Terry Catchpole
September 20, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Search for Bridey Murphy

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
84 minutes
performer
Louis Hayward, Teresa Wright, Kenneth Tobey, Richard Anderson
director
Noel Langley
distributor
Paramount Pictures
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a B

The ”Bridey Murphy” phenomenon swept America in 1956, sparked by amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein’s published account of an ”age-regression” experiment in which Colorado housewife Virginia Tighe vividly recounted her previous existence as a 19th-century Irish maid. The story of Virginia/Bridey became front-page news and a best-seller, accompanied by goofy fads (e.g., ”come-as-you-were” parties) and vigorous debunking from the mainstream press. By the time the documentary-style Search for Bridey Murphy debuted — with Louis Hayward as Bernstein and Teresa Wright as his subject, here called Ruth Simmons — Tighe’s story was widely believed to be a fanciful embellishment of her own childhood, and the movie quickly vanished. Now on video for the first time, Hollywood’s contribution to Bridey lore is more valuable as a pop-cult time capsule than as moviemaking. With its lumbering re-creations of hypnosis sessions and primitive flashbacks, the film itself is far less interesting than its still provocative subject matter. B

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