Ingrid Bergman was making a name for herself in Sweden throughout much of the 1930’s before heading to America in 1938 for a US remake of her 1936 Swedish film Intermezzo. One of the biggest stars of the 1940’s thanks to her ethereal beauty and talent and roles in movies such as Casablanca, Gaslight and Spellbound.
Her career hit a dip in the late 1940’s when she moved to Italy to be with married film director Roberto Rossellini, she was married with children at the time. The duo compounded the scandalous nature of their relationship by then having a child out of wedlock. They did marry as soon as they were able and had three children together, one of whom, Isabella Rossellini, became a leading actress in her own right. However the relationship had floundered by 1957 and Bergman returned to Hollywood. She continued acting but it took some years before her US standing recovered.
Here then is our pick of five of her best movies.
Perennially at the top of every all-time-greats list, and indisputably one of the landmarks of the American cinema. Bogart is an American expatriate and war profiteer in WWII Morocco, content to merely run the Café Americain until love (in the form of a luminous Bergman) returns to his life and inspires him to stand up for the French Resistance. An accidental Hollywood masterpiece, it just gets better as time goes by. Academy Award Nominations: 8, including Best Actor: Humphrey Bogart; Best Supporting Actor: Claude Rains; Best Cinematography.
Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, S.Z. Sakall, Conrad Veidt
Director George Cukor captures the smoky, smoggy feel of Victorian London for this atmospheric mystery. The husband of innocent new bride Bergman may have a dark past, and he may be trying to drive her insane to get his hands on her family’s jewels. Angela Lansbury’s film debut. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Picture; Best Actor: Charles Boyer; Best Supporting Actress: Angela Lansbury; Best Screenplay; Best Cinematography.
Director: George Cukor
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, Angela Lansbury
Hitchcock’s psychological mystery makes engrossing use of the contemporary fascination with Freudian analysis. It stars Bergman as a coolly intellectual analyst who grows to suspect that the new director of the institute (Gregory Peck) is not who he claims to be. As a bond of love grows between the two, Bergman is torn between her rational fear that Peck may be the murderer of the director they were expecting, and her heart telling her that he’s an innocent man suffering an emotional trauma. As her love opens mental doors for Peck, the experience brings warmth to Bergman’s character. The typical mystery-story chase sequence is here a search for clues in Peck’s psyche. The production began with producer Selznick’s interest in analysis. It features famous set pieces depicting Peck’s mental state, including a dream sequence designed by surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. The sequence (Dali created material for 22 minutes, nearly all of it cut) was directed by an uncredited William Cameron Menzies. Hitch experimented with a sudden flash of color in this otherwise black-and-white film. The single red frame appears in Leo G. Carroll’s final scene at the end of the film. Academy Award Nominations: 6, including Best Picture; Best Director.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Leo G. Carroll, Rhonda Fleming, Steven Geray,
In one of the most stylish works by the master of suspense, American agent Cary Grant gets the assignment to watch international playgirl Bergman, whose father is a Nazi sympathizer. He soon realizes she abhors his beliefs and they begin to work in tandem, an assignment that means she must marry Nazi agent Rains in Rio despite their mutual attraction. When Rains becomes suspicious of Bergman, he begins slowly poisoning her, and Grant comes to the rescue. The intricate plot revolves around Rains’s hoard of uranium, a top-secret material at the time, and a plot point that earned writer Hecht and Hitch an F.B.I. tail during production. This also features one of Hitchcock’s greatest shots, the descending crane shot from the top of a grand staircase to the key to Rains’s wine cellar held tight in Bergman’s hand. Academy Award Nominations: Best Original Screenplay; Best Supporting Actor: Claude Rains.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Louis Calhern, Moroni Olsen, Claude Rains, Reinhold Schunzel
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)
Well-done, true-life drama based on the life of an English servant girl, Gladys Aylward (Bergman), who became a missionary and led a group of children on a perilous evacuation through war-ravaged 1930’s China. Based on The Small Woman by Alan Burgess. Shot in CinemaScope and featuring Robert Donat’s final performance. His final line ever on film was pretty poignant, “We shall not see each other again, I think. Farewell.” He died before the film’s release.Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding. Academy Award Nomination for Best Director.
Director: Mark Robson
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Robert Donat