Sunday, 30 August 2015

Picture of the Week

James Stewart and Olivia de Havilland on a picnic in 1940
(photo by John Swope)

James and Olivia began dating in December 1939, after he escorted to the New York premiere of Gone with the Wind (1939). According to Olivia, James even proposed to her in 1940, but she felt he was not ready to settle down. Their relationship was interrupted when James enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in March 1941, but they would continue to see each other on and off for another year, before Olivia fell in love with director John Huston.

Happy Birthday, Joan Blondell!

(August 30, 1906 December 25, 1979)
I don't know what the secret to longevity as an actress is. It's more than talent and beauty. Maybe it's the audience seeing itself in you.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Happy 100th Birthday, Ingrid Bergman!

(August 29, 1915 August 29, 1982)
Be yourself. The world worships the original.

Watch Sara's exquisite tribute to this wonderful woman:

Friday, 28 August 2015

Film Friday: "Battleground" (1949)

In honor of Van Johnson's 99th birthday, which was on Tuesday, this week on "Film Friday" I thought I'd tell you a little bit about what I think is one of his greatest films, one that also happens to show "the guts, gags and glory of a lot of wonderful guys."

Theatrical release poster
Directed by William A. Wellman, Battleground (1949) opens in France in mid-December 1944, as battle-weary soldiers of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division await their long-promised leave in Paris. The pass is cancelled, however, when they are called back to the frontline to stop a surprise German breakthrough in Bastogne. Among those sent to plug the breach are Pfc. Holley (Van Johnson), a girl crazy soldier; Pvt. Jarvess (John Hodiak), a small town newspaper columnist; Pfc. Roderigues (Ricardo Montalbán), a Mexican-American enlistee; Pvt. "Pop" Stazak (George Murphy), an older serviceman awaiting a "dependency discharge"; Pvt. Layton (Marshall Thompson), a new recruit; and Sgt. Kinnie (James Whitmore), the platoon leader.

After a heavy winter storm, Kinnie informs the squad that a group of German soldiers disguised as American G.I.s have infiltrated their position and sends out Holley, Jarvess and Roderigues to patrol the fog-shrouded Ardennes woods. Just before they start out, the platoon experiences its first action in the Battle of the Bulge, being shelled by German artillery that is behind cover. Roderigues is wounded by machine-gun fire from an enemy tank and eventually freezes to death. A short time later, while on guard duty, they encounter a party of Germans who have come to negotiate the American surrender, but Brig. Gen. McAuliffe, the highest ranking officer in charge of the operation, responds with just a single word: "Nuts!" On Christmas Day, the Lutheran chaplain (Leon Ames) helds a moving service in the field, before being interrupted by the sounds of the Luftwaffe bombing Bastogne. As the squad is down to its last few rounds of ammunition, the weather clears and Allied relief planes are finally able to drop supplies, enabling the 101st to quickly defeat the Germans. With the siege of Bastogne lifted, Kinnie leads the survivors of the platoon toward the rear for a well-earned rest.

Chaplain: Was this trip necessary? My answer to the sixty-four dollar question is yes, this trip was necessary. As the years go by, a lot of people are going to forget. But you won't. And don't ever let anybody tell you you were a sucker to fight in the war against fascism.

When World War II ended in September1945, so ended the American public's interest in war films in general and combat films in particular. Now that battlefield successes in Europe and in the Pacific had assured Allied victory, people wanted to get on with their lives and not think about the recents horrors of the conflict. Hollywood had long anticipated the country's desire to return to normalcy and war film production stalled for several years after V-J Day in favor of "a steady peacetime diet of noir thrillers, madcap comedies and adventure films." In the late 1940s, however, three first-rate combat dramas  Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), and especially Battleground initiated a cycle of war films that "would continue almost unabated until the dark era of the Vietnam War."

Producer Dore Schary first conceived Battleground in early 1947, while he was still head of production at RKO Pictures. Although studio executives felt the trend of war pictures had passed, Schary believed "it was imperative to do a film about World War II that would say that war was worth fighting despite the terrible losses," so as to prevent Americans from experiencing the same kind of disillusionment that had swept the country after the First World War. To emphasize both the sense of sacrifice and the threat of a Nazi takeover, Schary looked for a specific situation in which the Allied cause had been close to failure and found just that in the decisive siege of the Belgium town of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the United States during World War II. Aware that veteran screenwriter Robert Pirosh had served in Europe, Schary immediately arranged a meeting with him and asked if he knew anything about Bastogne. "Know anything?" Pirosh replied, "I was there!"

