30 June 2015

Ingrid Bergman

We're in Italy at the 29th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna. One of the sections is about ‘Sweden's illustrious gift to Hollywood’, Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982). In the 1940s, the fresh and naturally beautiful actress won three times the Oscar, twice the Emmy, and once the Tony Award for Best Actress. Little known is that before she went to Hollywood she already had a European film career. This morning I am gonna see one of her early successes, En kvinnas Ansikte (Gustav Molander, 1938), which was remade in Hollywood as A Woman's Face (George Cukor, 1941) with Joan Crawford in the Bergman role.

Ingrid Bergman
Vintage postcard by PE, no. 595. Photo: RKO Radio Pictures.

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard by DRC/MEPA. Photo: MGM.

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard, no. 3320. Photo: MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc (1948)
Italian postcard, no. 3161. Photo: R.K.O. Radio Pictures. Publicity still for Joan of Arc (Victor Fleming, 1948).

Summer Break

Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1915 to a Swedish father and a German mother.

At age 17, she had a taste of acting when she played an uncredited role of a girl standing in line in the Swedish film Landskamp (Gunnar Skoglund, 1932). The next year she was accepted to the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, but she soon decided that stage acting was not for her.

During her first summer break, she was hired at a Swedish film studio to work in film full time. Her first film part was in Munkbrogreven/The Count of the Old Town (Edvin Adolphson, 1935), where she had a speaking part as Elsa Edlund.

The following years she made a dozen films in Sweden that established her as a class actress. Among them were Bränningar/The Surf (Ivar Johansson, 1935) and Dollar (Gustaf Mollander, 1938).

Another film, En kvinnas ansikte (Gustaf Molander, 1938) would later be remade as A Woman's Face with Joan Crawford. Bergman also made a film in Germany, Die Vier Gesellen/The Four Companions (Carl Froelich, 1938).

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard.

Ingrid Bergman
Italian postcard by Casa Edite Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze. Photo: RKO.

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard by S. & v. H., A. Photo: M.P.E.A.

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard by J. Sleding N.V., Amsterdam, no. 102/1250.


Ingrid Bergman's breakthrough film was Intermezzo (Gustaf Molander, 1936), in which she played a pianist who has a love affair with a celebrated and married violinist, played by Gösta Ekman.

Hollywood producer David O. Selznick saw it and sent a representative from MGM to gain the rights to the story and have the actress signed to a contract. Ingrid went to California and starred in MGM's remake Intermezzo: A Love Story (Gregory Ratoff, 1939), reprising her original role.

The film was a hit and so was Ingrid. Her beauty was unlike anything the movie industry had seen before and her acting was superb. She was under contract to go back to Sweden to film Juninatten/A Night in June (Per Lindberg, 1940).

Back in the US she appeared in three films, all well-received. In 1942 she played in only one film, but that film, Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942), would make her a huge star. Bergman chose her roles well after Casablanca.

In 1943 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (Sam Wood, 1943), the only film she made that year. The critics and public didn't forget her when she made Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944) the following year - her role as the persecuted wife of Charles Boyer got her the Oscar for Best Actress.

In 1945 Ingrid played in Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945) with Gregory Peck, Saratoga Trunk (Sam Wood, 1945) and The Bells of St. Mary's (Leo McCarey, 1945), for which she received her third Oscar nomination for her part as Sister Benedict.

Ingrid Bergman
Italian postcard by Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 2045. Photo: Warner Bros.

Ingrid Bergman
Big Belgian card by Chocolaterie Clovis, Pepinster. Photo: Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman
Small card. Photo: MGM. Photo: still from Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944) with Charles Boyer.

Ingrid Bergman
German postcard by Film-Postkartenverlag Hbg.-Bergedorf, no. 150. Photo: RKO. Publicity still for Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946).

Jeanne d'Arc

Ingrid Bergman also worked with Alfred Hitchcock on another classic, Notorious (1946) with Cary Grant, and the less successful Under Capricorn (1949) with Joseph Cotten.

Bergman went to Alaska during World War II in order to entertain troops. Soon after the war ended, she also went to Europe for the same purpose, where she was able to see the devastation caused by the war. It was during this time that she began a relationship with the famous photographer Robert Capa.

She made no films in 1947, but bounced back with a fourth nomination for Joan of Arc (Victor Fleming, 1948). She played the part of Jeanne d'Arc three times in her career: on stage in 1946 in Maxwell Anderson's Joan of Lorraine for which she won the Tony Award, in the film version in 1948, and in 1954 in the Italian film Giovanna d'Arco al rogo/Joan of Arc at the Stake (Roberto Rossellini, 1954), based on a 1935 dramatic oratorio by Arthur Honegger.

But in 1949 Saint Ingrid first would suffer a sudden and disastrous fall from grace.

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for For Whom the Bell Tolls (Sam Wood, 1943).

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard, no. 3161. Photo: publicity still for Joan of Arc (Victor Fleming, 1948).

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard. Photo: Paramount. Publicity still for Joan of Arc (1948).

Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc (Victor Fleming 1948)
British postcard, no. W 762. Photo: R.K.O. Publicity still for Joan of Arc (1948).


