Nationality: Swedish. Born: Stockholm, 29 August 1915. Education: Royal Dramatic Theater School, Stockholm. Family: Married 1) Peter Lindstrom, 1937 (divorced 1950), daughter: Pia; 2) the director Roberto Rossellini, 1950 (annulled 1957), children: Robertino Ingmar and twins Isotta and Isabella; 3) Lars Schmidt, 1958 (divorced 1975). Career: 1933—stage debut in Stockholm; 1934—film debut in Svensk Filmindustri's Munkbrogreven ; 1935—contract with director Gustav Molander; 1939—attracted attention of David O. Selznick who offered her role in American remake of Intermezzo ; moved to America after outbreak of World War II in Europe; 1941—American stage debut in Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie produced by the Selznick Company; 1949—traveled to Italy to work on Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli ; scandal involving affair with Rossellini and subsequent pregnancy without marriage disrupted her career in Hollywood for 7 years; 1956—successful return to Hollywood films with Anastasia ; 1959—star of TV adaptation of Henry James's Turn of the Screw directed by John Frankenheimer; stage roles in Captain
Films as Actress:
Munkbrogreven ( The Count of Monk's Bridge ) (Adolphson and Wallen) (as Elsa)
Brannigar ( Ocean Breakers ; The Surf ) (Johansson) (as Karin Ingman); Swedenhielms ( The Family Swedenhielms )(Molander) (as Astrid); Valborgsmassoafton ( Walpurgis Night ) (Edgren) (as Lena Bergstrom)
Pa solsidan ( On the Sunny Side ) (Molander) (as Eva Bergh); Intermezzo (Molander) (as Anita Hoffman)
Dollar (Molander) (as Julia Balzar); En kvinnas ansikte ( A Woman's Face ) (Molander) (as Anna Holm); Die vier gesellen ( The Four Companions ) (Frölich) (as Marianne)
En enda natt ( Only One Night ) (Molander) (as Eva); Inter-mezzo ( A Love Story ) (Ratoff) (as Anita Hoffman)
Juninatten ( A Night in June ) (Lindberg)
Adam Had Four Sons (Ratoff) (as Emilie Gallatin); Rage in Heaven (W. S. Van Dyke) (as Stella Bergen); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Fleming) (as Ivy Peterson)
Casablanca (Curtiz) (as Ilsa)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (Wood) (as Maria); Swedes in America (Lerner)
Gaslight (Cukor) (as Paula Alquist)
Saratoga Trunk (Wood) (as Clio Dulaine); Spellbound (Hitchcock) (as Dr. Constance Peterson); The Bells of St. Mary's (McCarey) (as Sister Benedict)
Notorious (Hitchcock) (as Alicia Huberman)
Arch of Triumph (Milestone) (as Joan Madou); Joan of Arc (Fleming) (title role)
Under Capricorn (Hitchcock) (as Lady Henrietta Considine)
Stromboli (Rossellini) (as Karin)
Europa '51 ( The Greatest Love ) (Rossellini) (as Irene Girard)
Siamo donne ( We, the Women ) (Rossellini)
Giovanna d'Arco al rogo ( Joan at the Stake ) (Rossellini); Viaggio in Italia ( Journey to Italy ; The Lonely Woman )(Rossellini) (as Katherine Joyce)
Angst ( La Paura ; Fear ) (Rossellini)
Anastasia (Litvak) (title role)
Elena et les hommes ( Paris Does Strange Things ) (Renoir)(title role)
Indiscreet (Donen) (as Ann Kalman); Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Robson) (as Gladys Aylward)
Aimez-vous Brahms? ( Goodbye Again ) (Litvak) (as Paula Tessier)
Der Besuch ( The Visit ) (Wicki) (as Karla Zachanassian)
The Yellow Rolls-Royce (Asquith) (as Mrs. Gerda Millett)
Stimulantia ("Smycket" or "The Necklace" ep.) (Molander)
Cactus Flower (Saks) (as Stephanie Dickinson)
A Walk in the Spring Rain (Green) (as Cissy Meredith); Henri Langlois (Hershon and Guerra)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Cook)
Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet)
A Matter of Time (Minnelli)
Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman) (as Charlotte)
By BERGMAN: book—
Ingrid Bergman: My Story , with Alan Burgess, New York, 1980.
By BERGMAN: articles—
"Ingrid Bergman on Rossellini," interview by Robin Wood in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1974.
Interview with Ingrid Bergman in Michael Curtiz's "Casablanca" , by Richard Anobile, New York, 1975.
On BERGMAN: books—
Steele, Joseph Henry, Ingrid Bergman , 1959.
Brown, Curtis F., Ingrid Bergman , New York, 1973.
Rosen, Marjorie, Popcorn Venus , New York, 1973.
Taylor, John Russell, Ingrid Bergman , London, 1983.
Leamer, Laurence, As Time Goes By: The Life of Ingrid Bergman , New York, 1986.
Quirk, Lawrence J., The Complete Films of Ingrid Bergman , New York, 1989.
Spoto, Donald, Notorious: The Life of Ingrid Bergman , New York, 1997.
On BERGMAN: articles—
Tynan, K., "The Abundant Miss Bergman," in Films and Filming (London), December 1958.
Vermilye, J., "An Ingrid Bergman Index," in Films in Review (New York), May 1961.
Ross, Lillian, "Ingrid Bergman," in New Yorker , 21 October 1961.
Bowers, R., "Ingrid Bergman," in Films in Review (New York), February 1968.
Bourget, J.-L., "Romantic Dramas of the Forties," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1974.
