"I can do everything with ease on the stage, whereas in real life I feel too big and clumsy.
So I didn't choose acting. It chose me."
Ingrid Bergman 1915-1982
Who would have thought that someone as beautiful and talented as Ingrid Bergman would feel like that? It does my heart good to know that even those who seem to have everything and who are adored by so many still feel as we in the audience so often feel. To me, Ingrid Bergman was one of the most easily accessible actresses of her time. Her beauty had an attainable quality to it, unlike other actresses from the 40's such as Lana Turner, Vivien Leigh or Ava Gardner. She looked like she could live next door and be a dear friend. She was born in Sweden, both of her parents died early in her life and she made her first film in 1935. Her second film, "Intermezzo" filmed in Sweden, caught the attention of David O. Selnick. He immediately signed her to a contract in Hollywood, remade "Intermezzo" and she was a sensation. Ingrid went on to become one of the most intelligent, sought-after and award-winning actresses ever.
The film we watched in class, the 1941 version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" also starring Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner and Donald Crisp, while not one of her most famous roles as my professor likes to show us films we probably have not seen before, it is an excellent example of just how extraordinary she was. Spencer Tracy is wonderful in the lead role(s), of course, but Ingrid Bergman takes the role of Ivy Peterson (the barmaid who Mr. Hyde imprisons) and makes her unforgettable. When the film was being shot, the gossip in Hollywood was that Lana Turner would play the part of Ivy Peterson and Ingrid would play Dr. Jekyll's very kind and simple girlfriend, Beatrix Emery, as that part seemed to suit her based upon her past roles. However, Ingrid insisted that she play Ivy and, boy, did she. Her scenes with Mr. Hyde in the apartment where he imprisons her are works of art and there is not a minute during those scenes that you take your eyes off of her. The depth of her anguish and pain are apparent on her face and you can hear it in her voice. Her friends come by to help but her terror that Mr. Hyde will find her no matter where she goes is heartbreaking. She goes to see Dr. Jekyll to ask for help and she shows him the welts on her back that Mr. Hyde has inflicted. She breaks down and weeps with a passion that seems so real. Dr. Jekyll sees what he as Mr. Hyde has done to this poor girl so he promises he will never let Mr. Hyde near her again. She believes him and goes home to celebrate, but her celebration is cut short by a knock at the door that turns out to be Mr. Hyde. He confronts her, they quarrel and she slowly realizes that he is going to kill her. Her dear sweet face shows such fear and utter helplessness that I was brought to tears. Mr. Hyde attacks, slowly strangles her and she disappears out of the camera's view, leaving you devastated. The rest of the film seemed colorless and flat after Ingrid's demise. She lit up the screen and drew you a picture of a young woman caught in something she could never understand. Ingrid Bergman gave her heart and soul to her roles but also brought a tenderness that other actresses could not. She was a true film actress who took each role further than anyone thought possible and breathed life into them. She was truly one of a kind.