Pirosh and William A. Wellman on the set
Pirosh had been a Master Sergeant with the 320th Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, crucial in relieving the encircled 101st Airborne struggling to survive in the freezing cold of the Ardennes forest. He kept a wartime diary in which he recorded his experiences as a combat infantryman, as well as little incidents and anecdotic episodes he witness while fighting alongside the 101st in the Bulge. "It was not a daily diary, but my mind was always on a possible picture to be written after the war," he later explained. Schary realized that Pirosh was "uniquely qualified" to write the script for his proposed war film and hired him right after their meeting.

Worried that another studio would beat RKO to the theaters with a rival war picture, Schary kept a close wrap of secrecy around the pre-production stage of the project and even gave Pirosh's story a cover title, Prelude to Love, as a way to disguise its subject. After returning to the battlefields of Bastogne in April 1947 and reliving the "horror of times past," Pirosh knew exactly the kind of story he wanted to tell. He wanted to focus on one single squad of riflemen, "without heroics, without fancy speeches, without a phony romance," and avoid at least three clichés that were frequent in war films at the time: "there is no character from Brooklyn in the story. Nobody gets a letter from his wife or girl saying she has found a new love, and nobody sweats out the news of the arrival of a new born baby back home." The most important thing for Pirosh was to write "a picture which would ring true to the men [who had fought in the Bulge] and which would not be an insult to the memory of those we left there."

The company arrives in Bastogne
Although Pirosh "had slept in the same mud, picked at the same frozen K-rations, faced the same German soldiers" as the 'Battered Basterds of Bastogne,' the nickname given to the members of the 101st Airborne who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, he feared he might not be able to develop an accurate script. To be as true-to-life as possible, he sought advice from Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who had commanded the division during the siege of Bastogne and whose succint reply of "Nuts!" to the German demand of surrender had become the symbol of American determination during the war. McAuliffe enthusiastically approved of the project and encouraged Pirosh to "go ahead and write it the way you feel it." Like Pirosh, McAuliffe believed it was time the public was shown a new side of the war and later served as technical adviser on the writing phase of Battleground, personally annotating and approving every line of dialogue.

In early spring of 1948, shortly after Pirosh handed in his first draft of the screenplay, Schary signed Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Bill Williams to starring roles, with Fred Zinnemann in mind for director. At that point, eccentric aviation tycoon and occasional film producer Howard Hughes suddenly bought RKO and told Schary to take Battleground off the studio's production schedule, feeling that the story was "too grim and lacked key entertainment values." Hughes was firmly convinced that an infantry picture would be a disaster, but Schary strongly believed Battleground was a winner. Exasperated at Hughes's intransigence, Schary resigned from RKO and was immediately signed by Louis B. Mayer to head of production at MGM, the studio he had left years earlier over creative conflicts.

Wellman directing a scene in Battleground
Schary wanted Battleground to be his first project back at MGM, but Mayer was skeptical and uneasy about its commercial prospects. Since he didn't want to oppose Schary so soon after his return to the studio, Mayer allow him to make the film and the producer immediately purchased the screenplay of Battleground from Hughes. Schary also brought Pirosh to MGM to complete the script and arranged with General McAuliffe and the Army to provide 20 veterans of the 101st Division who had fought at Bastogne to serve as extras on the film, as well as tanks, trucks and other needed equipment.

To direct Battleground, Schary chose the legendary William A. Wellman, an acknowledged expert at handling action sequences who had recently delivered a successful portrayal of infantrymen in The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum. Known as "Wild Bill," Wellman was a decorated veteran of World War I, having served as a Lieutenant with the Lafayette Flying Corps stationed at Lunéville in the Alsace-Lorraine territory. Although Wellman disliked Schary and disagreed with his desire to put messages in films, he liked Pirosh's script and agreed to direct Battleground, especially since the studio had offered him "an awful lot of money to do it." Nevertheless, he told Schary, "Look, I can't make a G.I. Joe out of this thing. I'll make a film about a very tired group of guys."

