This entry is for Ginnie’s 5th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon! Make sure to check out the other posts! (This article contains slight spoilers for Intermezzo 1939)
The 1939 American remake of the original 1936 Swedish film, Intermezzo, is significant for a few different reasons. First off, it was the American screen debut of Ingrid Bergman and secondly, it swayed leading man Leslie Howard to take the role of Ashley in Gone with the Wind (David O Selznick promised Howard the title of “Producer” for Intermezzo, for playing Ashley).
Intermezzo is similar to other stories of infidelity that played out in cinema at the time. Holger (Leslie), a married man with a son and daughter, falls unexpectedly in love with a beautiful woman, Anita (Ingrid). Torn between his wife, Margit (Edna Best), and family and the woman he has a love affair with, complications arise. It gets even more layered when Anita is the piano teacher to Holger’s daughter Ann Marie (Ann Todd), making Anita’s interaction with his family unavoidable.
Even though the basic plot is as old as storytelling itself, I truly believe it’s the natural connection Leslie and Ingrid have together that makes this film unforgettable. As a viewer, you care about the happiness of Ingrid and Leslie’s characters. You want them to be together no matter the difficulties they encounter. However at the same time, I personally believe because they don’t end up together, that’s what makes this film endure. Their passion leaves you longing for them and wishing this time you watch, they’ll be together!
I find it peculiar, at the time of release, many people thought Ingrid was speaking broken English throughout the movie, unable to understand her. I think that’s absolutely a weird thought, as she’s just speaking the way she speaks. Granted she was learning English, but there’s nothing wrong with her voice, its wonderful, it’s just Ingrid!
Repeating a film role I think might have been tiring for Ingrid, given her quest to be a diverse actress always wanting different parts. Yet, on the flip side, it must have been extremely exciting for her to be making an American film. Even if she wasn’t completely content with repeating the part, she doesn’t give one inkling in her performance that this version was boring for her. Perhaps working in a new country, with new actors and crew members made an old role refreshing and exciting for her. I think that aspect is what really shines through in her acting in this film.
With Leslie Howard in a main role, as a true leading man, when I was younger I didnt see his appeal. I initially believed he was weird looking. Now watching him as I’m older, I get his appeal, as his personality and stage presence makes him a great leading man. I still don’t think he’s the most handsome, but its really the way he connects with his leading ladies and plays all types of scenes with such dignity that makes him truly amazing. With Intermezzo you really get an understanding of Leslie as a leading man, even better than you do in Gone with the Wind, as here is THE leading man, not a supporting player.
Overall, Intermezzo may be overshadowed in Ingrid’s career due to the films that were to come for her. She went on to make a boatload of iconic films, and I feel sometimes this one gets lost in the shuffle, sadly. We can look at all her performances in Hollywood, and they are so incredible, but we cant forget where her American career started, and re-watching Intermezzo should be a reminder for us all that she was already so delightful right from the get go.