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Entries in Oscars (70s) (95)


Autumn Sonata: Ingrid's Swan Song 

Happy Ingrid Bergman Centennial! The great movie star was born 100 years ago on this very day in Stockholm, Sweden. Jose closes out our 10 film retrospective with a look at her final feature film - Editor

Jose here. True story: there was a time when I thought Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman were the same person. Not because I had seen Persona and dreamt of metaphysical unions between both great Swedes, but merely because I was a child.

I first laid eyes on Ingrid on the box of my grandma’s tape of Casablanca, when I was 6, and there was something about those eyes filled with longing and sorrow that one day drew me to insert the tape into the player. Bewitched by the earthy qualities and the warmth she exuded, I devoured as many of her films as I could get my hands on, until one day I heard someone talk of Ingmar. Convinced that it was merely a mispronounced version of Ingrid’s name I remained oblivious until the day I saw The Seventh Seal at age 12. The more I learned of Ingmar’s work in the following years, the less I thought there would be room for Ingrid in his world of damaged, oft cold human beings.

Then I watched Autumn Sonata and not only did she make sense in Ingmar’s universe, it seemed to be the place she was born to be in. Playing world famous pianist Charlotte Andergast, the director allowed her beautiful features to reflect a severity she had merely suggested in earlier roles during her career, as if she chose not to be breathtaking. The film has Liv Ullmann play Charlotte’s daughter Eva, who resents her mother for not having been around much when she was a child. To say that their exchanges are unkind would be an understatement, when every word seems like a dagger aimed for the ultimate kill.

Cinema's Legendary Bergmans. No relation.

Ingmar’s kind of existentialism often drew from his own life, but in Autumn Sonata he seems to have made a film all about Ingrid. For starters, the very notion of a mother abandoning her children was something that allegedly tormented Ingrid who left her own child in America to pursue a relationship with director Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, in traditional Bergman fashion though, Charlotte isn’t entirely filled with regret though, and she seems pleased with having Eva’s contempt, rather than having spent her life pretending she wanted to be with her children. It’s a bold performance that breaks from the nurturing qualities Ingrid had shown all throughout her career.

Charlotte turned out to be the Oscar winner’s big screen swan song, she would then go into semi-retirement only to act in a Golda Meir biopic that would win her an Emmy and a Golden Globe, but her work in Autumn Sonata makes for a beautiful bookend when juxtaposed with her first big role in Intermezzo. In fact, we could propose a theory that Charlotte is another version of Intermezzo’s Anita Hoffman, in fact she could even be the same woman, a professional musician who realizes her art is more important than anything else in the world, after being subjected to endless heartbreak at the hand of the man she loves. It’s a thing of beauty to realize that she had been showing us shades of Charlotte more than 40 years before. Could it be that Ingmar had seen Intermezzo as a young man and dreamed this part for his leading lady before he began his own career? Even though Ingrid and Ingmar weren't the same person after all, they were meant to do transcendental art together all along.

previouslyIntermezzo (1939), Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1941), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1942), Notorious, (1946), Joan of Arc (1948), Journey to Italy (1954), Indiscreet (1958), The Inn of Sixth Happiness (1958), Cactus Flower (1969) and 10 Best Ingrid Bergman Kisses (1935 through 1970)


Murder on the Orient Express: Ingrid Bergman steals the show - or does she?

We're near the end of Ingrid Bergman's career so here's the penultimate episode in our retrospective. Happy 100th to the superstar on August 29th. Here's Lynn Lee...


By 1974, Ingrid Bergman was a grande dame of film in the twilight of her career, with two Best Actress Oscar wins under her belt, and nothing left to prove.  Perhaps that’s why she deliberately opted for such a small part in the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express, despite director Sidney Lumet’s attempts to coax her into taking a bigger one.  And yet, despite her own efforts to stay out of the spotlight, it found her anyway, with her tiny role as a mousy, middle-aged Swedish missionary netting her an unlikely third Oscar.

