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Ingrid Bergman: My Story by Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman: My Story

by Ingrid Bergman, Alan Burgess

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Ingrid Bergman's autobiography, My Story, was a guilty pleasure for me. I've been curious about various Hollywood exposés for years, especially focusing on Golden Age celebrities, but Bergman’s is my first. It lives up to its imaginary billing: a bit of behind-the-scenes commentary, some sniping at fellow film stars and makers, and liberal amounts of praise for those she admired. It’s knit together primarily as a response to the world-wide scandal greeting Bergman when she quite suddenly and dramatically left her husband and daughter for Roberto Rossellini. She was pilloried in the papers, and not just the trades, though it didn’t seem to stop her from making films. Eventually, she was almost as popular after as before.

I’d a vague idea of a scandal surrounding Bergman, and thought her role in Notorious was an ironic commentary on it. In fact, that role preceded the scandal, so anyone with dramatic flair could consider it prescient. I recently read Anna Karenina and there are remarkable parallels between Tolstoy's plot and Bergman's memoir, though I'd say Bergman's ends much happier.

I was completely unaware of Bergman’s significant work on the stage as well as screen. Apparently the two experiences fed into each other and developed her talents. It would appear her instincts played an equally strong part, though, as her craft was evident from the beginning, with little to no formal training. She left Sweden’s Royal Academy to work in Swedish film, and never looked back. It’s also true she never stopped learning, though formal training was not part of it.

I’d assumed Ingrid Bergman was related to Ingmar Bergman, but in fact: they’re not. They did work together, on Autumn Sonata, and the account of it here prompts me to raise its position in my queue.

It’s fascinating to learn that Ingrid was, by all accounts, a strong and confident person in her work, never hesitating to tell Hitchcock, Bergman, Selznick, Michael Redgrave, or John Gielgud what she thought would be improvements in their direction. Yet in her personal life, she confesses she was always deferring to her husband. It’s not clear to what extent relationship problems were rooted in her deferential personality, and to what extent it made it difficult once she encountered problems.

The book scans quickly, and reads as though a transcript was made from interviews with her. Alan Burgess supplies the editing, filling in details between the ‘transcripts’ with description, lengthy quotations from others, excerpts from newspaper accounts and several memos from David O. Selznick (who helped ‘discover’ Bergman for Hollywood). My edition includes copious photos, both personal and publicity stills, and most helpfully: an annotated list of Bergman’s films and stageplays. ( )
1 vote elenchus | Feb 6, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ingrid Bergmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burgess, Alanmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Diacon, ÉricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In a large portion of the American press for a period of some twelve days, immense drama such as President Truman's announcement of the invention of the hydrogen bomb and all it presaged for mankind was used as feeble bottom-of-the-page material fit only to support the black and bulging headlines charting the arrival of Ingrid's baby. [253]
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