Van Johnson on a lunch break
Casting of Battleground was somewhat problematic at first, as Robert Taylor, Bill Williams, Robert Ryan and Keenan Wynn all departed the project due to contractual conflicts. To replace Taylor in the part of the fun-loving Holley, Schary signed Van Johnson, one of the studio's most profitable stars during the war years, often playing military roles in films like A Guy Named Joe (1943) and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944). Johnson's popularity had declined in the late 1940s and he trusted Battleground would  not only restore his status as one of the nation's biggest box-office draws, but also bring out the best of his talent.

The other members of Wellman's stellar cast included popular song-and-dance man and future senator George Murphy, who played "Pop" Stazak, a 35-year-old soldier given his discharge papers right before Bastogne is surrounded; newcomer Marshall Thompson, assigned to the crucial role of Jim Layton, the inexperienced replacement who slowly learns the value of true comradeship; Air Force veteran and future director Don Taylor, who played Corporal Standiferd; Ricardo Montalbán, a newcomer from the Mexican film industry assigned to the role of Roderigues; John Hodiak, who played Jarvess the ex-newspaperman; Jerome Courtland, a veteran of the Pacific Theater of war who shone as the ill-fated hillbilly Abner Spudler; Bruce Cowling, as no-nonsense squad leader Sergeant Wolowicz; highly respected character actor Richard Jaeckle, the perpetual "kid" in countless war films, who played Private Bettis; Navy veteran Douglas Fowley, who had lost its teeth in an aircraft carrier explosion in the South Pacific, assigned to the role of Private Kippton; and James Whitmore, a veteran of the Marine Corps who played the cigar-chewing, frostbitten Sergeant Kinnie.

Darcel and Murphy between takes
While Battleground was essentially an all-male production, Pirosh's script did include a female character, a French farm girl who feeds some of the soldiers during a lull in the battle and whom Holley tries to romance. For that part, Schary hired Denise Darcel, described by him as "a buxom, juicy French girl [...] with ample round buttocks and breasts that, as she walked, presented a movable feast." Wellman did not think a war picture should have included "that kind of stuff," especially since the studio had Darcel wear a tight black sweater throughout the film, but he conceded that cinematically her breasts proved "wonderful to play with."

Although Wellman had a facility for getting the best out of his actors, he ranted and swore a lot on the set and did not welcome suggestions. In one memorable sequence in Battleground, while German planes drop leaflets urging the American soldiers to surrender, infantrymen make depreciative comments about the pamphlets, then crumple them up and throw them away. As Wellman was preparing to shoot the scene, George Murphy approached him and timidly asked if he could make a suggestion. When the irritable director agreed, Murphy demonstrated what he had in mind to do on camera: he started picking up the leaflets and walked into the woods, obviously with the intention of using them as toilet paper. Suprisingly enough, Wellman approved of Murphy's suggestion, saying, "I finally got a good idea from an actor!" 

Both MGM and the military did their best to help Wellman make Battleground as realistic as possible. The Army provided the director with tanks, trucks and other needed equipment, while the studio recreated the winterlike atmosphere of the Battle of the Bulge by taking out a wall between two soundstages and constructing a huge indoor battlefield that gave the director a completely controlled environment in which to work. Apart from the obvious benefit of not having to worry about melting snow, the detailed setting facilitated lighting as well as filming. The opening and closing scenes, however, were filmed outdoors, with the military facility of Fort Lewis, Washington serving as the background for the tank sequence depicting the relief of Bastogne. Additionally, as he had done with the cast of The Story of G.I. Joe, Wellman had his actors train with real soldiers so that they would perform in proper military fashion.

John Hodiak and Jerome Courtland
In post-production, film editor John Dunning matched staged action with a limited amount of real combat footage as a way to increase authenticity. Unlike Ken Annakin's widescreen epic The Battle of the Bulge (1965), shot entirely on location in Spain, in which snow-capped mountains and palm trees appeared in the background and dust replaced snow as the tanks roar into combat, Battleground had carefully dressed exteriors that matched both the interior shots captured by Wellman and the combat footage added by Dunning.

