Beyond Cuckoo's Nest


You won't find a section in your local video store devoted to films about psychiatry, as you will for war movies and sci-fi flicks. But the battle for self or sanity makes for compelling drama, which is why psychiatry and mental illness have figured in a slew of Hollywood classics.

For those who want to take a cinematic tour of psychiatry, Entertainment Tonight film critic Leonard Maltin offers an itinerary. Here are his picks for the best films about psychiatry that most people have never seen--but should:

o Private Worlds (1935): One of the first, and still one of the best, with Claudette Colbert and Charles Boyer.

o Spellbound (1945): Alfred Hitchcock's absorbing tale of psychiatrist Ingrid Bergman trying to uncover Gregory Pecks hang-ups.

o The Snake Pit (1948): One of the first films to deal intelligently with mental breakdowns and the painstakingly slow recovery process.

o Harvey (1950): James Stewart is brilliant as a tippler whose best friend is a six-foot invisible rabbit.

o The Three Faces of Eve (1957): Joanne Woodward as a young woman with multiple personalities and three separate lives.

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o Captain Newman, M.D. (1963): Provocative, well-acted comedy-drama about a dedicated Army psychiatrist.

o Ordinary People (1980): A family deteriorates after the death of the eldest son. An intelligent, meticulously-crafted film.

o Another Woman (1988): Woody Allen's searing adult drama about a woman who shields herself from all emotions.

Apart from its quality, "Private Worlds" is notable for ignoring the stereotypes of the day. "Guys with white jackets and nets carrying someone away to the 'loony bin' were a comic staple" 60 years ago, notes Maltin, author of Movie and Video Guide 1996. "So the fact someone even attempted to do something serious about mental illness in 1935 is remarkable."

PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Bergman helping Peck in Hitchcock Spellbound.

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