As we mentioned last week — one good book plug deserves another, after all — one of the most pleasurable reads we’ve come across lately is British critic-author’s David Thomson’s new book, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies, which includes a concise and pointed chapter titled, Ingrid Sees A Movie.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to provide the much anticipated answers to the Ingrid Bergman quiz inspired by Thomson’s crisp and sharply written chapter on this great actress. We think at least some of the answers will surprise you. So, here we go:
1) Question: Born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1915, Ingrid Bergman had a difficult childhood. Why? a) She was physically frail and almost pathologically shy; b) She lost both her parents at an early age; c) She was psychologically abused in an orphanage; or d) None of the above?
Answer: b) Bergman’s mother died when the actress was just two years old; her father expired when she was 12. Bergman was rised by an elderly uncle, and was not placed in an orphanage.
2) Question: As a result of her childhood, Bergman was always an easy mark for more assertive personalities. True or false?
Answer: False. As Thomson writes, she was strong — all her life people would marvel at her inner strength. She was also determined, and decided at a young age to go on the stage.
3) Question: David O. Selznick was first tipped off about Bergman’s talents by a Swedish elevator operator who worked in the producer’s office building. True or false?
Answer: True. The Swedish elevator man saw and loved Bergman’s early movies in Sweden, and tipped off Selznick assistant Kay Brown about how glorious she was onscreen. Brown, in turn, informed the producer with this — There is this Swedish girl….
4) Question: At first meeting, Selznick, who introduced the actress to America, was instantly taken with Bergman’s striking physical beauty. True or false?
Answer: False. Selnick first met Bergman in 1939, while he was in the throes of Gone With The Wind. His reaction? My God, you’re tall, and your teeth, and you need makeup, and that name is too German (Bergman’s mother was German). The actress told Selznick that, in effect, what he saw is what he would get. Selnick smiled and said, Okay, we’ll sell you as the natural woman.
5) Question: Bergman was a relatively tall woman when she came to Hollywood in the late 1930’s. Just how tall was she? a) six feet; b) five feet, 11 1/2 inches; c) five feet, eight inches; or d) five feet, 10 inches?
Answer: d) five feet, 10 inches, tall for a woman at the time.
6) Question: How many Oscars did Bergman win over the course of her career? a) one; b) five; c) three; or d) four?
Answer: c) Three, two best-actress Academy Awards for 1944’s Gaslight and 1956’s Anastasia, and one best-supporting-actress citation for 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express. Bergman was also Oscar nominated for 1978’s Autumn Sonata, 1948’s Joan of Arc, 1945’s The Bells of St. Mary’s, and 1943’s For Whom The Bell Tolls.
7) Question: Bergman’s notorious affair and marriage to Roberto Rossellini began soon after she attended a screening of one of his pictures, and was deeply impressed by what she saw? Which of the Italian director’s movies led to this epiphany? a) Open City, b) Voyage To Italy, c) Paisa ; or d) Europa ’51.
Answer: c) 1946’s Paisa, or its English title Paisan, a gritty, realistic six-part look at the Allied invasion of Italy, from Sicily to Venice, in WW2. Bergman and many other movie goers were deeply moved by Rossellini’s film when it first came out. It holds up today, and remains a classic.
8) Question: Bergman’s romance with Rossellini got her blackballed in Hollywood, and made headlines in 1950’s scandalsheets. Why? a) He had suspect political affiliations which didn’t sit well in post World War II America; b) The couple posed nude together for an Italian magazine; c) Both were married to others at the time their affair began; or d) She bore Rossellini a son out of wedlock?
Answer: A combination of c) and d). Bergman and Rossellini were indeed married to others when their flaming romance commenced. If that was not scandalous enough for the time, she compounded things by getting pregnant by him before they got married. Almost standard practise today.
9) Question: Which Italian actress did Bergman displace in Rossellini’s affections? a) Rossana Podesta; b) Anna Maria Alberghetti; c) Anna Magnani; or d) Elsa Martinelli?
Answer: c) Anna Magnani, Rossellini’s star in Open City. She was not happy.
10) Question: Bergman starred twice in two versions of films with the same title. Which ones? a) Gaslight, b) For Whom The Bell Tolls; c) Intermezzo; d) Notorious; or e) Joan of Arc?
Answer: c) and e). Bergman costarred in Swedish version of Intermezzo in 1936, and three years later, played the same part in the Hollywood version costarring Leslie Howard. She played the Roman Catholic saint burned at the stake in director Victor Fleming’s 1948 Hollywood version, and six years later, starred as the Maid of Orleans in then husband’s Roberto Rossellini’s Italian version, Giovanna d’Arco.