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Ingrid Bergman Movies: From Moody 'Gaslight' to Classy 'Autumn Sonata'

Ingrid BergmanIngrid Bergman ca. early 1940s.

Ingrid Bergman movies on TCM: From the artificial 'Gaslight' to the magisterial 'Autumn Sonata'

Two days ago, Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” series highlighted the film career of Greta Garbo. Today, Aug. 28, '15, TCM is focusing on another Swedish actress, three-time Academy Award winner Ingrid Bergman, who would have turned 100 years old tomorrow.

TCM has already aired most of Bergman's Hollywood films, and at least some of her Swedish and Italian works. As a result, today's only premiere is Fielder Cook's little-seen and little-remembered From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973), about two bored kids (Sally Prager, Johnny Doran) who run away from home and end up at New York City's Metropolitan Museum. Obviously, this is no Night at the Museum – and that's a major plus. Bergman plays an elderly art lover who takes an interest in them; her presence alone should suffice to make this comedy-drama a must-see.

'Autumn Sonata'

This afternoon, TCM is presenting the Ingrid Bergman-Ingmar Bergman combo Autumn Sonata (1978), one of the director's finest and most accessible works. Bergman plays a successful concert pianist, Charlotte, who comes to visit her shy, long-neglected middle-aged daughter Eva (Liv Ullmann). Once there, long-dormant resentment rises to the surface.

Shredding every bit of Hollywood artifice from her performance, Ingrid Bergman proves that she could be a truly phenomenal actress – one matched each step of the harrowing way by Bergman's muse Liv Ullmann. Actress Bergman was shortlisted for that year's Best Actress Academy Award; Ullmann, previously nominated for Jan Troell's The Emigrants (1972) and director Bergman's Face to Face (1976), was criminally bypassed. The winner that year was Jane Fonda for Hal Ashby's more mainstream-friendly Coming Home.

Also worth mentioning is that Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann's daughter Linn Ullmann, now a well-regarded author and journalist, plays Eva as a child in Autumn Sonata.

'Casablanca'

There isn't much to say about Michael Curtiz's Casablanca that hasn't been said before. One of the most iconic Hollywood movies ever made, this 1942 release (in New York City) took home the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards at the 1944 ceremony (the film was released in Los Angeles in 1943).

Is it that good? To each their own, but even if you find the plot about a Noble American saving the lives and marriage of distraught Europeans more than a tad hackneyed, and the Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman-Paul Henreid love triangle less than electrifying, there are always scene-stealers Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt, in addition to Arthur Edeson's superb black-and-white cinematography.

And I guess I must be one of the few who lament the fact that neither Hedy Lamarr nor Ann Sheridan (that was to have been a whole different movie) got to play the leading lady role in this one.

Ingrid Bergman Gaslight Charles BoyerIngrid Bergman in 'Gaslight' with Charles Boyer.

'Gaslight'

Ingrid Bergman won her first Best Actress Oscar for George Cukor's psychological thriller Gaslight (1944), in which suave Charles Boyer tries to drive his naive – and wealthy – wife (Bergman) totally nuts. The film looks great, but the two leads are all Hollywood; the best performances are in the periphery: newcomer and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Angela Lansbury, Barbara Everest, and shameless scene stealer Dame May Whitty.

I've yet to see the original, British-made Gaslight / The Murder in Thornton Square (1940), directed by Thorold Dickinson, and starring Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook. It's supposed to be the superior film. A 21st century remake was announced a few years ago, but that has yet come to pass.

'Europa '51'

Europa '51 (1952) is one of a handful of Ingrid Bergman-Roberto Rossellini collaborations that failed to find much of an international audience. Ostracized in the United States, Bergman's Hollywood stardom came to an abrupt halt after it was discovered that the married actress who had played a sexually naive Spanish rebel in For Whom the Bells Toll (“where do the noses go?”) and a playful nun in The Bells of St. Mary's was pregnant with the child of her Stromboli director – the equally married Rossellini (at the time also the lover of Anna Magnani).

