By PT Staff, published on November 1, 1995 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
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
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
o The Snake Pit (1948): One of the first films to deal
intelligently with mental breakdowns and the painstakingly slow recovery
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.
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
PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Bergman helping Peck in Hitchcock