The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956)

Article #845 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2003
Posting Date: 12-5-2003
Directed by Noel Langley
Featuring Louis Hayward, Teresa Wright, Nancy Gates

A hypnotist discovers that his best subject is capable of dredging up memories of a woman who lived before she was born.

Title check: It’s pretty much a basic title for the story.

This movie is based on a (supposedly) true story that was a sensation in the fifties, and though the movie never claims anything more on a factual level than that hypnotism is a fairly powerful tool, it uses several techniques to try to give the viewer the sense of watching reenactments of real events. The end result is odd; it uses a great deal of narration (especially in the opening scenes), and the action is staged in a bare-bones fashion; the overall experience feels something like a cross between that of a radio play and a stage presentation. It’s not even afraid to be dull (some of the hypnotism sessions dwell on the mundane details of life in Ireland during the early nineteenth century), but that has the effect of making it seem a little more real; it’s a nice way to offset the fact that most of the acting and the dialogue is rather wooden. Whether it’s true or not, it did remind me of how I felt when I first watched THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, in that it tapped into that part of me that would really like to believe these things. There is something rather haunting in the concept that some veils might have been pierced here, particularly when we discover that the woman not only remembers Bridey Murphy’s life, but also her death and afterlife. Whatever its flaws, I have to admit I found this one a lot more interesting than many of the other movies of the time that were inspired by this story.


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