Europa '51 was their first joint effort after the Stromboli to-do. Bergman plays the troubled, unfulfilled wife of ambassador Alexander Knox (Best Actor Oscar nominee for Wilson, 1944). Following the death of their son, she decides to be more charitable to those around her; one of her first kind deeds is to hide a fugitive from the law. As a consequence, she ends up being arrested herself. And this is only part of the story.

'Rage in Heaven'

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, a.k.a. One Take Woody, Rage in Heaven (1941) provides Robert Montgomery with another opportunity to play a mentally unbalanced character. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's favorite goofy playboy had previously been cast against type in Richard Thorpe's Night Must Fall (1937), which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

In Rage in Heaven, Ingrid Bergman plays Montgomery's wife, who stands by her husband as he goes increasingly off kilter. Screenplay co-written by Christopher Isherwood.

Ingrid Bergman Saratoga Trunk Flora RobsonIngrid Bergman in 'Saratoga Trunk,' with Flora Robson and Gary Cooper.

'Gone with the Wind' redux 'Saratoga Trunk'

Based on a novel by Edna Ferber (Cimarron, Giant), Sam Wood's Saratoga Trunk (1946) was one of the biggest box office hits of the 1940s. A Gone with the Wind redux, this soap opera about a wilful, vindictive (sort of) Southern belle – more specifically, a Creole woman who may have some African ancestry – would have been hilarious were it not so tedious.

Texan gambler Gary Cooper is Bergman's ill-at-ease leading man, while a brown-faced Flora Robson received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod for playing her mulatto servant, Angelique Buiton. An embarrassing performance by this widely admired actress, in which the make-up job is the least of the problems with her characterization.

Equally embarrassing is a black-haired Bergman's version of Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara; probably one of the most egregious cases of miscasting in Hollywood history.

Censors were outraged by the risqué goings-on on screen. The moviegoing public, however, apparently gobbled it all up.

'Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words'

Ingrid Bergman died on her 67th birthday, on Aug. 29, 1982. Autumn Sonata turned out to be her big-screen swan song; on TV, she would also be seen as Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the miniseries A Woman Called Golda (1982), which earned her both a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award.

On Nov. 13, '15, Rialto Pictures will release in the U.S. Stig Björkman's documentary Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words, which received a Special Mention at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival's Golden Eye sidebar. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. actress Alicia Vikander provides Bergman voice.

Additionally, the documentary features Bergman's children, including Isabella Rossellini and Pia Lindström, plus Liv Ullmann and Sigourney Weaver.

Ingrid Bergman Oscars

For the record, besides Gaslight, Ingrid Bergman won Oscars for Anatole Litvak's Anastasia (1956), her – British-made, 20th Century Fox-distributed – Hollywood comeback, and, as Best Supporting Actress, for Sidney Lumet's all-star Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Her other nominations, all in the Best Actress category, were for:

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).
  • The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).
  • Joan of Arc (1948).
  • Autumn Sonata (1978).

Bergman is one of five actors to have taken home three Oscars. The others are:

  • Best Supporting Actor Walter Brennan (Come and Get It, 1936; Kentucky, 1938; The Westerner, 1940).
  • Jack Nicholson (Best Actor for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; Best Supporting Actor for Terms of Endearment, 1983; Best Actor for As Good As It Gets, 1997).
  • Meryl Streep (Best Supporting Actress for Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; Best Actress for Sophie's Choice, 1982, and The Iron Lady, 2011).
  • Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot, 1989; There Will Be Blood, 2007; Lincoln, 2012).

Katharine Hepburn is the only four-time Academy Award winner in the acting categories. Hepburn's wins as Best Actress were for:

Ingrid Bergman Autumn SonataIngrid Bergman in 'Autumn Sonata.'

Ingrid Bergman movies: TCM schedule (PT)

3:00 AM DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941). Dir.: Victor Fleming. Cast: Spencer Tracy. Ingrid Bergman. Lana Turner. B&W. 113 mins.