During production, Schary instituted an effective system of cutting and dubbing which made it possible to preview Battleground within 48 hours of the scenes being filmed. Each day's film was processed as it was shot, reducing the average time between completion and preview by several weeks. As a result, filming wrapped up twenty days under its original schedule and almost $100,000 under budget. Upon its premiere at the Astor Theatre in New York in December 1949, Battleground became the biggest moneymaker of the year and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, just like Schary had predicted. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it the best of the World War II pictures that have yet been made in Hollywood" endorsing the current view that it was as important a post-war epic as King Vidor's The Big Parade (1925) had been in the aftermath of World War I.

At the 22nd Academy Awards ceremony held in March 1950 at the RKO Pantages Theater in Hollywood, Robert Pirosh received the Oscar for Best Story and Screenplay and Paul C. Vogel was given the statuette for Best Cinematograhy (Black and White). In addition, William A. Wellman earned his third nomination for Best Director, James Whitmore was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, John Dunning for Best Editing and the film itself was one of five nominated for the coveted Oscar for Best Picture, losing to Robert Rossen's All the King's Men (1949).

Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalbán and Georgy Murphy in a publicity still

Being fascinated by anything even slightly related to World War II, I have watched countless films set during that period of time and Battleground comes across as one of the very best. First of all, it is highly accurate, which is obviously very important for a film that portrays real historic events. Secondly, I love how Pirosh incorporated agony and humor in his script and appreciate the fact that he did not attempt to glorify these soldiers, as most war films of the time did. Part of the reason why I love Battleground so much is because it actually reminds me of Band of Brothers (2001), especially episodes six and seven, both of which depict the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, George Murphy's character in Battleground reminds me a lot of Donnie Walhberg's character in  Band of Brothers, even though one is completely fictional and the other is based on a real person. In conclusion, Battleground stands as one of the finest films ever made World War II, as it does not romanticize war and portrays the soldiers as vulnerable and human, rather than heroic.

Boom and Dust: American Cinema of the 1940s by Thomas Schatz (1999) | Combat Films: American Realism, 1945-2010, 2nd Edition by Steven Jay Rubin (2011) | Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film by Lawrence H. Suid (2002) | Van Johnson: MGM's Golden Boy by Ronald L. Davis (2001) | TCMDb (Articles) | TCMDb (Notes) | The New York Times contemporary review by Bosley Crowther

The Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon: "Saratoga Trunk" (1945)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Wood, Saratoga Trunk (1945) begins as Clio Dulaine (Ingrid Bergman) returns from Paris to her crumbling ancestral home in New Orleans, accompanied by her faithful Haitian maid, Angelique (Flora Robson), and her dwarf manservant, Cupidon (Jerry Austin). The illegitimate daughter of an aristocratic New Orleans Creole man and a part-Creole woman who was his placée, Clio is determined to achieve wealth and respectability so that she can avenge her recently deceased mother's mistreatment at the hands of her father's family. Shortly after she arrives in New Orleans, Clio meets Clint Maroon (Gary Cooper), a handsome Texan gambler in a white hat with an agenda of his own, and a whirlwind courtship soon begins.

Although she is in love with Clint, Clio plans to marry a rich and powerful man to prove that she is as good as her father's family. As she continues to embarrass the Dulaines at every opportunity she gets, Clint grows tired of her unrelenting machinations and leaves for Saratoga to carry out his revenge on the railroaders who ruined his father back in Texas. After the Dulaines pay Clio $10,000 and finally agree to bury her mother in the family plot, she joins Clint in Saratoga, where she plans to marry Bartholomew Van Steed (John Warburton), the wealthy owner of the Saratoga Trunk railroad. Meanwhile, Raymond Soule (Louis Payne), the same man responsible for ruining Clint's father, is trying to steal Saratoga Trunk from Van Steed, so Clint offers to save it from Soule in exchange for shares in the railroad. When Clint is seriously wounded during a pitched battle with Soule's men, Clio finally realizes that she loves him too much to marry another man. Faking delusion while Clio is nursing him back to health, Clint confesses that, having saved the Saratoga Trunk from Soule, his railroad shares have made him "rich up to his neck" and says he regrets ever leaving his sweetheart in Texas. Crying, Clio begs, "Oh, don't punish me anymore. I'll cook for you, I'll scrub for you. I'll let you wear the pants," to what Clint happily replies, "Honey, that's all I wanted to know."

