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

Thursday, August 31, 2017


NOTORIOUS: THE LIFE OF INGRID BERGMAN. Donald Spoto. HarperCollins; 1997.

Donald Spoto gives Bergman the bio treatment and it's largely a sympathetic look at her life and career. As usual, Spoto claims some sort of friendship with his subject, beginning with his interviewing her for a book on Hitchcock. Spoto covers all of her films made in Sweden, Hollywood, and Italy; her first marriage to Petter Lindstrom (whom apparently came to see her as rather self-absorbed and negative even after he was happily re-married); her affair, marriage and collaborations with Roberto Rossellini; her third marriage to a theatrical producer which ended up as a loving friendship but a failed romantic union; her assorted relationships with a variety of men; her comeback in Anastasia; and her emergence as a star and talent of the first rank even as she eventually battled cancer. Spoto perhaps tries too hard at times to cover up for his subject's obvious flaws as a person, and some of the things he writes are a little inexplicable, such as how the gay/bi Tony Perkins was "frozen in terror at the touch of a woman" [!] when he appeared with Bergman in Goodbye Again. This is ridiculous, considering Perkins did numerous love scenes with women during his career, and eventually married and had two children. Spoto, like most biographers, talks over and over and over again about Bergman's "beauty," but she was actually rather average-looking and certainly no sex symbol, although she apparently had no trouble making herself available and attracting men.

Verdict: Solid, engaging, and very well-written, if imperfect, bio of Bergman. ***1/2.

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