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
Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess
What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.
Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.
Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.
Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.
Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?
Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.
Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife
Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.
Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.
Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.
Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.
Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.
What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.
Famous guest stars?
The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.
Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.
Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.
Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.
The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.
Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.
Classic TV Revisited: The Royal
The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.
The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.
Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.
Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.
Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”
A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.
First broadcast: 2003
Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden
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