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7 Great Films Starring Ingrid Bergman

Nordic Beauty and Ideal American Woman

By

One of classic Hollywood's most elegant actresses, Ingrid Bergman possessed an extraordinary amount of talent and glamor that helped make her one of the era's greatest stars.

Having emerged from her native Sweden in the late-1930s, Bergman quickly rose to the top with her fresh Nordic beauty and soon became the ideal role model for American woman. She delivered great performances in a number of classics and became one of Alfred Hitchcock's most favored actresses.

Though touched by scandal due to her illicit affair with director Roberto Rossellini, Bergman used her undeniable gifts to earn the forgiveness of her fans and secured her place as a top leading actress.

1. ‘Intermezzo’ – 1939

United Artists
Produced by David O. Selznick, this English-language remake of the 1936 Swedish film allowed Bergman to recreate the role that first put her on Hollywood’s radar. An old-fashioned melodrama, Intermezzo starred Leslie Howard as a famous virtuoso violinist who falls for his daughter’s talented piano instructor (Bergman) despite being married. As they carry on their affair, Howard’s family is very nearly torn apart, as his actions lead to his daughter suffering a near-fatal accident. Certainly not her greatest role, Bergman radiated enough beauty and elegance to turn her into an overnight star.
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2. ‘Casablanca’ – 1942

MGM Home Entertainment
Having established herself in Hollywood with her refreshing Nordic beauty and undeniable talent, Bergman was launched into super-stardom following her performance as the conflicted Ilsa Lund in Michael Curtiz’s iconic wartime drama, Casablanca. The wife of wanted anti-Nazi rebel Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), Bergman’s lovelorn Isla happens to walk into the Casablanca nightclub of her former lover, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), whom she mysteriously abandoned in Paris on the eve of invasion. Bergman’s chemistry with Bogart is nothing short of extraordinary and has remained one of the greatest on-screen couplings in cinema history.
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3. ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ – 1943

Paramount Pictures
After Casablanca, Bergman was a hot commodity in Hollywood and easily landed the coveted role of Maria in Sam Wood’s adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, her first Technicolor film. In fact, Hemingway himself felt that no other actress but Bergman should play the role of the young peasant girl who sides with the guerillas during the Spanish Civil War after being ill-treated by Franco’s soldiers. Along the way, she falls in love with idealistic American, Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper), who himself has joined the fight. Despite not being Spanish – actually, hardly any of the stars were – Bergman’s performance earned the actress her first Academy Award nomination.
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4. ‘Gaslight’ – 1944

MGM Home Entertainment
Bergman reached new heights following her turn in this classic George Cukor thriller that cast her as a late 19th century singer driven mad by her new husband (Charles Boyer), who happens to be a jewel thief who killed her aunt ten years prior. Both vulnerable and entirely believable, Bergman delivered one of her career’s finest performances in playing an all-too-trusting wife who believes her husband when he says that she’s imagining the strange goings-on in the home inherited from her late aunt, winning the Oscar that year for Best Actress. Look out for a teenage Angela Lansbury making her film debut as the estate’s impudent maid.
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5. ‘Notorious’ – 1946

Anchor Bay Entertainment
The second and undoubtedly best of her three collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Notorious actually marked the beginning of the end of Bergman’s commercial clout in the 1940s. She played Alicia Huberman, the alcoholic daughter of a man who committed suicide after being tagged as a World War II traitor, leading an American secret agent (Cary Grant) to use her to get close to Alexander Sebastian, (Claude Rains) the head of a Nazi group hiding in Brazil. His plan to have her wed Sebastian and become his inside woman goes awry, however, after his open contempt for her turns to love. Her tragedy-laced characterization of Alicia was extraordinary and ranks high as one of her greatest performances despite being passed over during Oscar season.
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6. ‘Anastasia’ – 1956

20th Century Fox
In the late 1940s, Bergman was the focus of scandal following her adulterous love affair with Italian director, Roberto Rossellini, which caused widespread condemnation that even reached all the way to the floor of the U.S. Senate. As a result, Bergman saw her star seriously fade, leading her to star in several Italian-made films in the early 1950s. But she made a triumphant return to Hollywood with this adaptation of the popular stage play, where she played an amnesia victim convinced by an exiled Russian general (Yul Brynner) to pose as the daughter of the late Czar Nicholas. Once again, her performance was simply amazing and earned Bergman a second Oscar for Best Actress, though friend Cary Grant accepted on her behalf due to her still being bruised by scandal.
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7. ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – 1974

Paramount Pictures
After spending the 1950s and 1960s alternating between Hollywood and European productions, Bergman delivered one of her last great big screen performances in this lavish adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic, which co-starred John Gielgud, Sean Connery, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Lauren Bacall and Michael York. Initially director Sidney Lumet wanted Bergman to tackle the more significant role of Princess Dragomiroff, but the actress insisted on playing Swedish missionary Greata Ohlsson instead. The part was small, though Bergman made the most of her short time on screen – particularly in a long, five-minute unedited speech – and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the third and final Academy Award of her career.
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