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Indiscreet

Indiscreet(1958)

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An early working title of the film was Kind Sir, the title of the Norman Krasna play on which it was based. The backdrop of the film's opening sequence consists of shots of yellow and red roses, showing the cast and crew credits on gift cards that accompany the roses. The sparsely scored soundtrack heard intermittently throughout the film is played by a piano, providing, as a modern source described, a "politely restrained" mood. "Anna Kalman's" name appears in reviews and other sources variously as Ann, Anne or Anna, but she is called "Anna" in the film.
       The original 1953 Broadway play Kind Sir, which starred Mary Martin and Charles Boyer, was set in New York. According to a January 1958 New York Times article, Cary Grant agreed to appear or star in Indiscreet if Ingrid Bergman was cast as the female lead. However, Bergman was already committed to the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (see below), which was filmed in Great Britain. To accommodate her schedule, the setting of the story for Indiscreet was moved to London.
       The film was shot at Elstree Studios and on location in London. Among the many shots shown of that city are the exteriors of Leicester Art Galleries and the Garrick Club, Piccadilly Circus, Thames Embankment at Cleopatra's Needle, and the foyer and upstairs of the Crush Bar of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Sounds and shots of Big Ben chiming are used as a continuity device. The Garrick Club's dining room was recreated in the studio, as was the Painted Hall in the Palace of Greenwich, where "Anna" and "Philip" dance an eightsome Scottish reel.
       The set of Anna's flat, according to a January 1958 New York Times article, was furnished with Pablo Picasso drawings and works by artists Raoul Dufy, Georges Roualt and John Piper that were borrowed from English scene designers Oliver Messel and Roger Furse, and various English art galleries. The automobile Anna's chauffeur drives is a 1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, which, at that time, was valued at $23,000. According to a modern source, Grant bought the car after the completion of filming.
       According to the Hollywood Reporter review, "Bergman's costumes and Grant's wardrobe are not only the last word from the smart apparel magazines but major contributions to the dramatic situation." The review noted that Anna's choice to don a homely flannel nightgown on the night before Philip is to leave for America was a telling comment on her perception of the state of their relationship. Also mirroring Anna and Philip's relationship was an excerpt from the play in which Anna appears. Anna quotes from the play during the flannel nightgown scene.
       As noted in a May 1958 Hollywood Citizen-News article, the film employed a split-screen effect showing Philip and Anna in their separate beds in different cities. According to the article, Donen had "two bedrooms built side by side on the sound stage, and...two separate camera and sound crews. Their operations were synchronized, but each color camera photographed only one-half of the action." Although the characters are supposed to be three hundred miles apart, the effect resulted in their appearing to be "side by side in bed." This was significant in 1958, when even married couples could not be shown together in the same bed. Because the actors could hear each other's words as they were spoken, "their emotional reactions had far more romantic impact than if the action of each split-screen half had been staged at different times." The Hollywood Reporter review describes how the act of Grant straightening his blanket in Paris appears "to conquer space by patting Bergman's London derriere." The Hollywood Citizen-News article predicted that this method "might well set a precedent for future scenes of this kind."
       Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, December 1957 and January 1958 Hollywood Reporter news items add Leslie Weston, Len Sharp, Martin Boddey, Diane Clare and Robert Desmond to the cast. A December 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item and Hollywood Reporter production charts indicate that Margaret Johnston was replaced by Phyllis Calvert. According to a modern source, Johnston left because of differences with Donen. Modern sources add John Welsh (Passport official), Michael Lewis, and David Coote to the cast.
       Indiscreet marked the first of two films produced by Grandon Productions, Ltd., which was owned by Grant and Donen. [The company's final film was The Grass Is Greener.] According to August 1968 Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter news items, Grant, Donen, and writer Norma Krasna filed a breach-of-contract suit against Warner Bros. after the studio batched Indiscreet, of which the plaintiffs owned 75% of the profits from the picture, with 47 other films owned wholly by Warner Bros. According to the news items, the studio sold the batch and then divided the profits equally among the pictures, "having the results of depriving the plaintiffs of their proper share of television incomes." The outcome of the suit is not known. A television movie, Indiscreet, based on Krasna's play aired in 1988. This version was directed by Richard Michaels and starred Robert Wagner and Lesley-Anne Down.