Hypnosis at the Movies

I’ve been fascinated by hypnosis since I was thirteen (I’m much older now, though some would say I don’t act any older than thirteen).  A family friend dropped off, at our house, a small paperback book on hypnosis and record album that changed my life.


In 1956 Morey Bernstein wrote “The Search for Bridey Murphy”. The book, based on a series of recordings, chronicles the life of a 19th century Irish girl.  The twist is that “Bridey” is actually Virginia Tighe, a Colorado housewife, Tighe had been hypnotized.  The recordings were made in 1952.



The book became a best seller and Research Recordings released the album the same year.  Needless to say, the movie studios jumped at the chance to make a buck.


In the calendar years of 1956 and 1957 Hollywood produced, unofficially, ten movies that involved hypnosis or were directly about hypnosis.


Of course, movie studios had been making hypnosis movies for a long time. One of the earliest, in 1911, was The Juvenile Hypnotist, a comedy short about a young man who hypnotizes several people and comedy ensues.  But let’s not drift too far off the mark and focus on 1956 and 1957.  The movies, in no particular order (the colored titles are links to the trailers):


Flagpole Jitters (1956)

Spell of the Hypnotist (1956)

Nightmare (1956)

The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) 

The She-Creature (1956)

Spell of the Hypnotist / Fright (1956)

Hold That Hypnotist (1957)

The Hypnotist / Scotland Yard Dragnet (1957)

Lizzie (1957)

The Undead (1957)

The Hypnotic Eye (1959)


This may come as a surprise to some but, Hollywood has a tendency to sensationalize and exaggerate the truth.  I know, hard to believe but true. Hypnosis and hypnotism aren’t immune.

In 1956 The She-Creature made it to the big screen.

The She-Creature is a Classic “B” movie released by Golden State Productions about a hypnotist and his young and beautiful assistant whom he trances out.  While in trance the young assistant drifts off and calls forth an ancient and horrible sea creature that likes to kill.  The movie was released with the tag line:

“It can and did happen! Based on the authentic FACTS you’ve been reading about!” 



1957 Allied Artists released the 44th Bowery Boys movie, titled “Hold That Hypnotist!” In this story, the boys set out to prove a Stage Hypnotist is a fake.  In the process of attempting to prove said fakery, Sach gets regressed and then the fun begins. He battles with Black Beard (and the hypnotist) for a pirate’s treasure map.  Of course, the Boys make out in the end.


One of the many reasons I became a hypnotist was to help dispel the untruths and exaggerations fed and perpetuated by Hollywood. Even now, in 2013, I get asked questions like; “Will I be under your control?” or “What if I don’t come out?” I even get will you make me quack like a duck?”  I know you saw that one coming.


The answer to all those questions and more is…No.


I love these movies and I’ll continue to search for the really bad ones (they’re the most entertaining, in my opinion).


Since the late 1950’s, hypnosis has been recognized by the AMA as a valuable tool for change.

Hypnosis is a natural state, everyone experiences trance, every day.  We experience trance while reading, driving and yes, even when watching movies. So, grab the popcorn, cue up your favorite hypno flick and sit back and relax…