We don’t see too many movies like Orient Express these days – A-list extravaganzas where most of the stars end up with little more than glorified cameos but just seem to be in it for fun.  And to be fair, the movie is fun and directed with flair, even as it plays up the absurd theatricality of the whodunit setup – something that doesn’t register as strongly when you’re reading Agatha Christie’s plummy prose.  It’s a bit much at times...

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Peter Bogdanovich Gives Good Quote

on the set of What's Up Doc (1972)Peter Bogdanovich, one of the leading directors of the early Seventies, has finally made another movie at 76 years of age. She's Funny That Way, which stars Jennifer Aniston and opens today, is his first since The Cat's Meow (2001) with Kirsten Dunst. His career has been very quiet since his last true hit (Mask, 1985) but he hasn't been.

Bogdanovich's lack of inhibition when talking to the press has surely caused him problems in his career, but it's a source of joy for movie fanatics.It's all too rare to get unmassaged opinions from powerful artists who aren't worried about ruffling the feathers of other artists.

He just gave good quote to the Hollywood Reporter on Barbra Streisand in What's Up Doc? (1972) who originally wanted to do a drama with him instead of a comedy, Cher in Mask (1985) --  he doesn't exactly flatter her but to say he believes she should have won the Oscar that year, and making Paper Moon (1973) with the O'Neal's. That's our favorite of his pictures as you probably noted during the 1973 Smackdown last year.

But his quote on The Last Picture Show (1971) is the best:

[The scene in which] Cloris Leachman [who won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role] throws that coffee pot and yells at Timothy Bottoms — Cloris did it brilliantly. She wanted to rehearse it and I kept saying, “I don’t want to rehearse it; I want to see it for the first time when we actually roll.” I had learned that idea — to not let the actors show you an emotional scene before they shot it — from John Ford through Henry Fonda. It was Hank Fonda who told me that for the big climactic scene with the mother in The Grapes of Wrath, [Ford] wouldn’t let the actors play it for him — he wanted it to be fresh when they did it and of course he used the first take.

So I said, “Action!” and she was extraordinary. [But] she said, “I can do it better.” I said, “No, you can’t; you just won the Oscar.” And to this day — Jeff Bridges told me that he [recently] ran into Cloris and that she said, “Oh, I’m so angry at Peter. That was the first take. I could have done it better.” And Jeff said: “Oh, Cloris. You won the Oscar!”


YNMS: "Steve Jobs" & "Creed"

Films celebrating their over achieving male protagonist are par for the course come fall movie season each year as Oscar competition heats up. But Steve Jobs and Adonis Creed both got trailers in the same 24 hours or so and I couldn't resist conjoining them since they both also star actors named "Michael". They make both an odd couple and perfect pair: Mind and Body. Michael Fassbender plays real life computer genius Steve Jobs for Oscar winner Danny Boyle; And Michael B Jordan, reuniting with his Fruitvale director Ryan Coogler, plays fictional Adonis Creed, the son of dead boxer Adonis, in an attempt to reboot the stalled Rocky series.

Yes No Maybe So on both trailers after the jump...

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Podcast: Smackdown Companion 1979

You've read the new Supporting Actress Smackdown. Now hear its companion podcast. Our panel widens its view from the supporting nominees to talk about the unique cinematic landscape of the late 1970s, the women's lib movement and concurrent movie gender wars, and which movies give the best period punch and which we've misremembered completely.

Host: Nathaniel R
Special Guests:  KM Soehnlein,  Kristen SalesBill Chambers, and StinkyLulu.


  • 00:01 Introductions and memory vs. reality w/ Breaking Away
  • 03:20 Gender Wars of 1979. Misogynistic or merely non-coddling and complicated? 
  • 09:00 Cynicism and Optimism in Starting Over and Manhattan, which is particularly self-critical and discomforting
  • 15:50 Contextualizing the movies. 1979 versus what was to come with shifting tastes. Do people still make movies about "how we live now?"
  • 21:00 Meryl Streep's command of subtext and Kramer vs. Kramer as a film 
  • 28:00 The oddity of Starting Over's comedy - we recommend
  • 31:30 Movies we wish we had had to watch for the Smackdown: Alien & All That Jazz and non-nominated supporting actresses
  • 36:45 Final random observations: valium, money in 1979, and new actors who weren't yet famous
  • 39:00 Meryl Streep then vs Meryl Streep now. Of course we spend the last five minutes on Meryl Streep.