In 1949 Ingrid Bergman went to Italy to film Stromboli (1950), directed by Roberto Rossellini. She fell in love with him and got pregnant. The pregnancy caused a huge scandal in the United States. It even led to Bergman being denounced on the floor of the US Senate by Edwin C. Johnson, a Democratic senator, who referred to her as "a horrible example of womanhood and a powerful influence for evil." In addition, there was a floor vote, which resulted in her being made persona non grata.

The scandal forced Ingrid Bergman to exile herself to Italy, leaving her husband, Dr. Petter Lindström, and daughter, Pia Lindström in the United States. Dr. Lindström eventually sued for desertion and waged a custody battle for their daughter.

In 1950 Bergman married Rossellini and the same year their son, Renato Roberto, was born. In 1952 Ingrid had twins, Isotta and Isabella Rossellini. Isabella would later become an outstanding actress in her own right, as did her halfsister Pia.

From 1950 to 1955 Bergman and Rossellini made six films together: Stromboli (1950), Europa '51/No Greater Love (1952), a segment of Siamo donne/We, the Women (1953), Viaggio in Italia/Voyage in Italy (1954), La paura/Fear (1954) and Giovanna d'Arco al rogo/Joan of Arc at the Stake (1954). These films were ahead of their time but were generally not received well, especially in the US, where many conservative political and religious leaders still raised a hue and cry about her past.

Bergman also starred in Jean Renoir's Elena et les Hommes/Elena and Her Men (1956), a romantic comedy where she played a Polish princess caught in political intrigue. Although the film wasn't a success, it has since come to be regarded as one of her best performances.

Finally, after being exiled from Hollywood for seven years, Bergman returned opposite Yul Brynner in the title role in Anastasia (Anatole Litvak, 1956), which was filmed in England. For this she won her second Academy Award. She had scarcely missed a beat. The award was accepted for her by her friend Cary Grant. Bergman would not make her first post-scandal public appearance in Hollywood until the 1958 Academy Awards, when she was the presenter of the Academy Award for Best Picture. Furthermore, after being introduced by Cary Grant and walking out on stage to present, she was given a standing ovation.

In 1957 she had divorced Rosselini and in 1958 she married Lars Schmidt, a theatrical entrepreneur from a wealthy Swedish shipping family. After all the years she spent away from Hollywood, she still managed to maintain her status as a major star, as the success of films like Indiscreet (Stanley Donen, 1958) opposite Cary Grant and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Mark Robson, 1958) with Curd Jürgens showed.

Ingrid Bergman
German postcard by ISV, no. A 58. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for Anastasia (Anatole Litvak, 1956).

Ingrid Bergman
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 198. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Ingrid Bergman
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 389. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Ingrid Bergman
American postcard by Coral-Lee, Rancho Cordova, Ca., no. Personality 77.

Emmy Award

In the 1960s, Ingrid Bergman concentrated on stage work and television appearances, collaborated with her husband, theatrical producer Lars Schmidt, in such TV plays as The Turn of The Screw (John Frankenheimer, 1960) for which she won an Emmy Award, and Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life (Silvio Narrizano, 1961).

She didn't appear in as many films as she had before, but she continued to bounce between Europe and the US making films. After a long hiatus, Bergman appeared in Cactus Flower (Gene Saks, 1968), with Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn. In 1972, Senator Charles H. Percy entered an apology into the Congressional Record for the attack made on Bergman 22 years earlier by Edwin C. Johnson.

Bergman won her third Academy Award for her role as Greta Ohlsson in Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet, 1974). Her performance is contained in a single scene: her interrogation by Poirot, captured in a single continuous take, nearly five minutes long. By 1975 Ingrid Bergman was divorced again.

In her final big-screen performance in Höstsonaten/Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman, 1978) she had her seventh Academy Award nomination. Bergman plays in this film a celebrity pianist who returns to Sweden to visit her neglected daughter, played by Liv Ullmann. Though she didn't win the Oscar, many felt it was the best performance of her career.

Ingrid Bergman
Dutch postcard by REB. Publicity still for Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945).

Ingrid Bergman
French postcard by Editions P.I. Paris, no. FK 1585. Photo: Lars Looschen.

Ingrid Bergman
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto. Photo: Joe Niczky, Munich.

Ingrid Bergman
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

As Time Goes By

In the late 1970s Ingrid Bergman first discovered the symptoms of cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Her last role was in the television film A Woman Called Golda (Alan Gibson, 1982), about the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.

Ingrid Bergman died in 1982, in London, the day after having a small party with a few friends for her 67th birthday. At her burial a single violin played the song As Time Goes By, the theme from Casablanca, recalling her most famous role, that of Ilsa Lund.

That year her daughter, Pia Lindström accepted the Emmy Award as Best Actress that Ingrid won posthumously for A Woman Called Golda.

Seventeen years later, in 1999, she was ranked #4 in the American Film Institute's list of greatest female screen legends. Later she was ranked #5 in Premiere's list of 'The 50 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time'. Ingrid Bergman continues to be a cultural icon - for her films and for her innocent, natural beauty.

Ingrid Bergman in a scene from Die Vier Gesellen (1938). Source: Herweniel (YouTube). Sorry, no subtitles.

Scenes from Notorious (1946). Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Source: MovieMusic (YouTube).

Scene from Elena et les Hommes (1956) with Mel Ferrer. Source: Anmili (YouTube).

Sources: Denny Jackson, Naim81 and Ezio Flavio de Freitas (IMDb), Wikipedia, Hitchcock.tv and IMDb.

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