<DIV><DIV><P>Around the middle of the twentieth century, the advances in photography and self-knowledge came together in a generation of people who loved to be photographed, but who may have confused the process with love itself. Take Ingrid Bergman.</P><P>The crucial film was called Intermezzo, and the first version, the Swedish, was released in 1936. It is the story of a celebrated concert violinist, Holger Brandt (Gösta Ekman, forty-six at the time), a married man with children. He discovers a new accompanist, Anita Hoffman (Ingrid Bergman, twenty-one). Perhaps it is the force of spring storms melting the winter ice, perhaps it is just their rapport when playing the theme from Intermezzo together. They fall rapturously in love and the burnished, aching face of Ingrid Bergman beholds her own glory and her shame – she becomes prettier in love (this mutation is inescapable) and yet she foresees the ignominy of an adulterous affair that even in up-to-date Sweden threatens social order and the rules of the game. At the level of melodrama, the dilemma is posed, and it will never go away – what is an artist to do with life? Anita Hoffman plays discreet and obedient piano backgrounds to the male soloist she loves, but there is no getting away from the pulse of her own creative aspirations. She wants to be in love and to be glorious and, whatever the obstacles or difficulties, she whispers to herself, ‘Courage, courage!’ Ingrid Bergman is the embodiment of brave discovery: we fall into her face just as she slips away from guilt or friction in the lovely glide of being seen – recognized.</P><P>Gösta Ekman is very good in Intermezzo, and it is a film about the male character. He has the spiritual egotism of a lofty artist, but he looks haunted, too, by his love for Anita. Ekman and Ingrid were close. They had worked together several times and Ingrid in her diary had talked of marrying Ekman’s son (who was her age) as the next best thing. Yet it’s clear which man she worshipped, and it’s easy to imagine the warmth between them. Gösta gave her bouquets of carnations after Intermezzo and told her she was on her way. She even doubted that she could act without him. But in January 1938, he died, and the desperate look on his face became easier to understand. A woman like Ingrid Bergman had to learn early that men were going to fall in love with her, and give off that same hopeless look you see in fading flowers.</P><P>At 230 Park Avenue, in those days in the building that housed the New York offices of Selznick International Pictures, there was a Swedish elevator operator, and he very likely knew that the important person at SIP – apart from Mr Selznick and his partner, Mr Whitney – was Kay Brown. Ms Brown was a small, busy, brown-haired woman, with an inquisitive, friendly smile and a great deal on her mind. But the elevator operator thought he would tell her nevertheless, and just in the time it took to go up and down he mentioned this Swedish film with the lovely girl. The picture was called Intermezzo. ‘Really?’ said Kay Brown, like someone who was always being offered hot tips, but who had learned long ago that you never could tell.</P><P>‘Intermezzo,’ said the operator again. ‘You have to see this picture. The girl!’</P><P>In time, Kay Brown would tell the girl herself the story of the Swedish elevator operator, and the girl smiled, as if confirming the idea that life was like a movie where you could be several thousand miles away, absolutely unaware, as something was happening that might determine your life or change its direction. ‘That’s lovely!’ the girl told Kay Brown.</P><P>‘Maybe so,’ said Ms Brown, ‘but you’re the lovely one.’</P><P>And Ingrid Bergman gave Kay her best smile, that terrific knockout glow that worked just as well life-size as it did on a screen thirty feet high. Here was the thing about Ingrid Bergman: what you got on the screen was there in life. You didn’t have to do anything but turn it loose, and let life do the rest. And Ingrid’s smile flowered, to think that life could be so generous.</P><P>But in Stockholm, in 1939, when Kay Brown had flown there in a small plane in the snows to meet the Swedish actress, still the American had wondered about her own job. She was a talent scout and what she saw was amazing raw talent. But Ingrid Bergman seemed happy with her husband and a new baby. Kay Brown made the offer, as was her job – to invite Ms Bergman to come to America. But she was wary. She got Ingrid on her own and she said, ‘You know, you’ve got a lovely home and a lovely baby. If I were you I would think it over very carefully.’</P><P>But Ingrid was sure. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘if there are people as nice as you in America and in Hollywood, then I’m sure I shall like it, so I shall go, and take the risk.’</P><P>So she went, leaving her husband and the eight-month-old baby. There was another pleasant surprise in the discussions. Selznick International would fly her to America. She wouldn’t have to swim!</P><P>The above may catch you unawares. It is something with which you will have had very little experience – it is an Ingrid Bergman joke. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that the story I’ve just told is hostile to her, much less that it puts her in a false or an unkind light. It’s just that I am suggesting that Ingrid Bergman had a calling, allied to a gravitational attraction, and a will that was not to be resisted. She had to act, and see most of the things that happened to her as moments in the act. Thus, with even a younger child in hand, she would have volunteered herself as someone who might swim and walk from Stockholm to Los Angeles if it meant a better opportunity to act. This was in no way mercenary. As we shall see, for several years she was ruthlessly exploited by her owner. Yet she hardly noticed the money. She worked for love of the job, for her soul.</P><P>Stories, or fiction-like events, happened to Ingrid Bergman – it was as if life was doing its best to rise to her great desire, or need. For example, she made the journey with Kay Brown in the spring of 1939 as her Europe waited for war. She got to New York, and then she took the train across country. And so she came to Los Angeles, to Beverly Hills, and Kay Brown took her up to the Selznick house on Summit Drive on a Sunday morning.</P><P>When they got there, Irene Selznick was sitting on the lawn of the great house listening to the broadcast of a horse race on the radio. Ingrid waited patiently until it was over. And then Irene Selznick greeted her and welcomed her and explained that her husband – Mr Selznick – was at the studio where, even on a Sunday, they were making something called Gone With the Wind.</P><P>‘Where is your luggage?’ asked Mrs Selznick, and Ingrid indicated just the one suitcase she had put down at the edge of the lawn.</P><P>So she was shown her room at the Selznick house and Irene said that Ingrid should accompany her that evening on a social engagement. She was having dinner at the Beachcomber restaurant with Grace Moore, Miriam Hopkins and Richard Barthelmess. Ingrid was to come along, too. And Mr Selznick? Ingrid asked. Oh, he’ll be by.</P><P>She went to the restaurant where she rather intimidated Richard Barthelmess by towering over him. And then they all went back to Miriam Hopkins’ house. It got to be one o’clock in the morning and Ingrid was dozing, when someone told her that Mr Selznick was in the kitchen. He was at the table, stuffing himself with food. He looked up and saw her height, he groaned and said, ‘God! Take your shoes off.’ He studied her and said her name was impossible. It sounded German. Perhaps they’d use he <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>Ingrid Bergman</b> by <b>Thomson, David</b> Copyright © 2010 by Thomson, David. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. 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