Clint Maroon: Where I come from, women are two kinds: they're good or they're bad. What kind of a woman are you?

Born in Michigan in 1885, Edna Ferber was one of America's most prominent historical novelists, known for her uniquely feminist and multiracial view of the national past which deliberately challenged "the traditional narratives of white masculine power." Her long and fruitful association with Hollywood began in 1918, when Metro Pictures, later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, purchased the screen rights to Our Mrs. McChesney, a play she co-wrote with George V. Hobart in 1915, to adapt it into a comedy starring Ethel Barrymore. Two years later, Irving Thalberg, then working for Universal, acquired the rights to her 1917 semi-autobiographical novel, Fanny Herself, and she used the money to finance the writing of her first major historical novel, The Girls, published in 1920.

After the introduction of sound to motion pictures in 1927, Ferber's writings became more and more entwined with Hollywood's filmmaking, as the new medium "transformed and reenergized" historical dramas more than any other genre. With the tremendous success of Cimarron (1931), the Best Picture winner at the 4th Academy Awards, Ferber's reputation in Hollywood rapidly expanded and studios began paying large amounts of money to adapt her controversial best-sellers to the screen. Pictures like Show Boat (1936) and Come and Get It (1936) were marketed and reviewed as prestigious "Ferber films" and eventually helped define "the industry's attitude toward American history during the studio era." Despite Ferber's dislike of Hollywood's "ghostlike persona," no other American writer had such a sustained, successful relationship with the industry during the 20th century, with no fewer than 25 films being made from her work between 1918 and 1960.

Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman
In 1941, Ferber published Saratoga Trunk, a novel "devoured by readers and damned by critics for its saleabe, 'Hollywood' qualities." Described as "a lush period romance set in late nineteenth-century New Orleans and New York," the book was perfectly tailored to Hollywood's narrative demands and Warner Bros. purchased the rights to it as soon as they were available. This transaction established a precedent in the sale of literary properties to motion pictures, as it was the first time that such a deal called for all rights to the property to revert back to the author after a stated period of time.

Studio chief Jack Warner initially envisioned Saratoga Trunk as a vehicle for the sensational duo Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, but scheduling conflicts with both actors caused them to turn down the project. Richard Travis was then tested for the role of Clint Maroon and many actresses were considered for the part of Clio Dulaine, including Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Ann Sheridan, Lena Horne and Hedy Lamarr, who actively campaigned for it. In the meantime, Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman were just finishing production on Sam Wood's For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), based on Ernest Hemingway's novel of the same name. According to producer Hal B. Wallis, Bergman wanted "very badly" to play Ferber's latest heroine, while Cooper was desperately looking for a new project that would pair the two of them again so that he could continue his affair with her. To keep both actors happy, Warner Bros. cast Cooper and Bergman in Saratoga Trunk right after For Whom the Bell Tolls ended, keeping Wood on as the director.

Cooper and Bergman on the set
Saratoga Trunk was filmed between late February and late June 1943, with production concluding 42 days behind schedule due to many delays caused by the director and both stars. Firstly, there was Wood's "lack of planning and maddening indecision," which alarmed and infuriated unit manager Eric Stacey: "on many occasions he is very vague about how he's going to stage scenes, and after he has done a scene, goes home and sleeps on it, gets another idea and does it again the next morning." To make matters worse, Cooper came down with an eye infection that unabled him to do close-ups for several days, while Bergman missed a week of work because of illness.

According to most accounts, Cooper and Bergman did renew their affair while working on Saratoga Trunk. Wallis did not mind the illicit relationship, since he thought their off-screen romance would intensify their on-screen chemistry. They were "full of high spirits" and were often seen driving together down Sunset Boulevard when not needed on the set. He called her "Frenchie" and she called him "Texas," their pet names from the film. All of this fostered a considerable amount of gossip about their relationship, but no conjecture about a romance appeared in the columns and movie magazines of the time. Years later, however, Cooper would tell a reporter what he had never seen a woman so much in love with him as Bergman had been. On her part, Bergman had been starstruck with Cooper ever since meeting him on the set of For Whom the Bell Tolls and was amazed at how close his acting persona was to his real personality.

