Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Lighter Side of Ingrid Bergman

Today TCM is devoting an entire 24 hours to the incomparable Ingrid Bergman.  She is the focus today as part of the Summer Under the Stars programming and this is my contribution to the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon which is being wonderfully hosted over at Journeys on Film.

When most people think of Ingrid Bergman the first images that come to mind are usually these:

Looking passionately into Humphrey Bogart's eyes telling him she can't get on the plane in Casablanca (1942)

Trying to outwit Claude Rains with some slick key maneuvering in Notorious (1946)

Or questioning her sanity with Joseph Cotton in Gaslight (1944).

When I think of Ingrid Bergman these are the images that come to mind.  For some reason her two less dramatic and slightly silly roles have stuck with me.

Here she is cutting a rug with Walter Matthau, Goldie Hawn, and others in Cactus Flower (1969)

And navigating a relationship with Cary Grant in Indiscreet (1958)

I enjoy Ms. Bergman in these roles so much.  She is light, comical, shows broad emotions, laughs often and even dances!  She also seems a bit more human and fragile in these roles; instead of being seemingly untouchable and stoic like some of her other characters.  These roles show her well roundedness and ability as an actress.  It definitely would have been interesting if her filmography had more roles like these two.

These two movies have a great deal of similarities (other than Ms. Bergman's involvement).  They are both based on plays, both involve unconventional relationships, each film has an enjoyable dance scene, and both contain a lie that gets out of control.  I tend not to give away spoilers when I write about movies and I'm going to keep that streak alive with these two movies by not revealing too much of the plots.  Hopefully, that will encourage you to check them out for yourself.

In Cactus Flower, Bergman's character, Stephanie Dickinson, is the nurse to playboy Dentist, Dr. Julian Winston, played wonderfully by Walter Matthau.  She often goes above and beyond when it comes to her job responsibilities, but she doesn't have a social life to speak of and is extremely practical and pragmatic.

Eventually though she gets embroiled in Dr. Winston's relationship with (significantly) younger Toni, played by Goldie Hawn, and ridiculousness and hilarity ensue.  It should also be noted that this is the role that won Goldie Hawn her best supporting actress Academy Award.

This movie has a lot of heart, many funny lines and provides a great opportunity to see Ingrid Bergman try her hand and excel at light comedy.  And the dance scenes are a delightful added bonus, she invents a dance she names "The Dentist."

In Indiscreet, directed by Stanley Donen, Ingrid plays, Anna Kalman an accomplished stage actress who meets and has an immediate connection to the dashing traveling financier Phillip Adams, played by Cary Grant.

They carry on a not so discreet love affair.  Both Grant and Bergman behave like smitten young lovers.  They flirt, laugh, and have adorable phone conversations, complete with split screen that insinuates so much more.  This was done after the censors decided that having them in the same bed was too risque.

As in Cactus Flower, there is a great dance sequence.  As you can see Ingrid is extremely graceful and Cary has got some mad ups.

This role gives Ingrid a great deal to do.  There is a great sequence where she is putting together a plan to trick Cary's character.  In it she puts on a 30 second melodramatic performance.

Ingrid Bergman is often considered to be one of the best dramatic actresses and has been in beautifully romantic movies with some of the most dashing leading men, like Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, Joseph Cotton and various others.  She is often thought to be prim, proper and lacking humor; yet, in these two roles she has a chance to shows her silly side.  And I think it's a shame that these comedic/lighter roles don't always get the same attention as some of her other roles, so I'm doing my part to bring some awareness to them.

Well that does it for my views on Ingrid Bergman's less dramatic roles.  What are your favorite Ingrid Bergman performances?  Have you seen these two films?  Did you enjoy them?

I hope you check out Ingrid Bergman's movies on TCM today, check out the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon  for other great posts and that you check out these films of hers for a good laugh.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Diane. My favorite.....For Whom the Bell Tolls.