Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Ingrid Bergman's centenary

Its Ingid Bergman's centenary - she was born on 29 August 1915, and died on the same date in 1982 (that year Grace Kelly and Romy Schneider also died). We like Ingrid a lot here at the Projector, she is one of our essential actresses, and we were lucky in London to get to see her several times.  I saw her in two plays (A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY in 1966, and CAPTAIN BRASSBOUND'S CONVERSION in 1971 which also featured Kenneth Williams), we got to meet her twice at stage doors (during my early 20s autograph-hunting years) where she was very pleasant, and also at the BFI National Film Theatre some years later where she attended a screening of CASABLANCA and was very friendly with people near me, and she told us all about how confusing making the film was, as they did not have a proper ending. 

We forget though that Ingrid, like Sophia Loren in early 50s Italy, was already making films before Hollywood came calling. Selznick re-made her INTERMEZZO in 1939, and George Cukor re-made her 1938 A WOMAN'S FACE, very effectively with Joan Crawford. I have not seen Ingrid's version but this clip shows how expressive she is here 4 years before CASABLANCA.
We have seen most of Ingrid's films over the years, some several times - but not seen THE VISIT in 1964 and the supposedly awful A WALK IN THE SPRING RAIN in 1969, that that Minnelli A MATTER OF TIME in 1976. So what are our favourite Ingrids? 

CASABLANCA of course, she is also marvellous as the prostitute in DR JECKYLL & MR HYDE, plus SARATOGA TRUNK (her second with Coop), the two Hitchcocks SPELLBOUND and especially NOTORIOUS. The 1949 UNDER CAPRICORN is a bit of a slog but Jack Cardiff makes her look marvellous in it. Ingrid was too popular in the mid-40s (after FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and her first Oscar for GASLIGHT): her delightful nun in BELLS OF ST MARY'S was also a monster smash (a popular joke at the time went: "hey, today I saw a picture without Ingrid Bergman in it") - so when the Rossellini scandal broke it was major news. 

Her Rossellini era has been re-evaluated now - nobody got to see them much at the time - but JOURNEY TO ITALY is a key movie now, anticipating the Antonioni era of fashionable alienation, and figures in landscapes. STROMBOLI , EUROPA 51 and her comic segment in SIAME DONNE are all fascinating now too. 
I do not care for ANASTASIA which brought her back to the Hollywood fold, but THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS, where she is really all wrong for the role, is a well-crafted tear-jerker, and INDISCREET, back with Cary, is still a treat. Her droll sense of humour is to the fore too her her segment of THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE, and she walks away with CACTUS FLOWER in 1969 where her starchy dental nurse undergoes such a makeover. Another one we like a lot is the 1961 GOODBYE AGAIN, from Sagan, where she and Tony Perkins are marvellous driving around Paris, and its bittersweet mix is just right. She also did a HEDDA GABLER for the BBC in 1965 (now on dvd), with Redgrave, Richardson and Trevor Howard. 

Ingrid finished off with Ingmar Bergman's AUTUMN SONATA in 1977, a key movie for me, as per other comments here - she and Liv Ullmann provide a masterclass in acting with that scene at the piano .... and her last role, when already ill, was as Golda Meir in a superior telefilm GOLDA - Ingrid as Golda seems an odd choice but it works. Her autobiography is very revealing on its making (as it is on her life and romances) - she knew it was her last time in front of the cameras for that final scene, just like she wrote about her last night in the theatre (at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket). Her very funny turn as the missionary in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is a joy too. I now have another Ingrid to watch: her ELENA ET LES HOMMES for Renoir in 1955. It should be a treat.  
More Ingrid at label - including with her pal Dirk Bogarde, and that 2015 Cannes Festival Poster.


  1. Hard to believe now but in my misspent youth I didn't like Ingrid and then I saw CACTUS FLOWER and revisited her work and now she is in my top 5 all-time favourite and great actresses.

  2. I love Ingrid as well, TCM included her in their Summer Under the Stars lineup this month so there was a full day of her films on offer and I was able to fill in most but not all the gaps in my viewing of her filmography.

    Unfortunately they didn't show any of her early Swedish films not sure what's available though I'd be interested to see June Night and A Woman's Face. I have seen most of her Hollywood output both pre and post Rossellini but was missing the films with him all of which they showed except the episodic Siame Donne. I really liked Fear. Europa '51 and Journey to Italy were interesting but Stromboli was awful. They also showed the obscure From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler which was very 60's era Disney lite akin to The Moonspinners and its ilk.

    A Walk in the Spring Rain wasn't dreadful but would have benefited from a different leading man than Anthony Quinn who made zero sense in the setting. It has some beautiful scenery and a terrific performance from Ingrid, who looks wonderful, but its a one time view, at least it was for me. Like you I'm missing the elusive The Visit and A Matter of Time, which I understand is just terrible but for completeness sake I'd still like to see.

    I have so many favorites amongst her filmography but I suppose my top five would be Casablanca, Cactus Flower, Notorious, The Belles of St. Mary's and my personal favorite of them all, Indiscreet. She's brilliant in Autumn Sonata but the film is something to be appreciated more than liked.

    1. Nice comments - I was blown away by AUTUMN SONATA and the time, but its hardly one I would want to re-visit, though I have the dvd. Her episode of SIAME DONNE is fun, just a joke - its Ingrid versus a chicken who keeps coming into her garden and destroying her flowers.

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