And because we joke about it - Here is Candice Bergen's off-key hit single "Better Than Ever" from Starting Over.

Please to enjoy and continue the conversation in the comments. You can listen at the bottom of this post or download from iTunes tomorrow. THE NEXT SMACKDOWN IS AT THE END OF JUNE. WE'LL BE LOOKING AT 1948 SO ADJUST YOUR QUEUES ACCORDINGLY.

Smackdown Companion 1979


Smackdown 1979: Barbara, Candice, Jane, Mariel ...and Meryl Streep!

Presenting the Supporting Actresses of '79. Three divorcées trying to find themselves or build new lives (a white hot character type / movie theme in the late 70s) battled for the statue with a simple suburban mom and a precocious student at the 52nd Annual Academy Awards.



Candice Bergen and Mariel Hemingway were first-time Oscar players in 1979, but they shared the interesting distinction of being previous Globe nominees in the long since cancelled category of "Promising Newcomer/Acting Debut" in 1966 (The Sand Pebbles) and 1976 (Lipstick) respectively. Barbara Barrie , the eldest nominee, was no stranger to good reviews having previously won Cannes Best Actress (for the little seen interracial romance One Potato Two Potato in 1964) but was largely considered a TV actress. She returned to the small screen immediately after her most beloved film role  -- in a TV series based on that film no less making her the rare performer (the only one?) to have received both an Emmy nomination and Oscar nomination for the same exact role! But the Kramer vs Kramer ladies were the marquee draws in 1979 and not just because the public response to their divorce drama was so seismic: Jane Alexander and Meryl Streep had been nominated before and would be again. Especially La Streep. No one could have then predicted that she'd continually obliterate Oscar records over the next thirty plus years but everyone knew she was the Next Big Thing. 1979 was the year of her true ascendance, a third consecutive year co-starring in a Best Picture contender (Julia, The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs Kramer) and the small matter of two other much-raved about performances in the same year (Manhattan and The Seduction of Joe Tynan). 


Here to talk about these five turns are author KM Soehnlein ("The World of Normal Boys") and film bloggers Kristen Sales (Sales on Film), Bill Chambers (Film Freak Central), Brian Herrera (StinkyLulu), and your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience). There's also a must-listen Podcast companion conversation to the Smackdown where we flesh out some of these thoughts and expound on the movies themselves.

Without further ado, the Smackdown...

An in-depth discussion after the jump... 

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Q&A Pt. 2: Rain Men, Paperboys, Oscar Greats

We had too many good questions last week to keep it all confined to one post. So now that you're read part one, so here's part two of the week's reader question roundup. I saved all the Oscar questions for this round to motivate me to update those Oscar chart this weekend. Ready? 

SONJA: Why do we mourn/rage about "undeserved" wins so often? In reality it doesn't change anything....

It's as useless as making your bed in the morning but we still make our beds, right? Or in my case throw the comforter haphazardly across the sheets - close enough! Listen, I consider it a sign of good character to mourn poor choices from awards bodies as long as one does so pointedly and briefly and doesn't allow it to become part of one's whole character like hating an actr- OH WAIT OOPS.  

People like to be dismissive about awards and say 'they don't matter!'  but it's simply not true. THEY DO. Awards permanently influence resumes and entire careers by way of their temporary affect on opportunities and, yes, praise (once considered a "great" it takes decades for the petals to fall off that rose... it took decades for people to start getting snippy about Al Pacino & Robert DeNiro's work!

Plus it goes in the history books. Baby cinephiles decades later still look these things up and watch the movies that were awarded to teach themselves movie history. I speak from experience. I know this to be true.

CASH: Dustin Hoffman's win for "Rain Man" baffles me...

more after the jump...

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