Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


INGRID BERGMAN: MY STORY. Ingrid Bergman and Alan Burgess. Delacorte; 1980.

Ingrid Bergman (1915 - 1982) worked with writer Alan Burgess on her memoirs just before her death in 1982. The book consists of Burgess' observations interspersed with lengthy sections written by Bergman, with quotes from those who knew her, personal letters, and diary notes. Therefore the book emerges as a fairly complete look at the life and career of Bergman, although one senses that certain things were probably swept under the rug. Born in Sweden where she became a film actress fairly easily, Hollywood took notice of her in Intermezzo, and set out to make an American version with Leslie Howard. Bergman hit the heights with such films as Casablanca, Notorious, Spellbound, Gaslight, Joan of Arc and others, earning more than one Oscar, before her career was nearly derailed by her adulterous affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, who was also married and whose mistress was Anna Magnani. Leaving her husband and daughter, Bergman flew to Italy to make Stromboli with her lover; they later married and made a series of indifferent films such as Fear before they, too, divorced. Bergman managed to survive the scandal, marrying for a third time (a union which also ended in divorce) and came back to Hollywood for Anastasia and subsequent films. Although described as a great beauty and not a typical actress, Bergman was not really beautiful in the conventional sense, although she was a great actress. Like most movie stars, she wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, and first husband Petter [sic] Lindstrom was jettisoned in favor of a more romantic type who was also an artist with whom she could, presumably, make masterpieces that never quite materialized. There is only a little behind-the-scenes details about Bergman's movies, but a great deal about her personal life and impressions of intimates. The truth about Bergman is that her primary concern throughout her life was her career, and considering her talent, she probably made the right, if difficult, choices.

Verdict: The Life and Times of Ingrid Bergman. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

I remember liking this book a lot, I read it when I was a kid...I had only seen Bergman in a couple of movies, I think Gaslight and then a movie with Liv Ullman called Autumn Sonata, but I was in my glory reading all these star autobiographies of the era - Doris Day's Own Story and Sophia Living and Loving....and of course, this one.

Now I am a huge fan, of course, she is transcendent in Casablanca, love her in the Hitchock films of the 40s and the light comedy she made with Cary Grant in the late 1950s, Indiscreet. (Also a great turn in Murder on the Oient Express years later.)

William said...

Whatever her human flaws, Bergman was an extremely talented actress, with none of the flamboyance of the Davis/Crawford school of acting. Which is probably why she never had a camp following as such, LOL.