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

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Leslie Howard, Ingrid Bergman
INTERMEZZO; A LOVE STORY (1939). Director: Gregory Ratoff.

"I wonder if one has ever built happiness on the unhappiness of others."

Producer David Selznick, struck by Ingrid Bergman's appearance and performance in the Swedish film Intermezzo -- in which she played the young lover of a married man with children -- signed her to a contract and decided to do an American version of the movie in which Bergman was "introduced." According to most biographies of the actress, Selznick wanted to do Bergman over by Hollywood standards, and she insisted she just wanted to be herself. Oddly, Selznick went to the other extreme, in that Bergman looks much better -- prettier and sexier -- in the Swedish version than in his own -- she doesn't even wear make up in the remake. The violinist in this is played by Leslie Howard, his wife by Edna Best, and the children by Ann E. Todd and Douglas Scott. While the remake follows the original's story closely (and uses virtually the same script most of the time), there are some differences. First, there isn't as big an age difference between Bergman and Howard, giving an added weight to their relationship; in addition the scenes where Howard and Bergman fall in love are longer and more expressive. The story is a bit more moralistic than the Swedish version. A negative change is when the little daughter is hit by a car. In the Swedish version she is immediately taken to a hospital, but in the American version, Howard takes her home and yells "Send a doctor to the house!" To the house? -- this after she is clearly shown being run over! As in the earlier version, the best scene isn't between husband and wife or husband and lover, but the moving confrontation/reconciliation between father and son (well-played by Howard and young Scott). The movie is twenty minutes shorter than the Swedish version, and only clocks in at 70 minutes. Bergman and the other performers are all very good.

Verdict: Despite the business with the accident, this may have a slight edge on the original. ***.  


angelman66 said...

All of Selznick's films, in my opinion, are labors of love...this is no exception. He was clearly inspired by his newest star to pull out all the stops for her American film debut. Including the wonderful Leslie Howard...
- Chris

William said...

Howard and Bergman compliment each other beautifully!