memory, and ultimately her love.

Mason gives a good performance, and while I don’t think Ann Todd ever achieved major stardom, she was an attractive and competent actress.

If you’re interested in psychoanalysis, this is a good movie. It’s good even if you’re not interested in analysis. Unfortunately it, and the rest of the movies that I’m talking about today, are not available on DVD, so you’ll have to catch it on TCM.