5:00 AM UNDER CAPRICORN (1949). Dir.: Alfred Hitchcock. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Joseph Cotten. Michael Wilding. Color. 117 mins.

7:00 AM STROMBOLI (1950). Dir.: Roberto Rossellini. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Mario Vitale. Renzo Cesana. B&W. 107 mins.

8:45 AM JOURNEY TO ITALY (1955). Dir.: Roberto Rossellini. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. George Sanders. B&W. -83 mins.

10:15 AM FEAR (1954). Dir.: Roberto Rossellini. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Mathias Wieman. Renate Mannhardt. B&W. 79 mins.

11:45 AM ELENA AND HER MEN (1956). Dir.: Jean Renoir. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Mel Ferrer. Jean Marais. Jean Richard. Juliette Greco. Dora Doll. Frédéric Duvallès. Albert Rémy. Jacques Morel. Renaud Mary. Magali Noël. Uncredited: Jean-Claude Brialy (supposedly as an extra). Sandra Milo (supposedly in a bit part). Jaque Catelain. Color. 98 mins.

1:30 PM FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER (1973). Dir.: Fielder Cook. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Sally Prager. Johnny Doran. Color. 105 mins.

3:15 PM AUTUMN SONATA (1978). Dir.: Ingmar Bergman. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Liv Ullmann. Erland Josephson. Lena Nyman. Gunnar Björnstrand. Arne Bang-Hansen. Halvar Björk. Marianne Aminoff. Georg Løkkeberg. Mimi Pollak. Linn Ullmann. Color. 94 mins. Letterbox Format.

5:00 PM CASABLANCA (1942). Dir.: Michael Curtiz. Cast: Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman. Paul Henreid. Claude Rains. Sydney Greenstreet. Peter Lorre. Conrad Veidt. S.Z. Sakall. Madeleine Lebeau. Dooley Wilson. Joy Page. John Qualen. Leonid Kinskey. Curt Bois. Uncredited: Helmut Dantine. Marcel Dalio. Monte Blue. Adrienne D'Ambricourt. Gino Corrado. George Meeker. Barry Norton. Paul Panzer. Norma Varden. Jean Del Val. Martin Garralaga. Gregory Gaye. Paul Irving. Paul Porcasi. Frank Puglia. Dewey Robinson. Georges Renavent. Dan Seymour. George Sorel. Ludwig Stössel. Leo White. B&W. 103 mins.

7:00 PM GASLIGHT (1944). Dir.: George Cukor. Cast: Charles Boyer. Ingrid Bergman. Joseph Cotten. Dame May Whitty. Angela Lansbury. Barbara Everest. Emil Rameau. Edmund Breon. Halliwell Hobbes. Tom Stevenson. Heather Thatcher. Lawrence Grossmith. Jakob Gimpel. Uncredited: Maude Fealy. Gibson Gowland. Gary Gray. Terry Moore. Tarquin Olivier. B&W. 114 mins.

9:00 PM EUROPA '51 (1951). Dir.: Roberto Rossellini. Cast: Ingrid Bergman. Alexander Knox. Ettore Giannini. Giulietta Masina. Teresa Pellati. Marcella Rovena. Tina Perna. Sandro Franchina. B&W. 110 mins.

11:00 PM RAGE IN HEAVEN (1941). Dir.: W.S. Van Dyke II. Cast: Robert Montgomery. Ingrid Bergman. George Sanders. B&W. 85 mins.

12:30 AM SARATOGA TRUNK (1945). Dir.: Sam Wood. Cast: Gary Cooper. Ingrid Bergman. Flora Robson. B&W. 135 mins.

 

Ingrid Bergman movie schedule via the TCM website.

Ingrid Bergman movies' cast info via the IMDb.

Ingrid Bergman image via the More Stars Than in the Heavens website.

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman Gaslight image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Ingrid Bergman Autumn Sonata image: ITC Entertainment.

Gary Cooper, Flora Robson, and Ingrid Bergman Saratoga Trunk image: Warner Bros, via Doctor Macro.

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