Damico, J., "Ingrid from Lorraine to Stromboli: Analyzing the Public's Perception of a Film Star," in Journal of Popular Film (Bowling Green, Ohio), v. 4, no. 1, 1975.
Waldman, Diane, "Ingrid Bergman: An Outcast Returns" and "A Nun Does Not Fall in Love with an Italian" in Close-Ups: The Movie Star Book , edited by Danny Peary, New York, 1978.
"Ingrid Bergman," in Ecran (Paris), April 1978.
"Rossellini's Stromboli and Ingrid Bergman's Face," in Movietone News (Seattle), December 1979.
Films in Review (New York), March 1980.
Harvey, Stephen, "Ingrid Bergman" in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Amiel, M., obituary, in Cinéma (Paris), October 1982.
In The Annual Obituary 1982 , New York, 1983.
McLean, A.L. "The Cinderella Princess and the Instrument of Evil: Surveying the Limits of Female Transgression in Two Postwar Hollywood Scandals," Cinema Journal (Austin, Texas), no. 3, 1995.
Campbell, V., and C. Oakley, "A Star Is Born," Movieline (Los Angeles), no. 7, June 1996.
Jacobowitz, F. "Rewriting Realism: Bergman and Rossellini in Europe, 1949–1955," Cineaction (Conde-Sur-Noireau, France), no. 41, 1996.
* * *
The complexity of Ingrid Bergman's career (with its notorious vicissitudes), and of the image that is its product, raises a number of important issues about stars: the perennial one (but here in a peculiarly acute form) of the tensions between acting and presence; the efforts of Hollywood to construct a star according to a specific prescription and the actress's rebellion against that construction; the diverse and sometimes contradictory ways in which a "star image," once constructed, can be inflected in the work of different directors.
The use for which Hollywood initially intended her is clear enough: she was the new Swedish import, the new Garbo, and yet, emphatically, not Garbo, the public appearing to be rejecting Garbo's image of an aloof Goddess. Instead of aloofness, mystery, and glamour, what was stressed above all (both on screen and in publicity) was naturalness. Two publicity handouts epitomized this quality: the widely broadcast decision not to remold her features in the interests of glamour; and the "secret" of how she maintained her flawless complexion (by going for walks in the rain). The naturalness was, however, immediately qualified by a second layer of signification that already introduced into the image a potential tension: Bergman was natural but she was also a lady, in a sense in which Dietrich was decidedly not, and a sense quite incompatible with Garbo's "mystery"; a "lady" might be expected to end up with a "gentleman" (such as the George Sanders of Rage in Heaven ) and settle down to a stable respectability. (Certain of the early films— Intermezzo and Adam Had Four Sons —play upon this possibility by frustrating it.)
Bergman's partial rebellion against this image-construction was motivated by a desire to prove that she could act , and was not merely a star. When in the 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde MGM cast her as Jekyll's high society fiancée and Lana Turner as Hyde's low-life mistress and victim, it was Bergman who took the initiative (enlisting Turner's cooperation) in demanding that they exchange roles. A somewhat curious accent aside, her promiscuous cockney barmaid was extremely successful (though the critics, predictably, said she was miscast).
Two of Bergman's finest performances in two of her finest films draw directly upon the natural/lady opposition: the persecuted wife of Cukor's Gaslight and the energetic and forthright nun of McCarey's The Bells of St. Mary's . The latter, too easily dismissed by embarrassed sophisticates for its alleged sentimentality, is among other things, a complex and delicate study of gender roles, allowing Bergman a wide range of expression within the apparent confines of her nun's habit. Bergman's notions of being an actress (centered on a striving after obviously big acting roles such as Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls and, above all, Joan of Arc in the disastrous Fleming film of that name) were always somewhat naive; her richest and most complex performances arose not out of "big" roles but out of collaborations with directors such as Cukor and McCarey who were particularly sensitive and sympathetic to performers , collapsing the usual distinction between presence and acting ability. One may also note that, for all her efforts to establish a wider range, Bergman was quite incapable of playing a bad woman convincingly; the irreducible beauty of her character partly undermines the dismally reactionary project of Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata , the chastisement of a great pianist for failing to be a great mother.
The core of Bergman's achievement is in her work for two of the cinema's greatest filmmakers: the three films for Hitchcock, the five for Rossellini. Both, again, drew on the persona, inflecting it in quite different ways. Spellbound (the least interesting Hitchcock) reconstructs the natural Bergman out of the repressed psychiatrist. Both Notorious and Under Capricorn achieve great resonance by playing upon the possibility of the persona's irreparable degradation (through heavy drinking and promiscuity in the former, alcoholism and potential insanity in the latter) and its eventual, triumphant rehabilitation.
The Rossellini films are still disgracefully underrated, even largely unknown, outside small circles of initiates; they are essentially films about Bergman (though they are also about much else besides), obliquely relating to her personal situation. Stromboli places the lady, as a displaced person, among the physical and emotional brutalities of a primitive community and explores her reactions; Europa '51 begins by abruptly demolishing the facade of elegance and sophistication that represents one aspect of the lady and proceeds to release the natural side of the woman and develop it towards sainthood; Viaggio in Italia reunites the lady with George Sanders in all the sterility of a respectable bourgeois marriage and proceeds to show her reaching out to make contact with eroticism, death, and the terror of emptiness, as a necessary movement towards the discovery of meaning. Bergman herself did not greatly value her work in these films: she didn't "act," she "walked through them." Yet they constitute the essence of her own meaning, as star, presence, actress, image.