Indiscreet (1958, Stanley Donen)

A lighter picture from the year of Vertigo and Touch of Evil. It’s Ingrid Bergman’s second Hollywood film after returning from her European Exile From Hollywood (where she’d met Jean Renoir, just back from his Hollywood Exile From Europe – she starred in his Elena And Her Men). Cary Grant, right between An Affair to Remember and North by Northwest, was still a household name. Movie about a potentially scandalous love affair starring two lead actors who had publicly scandalous love lives at the time must’ve added up to big box office bucks.

Based on a play, and you can tell since most of the big scenes take place in the same location. Rich actress (Bergman) meets rich NATO diplomat (Grant), they date and fall in love. Only catch is he claims to be married – not true, but an escape clause for someone who never plans to settle down. There’s lots of talk of “making love” (which we all know only meant “kissing passionately” in 1958, since sex-before-marriage wasn’t invented until the mid 60’s) and late-night sneakings-around. Katy points out that Cary seems awfully comfortable lounging in her bed during one visit. There is one time when they’re in bed “together”, actually a clever split-screen effect during a phone conversation.

Cary’s secret finally comes out in a convoluted final scene. He’s leaving town for months, plans to surprise Bergman on her birthday the night after he supposedly left. She finds out about the surprise and about his single status, plans to humiliate him by having Another Man (actually the servant in a robe) lurking in her bedroom at the appointed hour. All cleared up at the end, she forgives his huge lie because he decides he wants to marry her after all. So there’s never any actual scandal except among the six characters in the movie. Good, light movie with some snappy dialogue, mostly worth watching for the star acting.

Director Donen (still alive, sued The Gap this year for their classic-film-thieving marketing) had made three comedies the year before, would put out Charade five years later. Writer Norman Krasna was also behind Let’s Make Love and the stories for Lang’s Fury and Borzage’s Big City.

No big, memorable moments by the supporting cast, which means I probably won’t recognize ’em next time I see ’em. Skittish servant David Kossoff, who pretends to be Bergman’s suitor in the final scene, had been in a bunch of British films with interesting names in the 50’s (The Bespoke Overcoat, A Kid For Two Farthings). His pushy wife Megs Jenkins was in Green For Danger, a late 40’s film of The Monkey’s Paw, and something called The Gay Dog. Then there’s Bergman’s ever-present sister (Phyllis Calvert, later in Twisted Nerve) and brother-in-law (Cecil Parker, the colonel in Quartet, also appeared with Bergman in Under Capricorn).

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