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Ingrid Bergman - Star of the Month
Remind Me

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939)

During the period in which he was producing and releasing his signature movie, Gone With the Wind (1939), David O. Selznick made another important contribution to American films by introducing Ingrid Bergman in her first English-speaking movie, Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939). Selznick assistant Kay Brown had seen an earlier Swedish version of the film, also starring Bergman, and the producer dispatched her to Stockholm to secure the rights for an American remake. After Brown returned to New York with the screenplay rights, Selznick had an afterthought and sent her once again to Sweden, this time with instructions to sign the leading lady to a contract.

According to Selznick biographer Bob Thomas, Bergman had turned down other Hollywood offers from fast-talking Hollywood types but was impressed by Brown's personality, telling her, "You're so sweet and human that anyone you work for couldn't be nearly as crazy as I expected." She eventually signed with Selznick, although stipulating that she would commit to only one film before deciding whether she wanted to stay in Hollywood.

Bergman balked at Selznick's plans for a "glamour makeover" that involved capping her teeth, plucking her eyebrows and dying her hair. "You must have liked me to bring me all the way over here," she told him, adding that she had not had plucked eyebrows or dyed hair in the original Intermezzo. Selznick then realized that a great publicity campaign could be built around Bergman's "naturalness," and a new type of Hollywood star appeared to captivate an international public.

Intermezzo tells of a bittersweet love affair between a young pianist (Bergman) and a famous concert violinist (Leslie Howard) who is married with two children. The movie was Oscar-nominated for its musical score and for Gregg Toland's beautiful black-and-white photography, which gave Bergman a special glow. Upon the film's release, critics warmed to the actress as quickly as audiences did. "There is that incandescence about Miss Bergman," wrote Frank S. Nugent in the New York Times, "that spiritual spark which makes us believe that Selznick has found another great lady of the screen."

Producers: David O. Selznick, Leslie Howard (Associate)
Director: Gregory Ratoff
Screenplay: George O'Neil, from screenplay by Gustaf Molander and Gosta Stevens
Cinematography: Gregg Toland, Harry Stradling Sr. (uncredited)
Original Music: Max Steiner
Editing: Hal C. Kern
Costume Design: Travis Banton, Irene
Cast: Leslie Howard (Holger Brandt), Ingrid Bergman (Anita Hoffman), Edna Best (Margit Brandt), John Halliday (Thomas Stenborg), Cecil Kellaway (Charles Moler), Enid Bennett (Greta Stenborg), Ann E. Todd (Ann Marie Brandt).
BW-70m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe



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