Intermezzo (1939)

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 Poster

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.

Intermezzo'' 1939 | Ingrid Bergman, Leslie Howard | FILM~LIEBHABER | Flickr
(flickr) Howard and Bergman- Talent in a photo

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!

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) | Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982)… | Flickr
How could they think THIS BEAUTY needed tons of make-up?

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. 

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) | Starring Leslie Howard & I… | Flickr
Ingrid was experienced but a newbie to Americans! No name above the title for her… YET!

Made for Each Other (1939)

This entry is for Movie Rob’s August Genre Grandeur: Medicine. Be sure to check out the other entries!

Made for Each Other- 1939- Poster.png

Made for Each Other may not have been happily received by audiences in 1939, but it’s one of those films that has aged nicely. Directed By John Cromwell and produced by David O Selznick, this dramedy stars Carole Lombard and James Stewart.

Upon initial release, audiences were probably shocked to find their favorite comedic actress Carole Lombard in a serious melodrama. Furthermore, James Stewart was still a new leading man, with this being one of his first parts with that title.

Made for Each Other
(TCM) Such Cuties!

The flick is similar in spirit to 1941’s Penny Serenade with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Its peculiar, as many will say they love Penny Serenade (myself included) but Made for Each Other is awkward, slow moving, and uncomfortable to watch. I whole hearted-ly disagree, as it contains a sweet sentimentality and it’s a real showcase for Carole to prove herself dramatically. Moreover, it demonstrates Jimmy Stewart has always been capable of being the leading man even in his early career.

Made for Each Other does not start off revolving around medicine, but in the end, the whole film revolves around health and the macguffin of “life saving medicine“.

It all begins very dandy- with Jane (Carole) and John Mason(James Stewart) marrying on a whim. John is a young lawyer with an unsympathetic boss (Charles Coburn), and a domineering mother (Lucile Watson). Jane is very supportive of her husband, even reluctantly giving up her honeymoon cruise due to John having a case. Soon enough the couple has a baby, John Jr, and they move in with John Sr.’s mother.

Made for Each Other (1939) Carole Lombard, James Stewart, Charles ...
Happy Family?

Naturally all sorts of problems ascend: John struggles to move up at the law firm when his co-worker, Carter (Donald Briggs), is promoted instead of him, Jane clashes with her mother-in-law, and financial burden causes stress in the marriage. But the main conflict occurs when Baby John falls ill on New Year’s Eve. To save the baby’s life, it all comes down to the plane delivery of life saving medical serum.

There is no explanation of the serum will do, what it made of or anything of the sort- it just helps to save lives! And it’s a race against the clock, as the doctor says “every hour counts”.

Carole Lombard: Dramatic Actress

The scene in which Jane is at the hospital, and sees the doctors pick up the oxygen tank is both over played and brilliant. Carole is brilliant at being distraught. She emotes such a rawness that can’t be seen in any other picture. On the flip side however, you can tell she’s over acting, and is somewhat uncomfortable with she’s trying to play out. I personally think Carole did her best, considering she wasn’t used to playing serious drama.

As for James Stewart’s performance in this picture, it may sound cliche, but I declare he’s a natural. He plays the drama so well, no over acting and you feel his range of emotion. Sometimes you can’t describe what makes James Stewart so great, you just have to watch him.

Overall, Made for Each Other is a fantastic example of what makes melodrama fun to watch. It’s just wonderful to watch Carole and Jimmy Stewart together, and you can tell they genuinely adore working together. The plot may be a bit far fetched, but what plot in melodrama isn’t? 

Made for Each Other (1939) is in the public domain and is available to watch on YouTube!

My Special Wizard of Oz Character: The Scarecrow

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August is always a busy month for me personally, but I will always make time to do a Blogathon for really amazing fellow classic film writers, and especially when it’s about a movie I so adore.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) is a special movie that holds a place in my heart. The VHS tape I had as a child became worn out and I remember it was one of the first DVDs my Mom bought way back around 2000. To this day, I still have my Wizard of Oz Barbie set as well as have a replica copy of the original edition of the novel.

My feelings of the Wizard of Oz have remained unchanged since I was a child. Every time I watch Dorothy and her friends navigate their journey to Oz, I fall in love with the film all over again, and rediscover the true meaning of home. Dorothy’s quest to Oz has always been one that I am willing to take over and over, and what makes it fun is the friends she meets along the way. Of course, she already has Toto (her dog- of course!), but I’m talking about her three best friends she comes to love: The Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion. Of all three of these marvelous friends, the one who has held my heart has always been The Scarecrow. Not only is he the first person to tag along with Dorothy to Oz, but throughout the film he is the one who keeps her focused and cheers her up when she’s down.

(wikipedia) Ray Bolger: Our Scarecrow!!!

Part of what draws me to the Scarecrow is the warmth and familiarity Ray Bolger brings to the role- he’s a perfect dancer and you believe he really is wobbly. I can’t imagine Buddy Ebsen as the Scarecrow (or even the Tin Man, Jack Haley is the Tin Man!) because Ray is so flawless. When I was little, I considered Dorothy and The Scarecrow to be a team, while the Lion and Tin Man were the other part of the team- I’m not sure why, but I always saw it that way!

In the Kansas scenes, the farm hand Hunk (The Scarecrow counterpart) was originally meant to be a love interest for Dorothy and hints of their relationship are present in the film, most notably in the Oz goodbye scene. It’s tearful when Dorothy’s saying goodbye to the Tin Man and Lion- but every time I watch her hug the Scarecrow saying, “I’ll miss you most of all”, it gets to me and tugs at my heartstrings without fail!!! The emotion in that scene just breaks the barriers and you really feel the true fondness Ray and Judy had for each other.

Sorry if you tear up! Know I am!!!

One little stand out moment for me between Dorothy and the Scarecrow occurs during the escape from the Witch’s castle when they use the Tin Man’s axe to break down the door. The Scarecrow hands Toto to Dorothy before she hugs anyone- it’s something I have only noticed in recent years, but it’s a detail I have come to adore. The Scarecrow knew Dorothy would be worried sick over Toto and made sure she saw him first. In the past, during this scene I was always focused and obsessed with the red hour glass of the Wicked Witch’s, (to satisfy my obsession my parents bought me a mini hot pink hour glass when I was 5; sadly it cracked!!), but its little details such as these which make their friendship really translate to the audience.

Its all about the Little Details!!

Another major reason I am drawn to the Scarecrow is, when I was little, my Uncle Mike would dance and talk like the Scarecrow for my sister and I. Uncle Mike dance and sang “If I only had a Brain” in a funny manner- and even fell down like the Scarecrow, and when watching the movie, I would always laugh extra hard because I would think back to Uncle Mike’s dance. For me personally, they became connected and to this day they still are. Because I have two Uncle Mikes, I even list Uncle Mike as Uncle Mike (Scarecrow) in my phone. In 2005 when I was going to Disney World for the first time, My Aunt and Uncle bought my sister and I Disney autograph books and they were the first ones to sign them, Uncle Mike naturally signed it as, “The Scarecrow”.

Overall, I can’t honestly say I have a true favorite character from the Wizard of Oz (I mean it’s a bit impossible!!!), but rather I can say The Scarecrow is my “special character”. My “special character” from my “special movie”!

I leave you with Ray Bolger at his finest!!!

Please click Here to read other posts from Taking Up Room’s Wizard of Oz Blogathon and Thank you so much for hosting this wonderful Blogathon to honor this amazing and timeless film!! Happy 80th Birthday Wizard of Oz!!!!