The personality of this man was so enormous, so over-powering — and that expression in his eyes and his face, it was so delicate and so underplayed. You didn't notice it until you saw it on the screen. I thought he was marvelous: the most underplaying and most natural actor I ever worked with.
(Ingrid Bergman)

Magazine ad for Saratoga Trunk
Cooper was one of Hollywood's most versatile actors, so the studio had no problems marketing him as a 19th-century Texan adventurer. Publicizing the industry's newest "Norse goddess" as an exotic Creole belle, however, was far more difficult. To enhance Clio's mixed-race status, the studio used Bergman's black wig and the Scarlett O'Hara-esque attributes of her character as "novelty assets." As a result, posters, lobby cards and magazine adverts frequently showed Cooper in a white Stetson and white suit opposite a black-haired and black-gowned Bergman, which "foregrounded not only her exoticism, but also her 'color' in contrast to the pure white Cooper."

In spite of the Production Code's strict censorship of miscegenation and other forms of racial mixing, Bergman's role belongs to a suprisingly rich group of classic Hollywood films with mixed-race protagonists. Clio Dulaine's predecessors include such complex and unforgettable characters as Clara Bow's Nasa Springer in Call Her Savage (1932), Fredi Washington's Peola Johnson in Imitation of Life (1934), Bette Davis's Julie Marsden in Jezebel (1938) and Vivien Leigh's indomitable Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Saratoga Trunk, however, was notable for being the first of several post-war pictures to feature a mixed-race heroine that was so often explored in the Southern period dramas of the 1930s. After Clio, there came, for instance, Jennifer Jones's Pearl Chavez in Duel in the Sun (1946) and Jeanne Crain's Pinky Johnson in Pinky (1949).

Although Saratoga Trunk was completed in 1943, its release was held back until November 1945 in deference to more timely war-themed and patriotic films. Like a number of other Warner Bros. productions made during World War II, such as Devotion (1946), My Reputation (1946) and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), Saratoga Trunk was first shown to the American armed forces fighting overseas, before being released to the general public back home.

Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman
Critics were divided in their reactions to the film and Bergman's performance was especially controversial. While Jack Grant of The Hollywood Reporter commented that Bergman "is literally a sensation in projecting a fire never previously displayed, a vitality and vividness that meets and conquers each requirement of one of the most exacting roles ever filmed," Kate Cameron of The New York Daily News judged that "neither star nor director have been able to turn a Norse goddess into a lusty, fiery-tempered, shady Southern lady, in spite of a dusty wig." In addition, the acidic Bosley Crowther of The New York Times dismissed Saratoga Trunk as "gaudy junk," saying that "the Warners have taken the novel which Edna Ferber wrote a novel of high romantic polish and maddening emptiness underneath and have given it a visualization in the grand, flashy, empty Hollywood style." Flora Robson, on the other hand, was uniformly praised for her performance as the disapproving half-caste Angelique and even received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Despite generally poor reviews, Saratoga Trunk was among the top ten highest grossing pictures of the year, turning in an impressive $4,25 million at the box-office. 

Although I love both Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman and think they have great chemisty on the screen, I did not enjoy Saratoga Trunk as much as I thought I would, partly because I think Bergman was ill-suited to the role of Clio Dulaine. She screamed and shouted a lot and Cooper merely followed along. She dominated him a lot more than he dominated her, which is very unsual for a "he-man" like Gary Cooper. Furthermore, I think the plot was terribly confusing and somewhat empty. It looked as though two completely different films had been mashed together. When they moved to Saratoga in the second half of the picture, it seemed that they had completely forgotten about what happened before in New Orleans. However, the final scene between Cooper and Bergman is very funny and completely worthy of a screwball comedy of the 1930s. In conclusion, Saratoga Trunk is not a particularly good film, but it is still worth watching simply because of Cooper and Bergman's incredible sex appeal.

This is my contribution to The Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon hosted by The Wonderful World of Cinema. To view all entries, click HERE.

Edna Farber's Hollywood: American Fictions of Gender, Race and History by J. E. Smyth (2010) | Gary Cooper: American Hero by Jeffrey Meyers (2001) | Ingrid Bergman: The Life, Career and Public Image by David Smit (2012) | TCMDb (Articles) | TCMDb (Notes)