Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

The Search for Bridey Murphy

Posted on

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