A Soap Well Done
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 03/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard have made their careers playing exactly the kind of star-crossed lovers who find each other as in INTERMEZZO. Howard had just finished filming GONE WITH THE WIND when director Gregory Ratoff tapped him to play Holger Brandt, a concert violinist who seems to have it all: a loving wife (well played by Edna Best), two happy children, and a successful career touring the opera circuit. Yet, behind the surface happiness, Holger sends out subtle signals that all is not well both in his life and in his marriage. His touring takes him away from home for long stretches. His wife and daughter miss him, and his growing absences begin to nettle all concerned. He seems to be a man ready for a too-soon mid life crisis. Enter Anita (Ingrid Bergman) as a piano teacher for his daughter. Anita is far more than just a child's tutor; she is a gifted concert pianist in her own right. It does not take long for sparks to fly between them, as each soon has to face the unavoidable question that all adulterers cannot avoid: how can they build happiness on the unhappiness of others? Ingrid Bergman had earlier played the same role in a Swedish version of the same film with an identical title. Since she did not know English, she had to learn her lines with the help of language tutors who wisely decided to leave untouched her lilting Swedish accent that had since become her trademark. Both Bergman and Howard bounce off each other in all the right ways and at just the right moments as their characters are basically deeply sensitive to the realization that their new-found love must collide painfully with the near-extinguished love of Howard and Best. Miss Best, who as Holger's infinitely understanding wife, is not pushed into the background by her far better known actor leads. In fact, she steals more than a few scenes with an acting style that emits a wealth of emotion with the merest of glances. Early in the affair between Holger and Anita, Mrs. Brandt sees Anita casually fondling Holger's violin case, and her stifled gasp tells the audience all it needs to know that she knows of the affair but chooses to give Holger a chance to sort out his feelings. INTERMEZZO is the rarest of soaps. You learn to care for the characters even as they tread down a path that a legion of other less able films headed. Good acting will usually do that."
7 Reasons Why Intermezzo Works
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 04/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I normally don't gravitate toward melodramas or 'soaps' nor would I approve, frankly, of a film that centers around adultery. However, this film has such much going for it that I wound up loving this movie the first time I saw it, and still do six viewings later.
Off the cuff, here are seven reasons why:
1) There IS a good message here: that a married person having a fling with a pretty young woman might be an exciting prospect but in the end, "you reap what you sow" and if either of the two parties has a conscience, the illicit romance will be doomed, especially if there are kids involved.
2 ) For male viewers, Ingrid Bergman, making her English-speaking debut, is a real feast for the eyes. She was one of the more naturally gorgeous women to grace the silver screen, I think.
3) Gregg Toland's photography. To fully appreciate his work, get the DVD for this film. Toland was one of the best cinematograthers ever, and this is a beautifully shot piece of work.
4) At 70 minutes, the film flies by, which also makes it easier to watch and enjoy multiple times.
5) Leslie Howard and John Halliday also were excellent in here as the two male leads. I thought Halliday, in particular, had some great words of wisdom.
6) For those who appreciate how difficult it is to forgive people, this ending contained another nice message.
7) Classical music lovers will very much appreciate the soundtrack to this film."
POIGNANT, BITTERSWEET AND UTTERLY CHARMING
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 10/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Intermezzo is the brilliant American adaptation of the Swedish film by the same name. Enamored by her on screen presence in that film, producer David O. Selznick imported Ingrid Bergman to Hollywood; a rare an ever-lasting find that audiences the world over should be eternally grateful for. As in the Swedish version, Bergman plays Anita Hoffman, a gifted piano teacher who comes in contact with violin virtuoso, Holger Brandt (Leslie Howard). Though Selznick wanted Howard in the film, Howard only agreed after Selznick acquiesced to giving him co-producer screen credit for his efforts. Brandt's world tours keep in away from his committed wife, Margit (Edna Best) and children. The realization that his own life is passing him by is spurred on when Brandt discovers that he is falling in love with Anita. A bittersweet Riviera tryst reforms the illicit lovers to their separate destinies. Selznick's impenetrable commitment to top of the line production values and his way of concocting dreamy gloss from human stories, make "Intermezzo" a viscerally moving poignant experience. Bring Kleenex.
MGM's DVD is rather impressive. The B&W picture exhibits a very nicely balanced gray scale with smooth, solid blacks and very clean whites. Age related artifacts are present throughout but do not distract. Some minor edge enhancement crops up but pixelization is kept to a minimum. Overall the picture will surely not disappoint. The audio is mono but more than adequate for a film of this vintage. There are no extras.
Great love story!
Nix Pix | 06/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is yet another masterpiece from that magical movie year of l939. And it was produced by none other than David Selznick, who just happened to be involved in another little film that very year. Let's see, what was the name? Oh, yes. Gone with the Wind. Intermezzo is mesmerizing because of the thick gloss of glamor, the shimmering photography, costumes and of course the musical score which is threaded throughout with classical motifs. The score, in fact, was supposedly composed by the overworked Max Steiner although his name doesn't appear in the credits. Although a short movie, just barely over an hour, the dreamy, ravishing lighting, shadowing, glowing photography makes this such a super-production you'll want to see it repeatedly. Oh, yes, it does star the radiant Ingrid Bergman making her American movie debut. Leslie Howard, believe it or not, does come alive in this one, a lot more than his wooden Ashely Wilkes of GWTW. For lovers of all ages, and movie buffs of every nationality, Intermezzo, should definitely be on your movie shelf."