INTERMEZZO (1939) 

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Ingrid Bergman
Leslie Howard
Edna Best
Ann E. Todd
Marie Flynn
John Halliday
Douglas Scott

Gregory Ratoff



Time: 70 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romance/Drama

Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Score.

I was not a huge fan of Ingrid Bergman until recently. After watching a number of her early films, I'm beginning to truly appreciate her talent. INTERMEZZO is her English speaking debut and she's wonderful in it. Even at the age of 24, there's something about her that's mesmerizing. How she manages to make this overcooked melodrama watchable is a tribute to her depth as an actress. She's the only reason to sit through this trite and ridiculous romance. She's radiant, intelligent, funny and makes you believe that Leslie Howard is sexy and interesting. Not an easy task. Yes, his character is a very talented musician and we're all familiar with the model/rock star thing, but still...the fact that a young woman with her obvious assets would actually fall in love with someone like him is pretty hard to swallow. That you're happy she's found love, a miracle. Which is not to say that Howard is unattractive or untalented, he's just lacks the sex appeal of a Grant or Gable.

There's not much to the story of INTERMEZZO. Leslie Howard is a world-famous violinist with a wife and family who stay at home while he tours the world. Upon his most recent return, he is introduced to his 6-year-old daughter's piano teacher, played by Bergman. He thinks nothing of her until she plays at his daughter's birthday party. Her talent and beauty take him by surprise. He falls for her completely after a night at the symphony where they accidently meet. After some champagne and a long walk, it's obvious there's more between them then mere friendship. For less than admirable reasons, he invites her to be the accompanist on his upcoming tour. She doesn't want to give up her studies, but her heart won't allow her to say no. They try to keep their affair quiet, but when she resigns and attempts to leave town, his wife knows all to well why. They leave on tour together, despite the familial repercussions. They have great success, but it's apparent their stolen love can't last forever. They part as they must, but tragedy follows him on his road to redemption.

"I wonder if anyone has built happiness on the unhappiness of others."

INTERMEZZO is not a great movie, but it's not horrible either. It's typical of the films' of its day. The only thing that keeps it afloat, and still on television, is Bergman's performance. The film falls flat whenever she's not onscreen. Her character goes through the gambit of emotions and she hits the nail on the head every time. No one does exuberant or devastated better. Howard is expertly tortured as a man forced to choose between his heart and his family. She's his mid-life crisis. If only all men could be so lucky. The other stand-outs are the two young girls, Ann Todd, who plays his daughter, and Marie Flynn, who plays a young girl they meet on vacation. They give the film additional dimension by making it more than just a silly romance. The music, which is something of a minor character, gives the film an extra bit of class. If you're looking for a little something to help you pass the time, INTERMEZZO is a pleasant bit of fluff that will make you wish for more romance in your life. Plus Bergman is a joy to watch.

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