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Monday, 28 November 2011

Teaching him a lesson (Indiscreet)

Sample this. A woman falls in love with a man who is married but separated from his wife. She spends blissful hours with him not expecting him to divorce his estranged partner and marry her. But as soon as she learns of the real matter she starts seething with rage. It so happens that the married man she so loved is actually not married. He is a bachelor who was pretending to be married. Now, that should be good news for the woman. But no, this is bad news because he pretended to be married when he was not so. Which means that he was shirking all ties even when he was so much in love with her! Ahh... too confusing? Watch Stanley Donen's clever romantic comedy Indiscreet to comprehend the tricky situation.

Funny, subtle and extremely well-told, this 1958 romance stars Cary Grant as Philip Adams who becomes the subject of admiration of Anna Kalman (Ingrid Bergman), a single woman who is also a successful and recognised stage actress in London. Starting of with the sweet moments of love, the denouement is showcases a sheer ego battle of the sexes and ends with a fantastically witty yet contrived surrender of the man in love. Flummoxed at why the woman would conjure up a situation which is absolutely confounding, Philip proposes to Anna despite the fact that he is thoroughly befuddled by her antics. But the truth of the matter is that he loves her and feels too jealous of the David looming large over their life. He cannot have Anna spending time with David when he is away and wants Anna all to herself. Anna, the spinster, has at last hit the right button on the head. After several dissatisfying affairs she has managed to secure the love of the man she has fallen in love with. And, we go home smiling to ourselves thinking of how it all happened.
Anna has come back from an unfinished vacation and surprises her sister Margaret (Phyllis Calvert) and her husband Alfred (Cecil Parker) when she lands up suddenly in her London apartment. Right then Alfred introduces Anna to Philip, who is Alfred's friend and a dashing economist who might land up with the NATO in Paris soon. The two talk and figure out that they have certain common tastes. While Philip is a tad reticent, though charming, Anna loves to regale with her sprightly chatter. It's interesting how she tells Philip about her inspiration to become an actress. She says that a child she saw the stage production of Camille and decided that she wanted to be on the stage. The two start spending a lot of time together, and Philip decides to take up the NATO job so that he can be near to Anna. As the plan goes, Philip would fly to London from Paris every weekend to spend time with Anna and hence, even rents the suite below hers in the same apartment. They are together the whole night when he is in Paris and when he is not, they burn phone bills!
Life is going fine. Till we learn of Philip unmarried status. The sheer fact that he despises strings and attachment in a relationship has forced him to tell a lie to Anna. It so appears that he is loving the time he spends with her and revels in her company but that's about it. But this time it is no mean woman he is involved with. He tells Anna that he has to move to New York for work and Anna is devastated. But as soon as her brother-in-law tells her about Philip's unmarried status, instead of rejoicing about his single-hood, she fumes with rage. What on earth was he thinking? In Anna's words, "I am a woman wronged like no one has been before!" The exchanges between her sister and her are rather funny.
Margaret is scared that in anger Anna, as always, will do something foolish. Anna is impulsive, says Margaret. So she should remember 'Mama" before doing anything on haste and sullying the family name! But Margaret has other plans. She is too strong to break down so easily and her getting even will be only too entertaining.
After Charade, this was a very different film that is saw of Stanley Donen's. But his characteristic approach was prevalent. The dialogues are crisp, the editing is fabulous and the train of incidents are hilarious. What he did in the thriller Charade, he just twisted it to retain the romantic touch in Indiscreet. And the results are marvellous here too. And as experience counts, his Charade is only a much more rounded and expert version of his earlier films.
Cary Grant starts of in a very mellow fashion in Indiscreet.  He is suave and handsome but he does not have too many dialogues in here. In fact, in the ballroom scene when he suddenly starts dancing too much, I think it does not go with his prim and proper persona. But his romantic scenes with Bergman were remarkable.
The piece-d-resistance of this film is Ingrid Bergman. Despite being almost 43 years when this film was made, she is all glowing and radiant in the film. I just love her husky voice that gives her so much more dignity and elegance. Her clothes are glamorous and the gowns accentuate her lovely curves. Her smile is gorgeous. But it is her soft Swedish accent that makes her banter so adorable. And her comic timing is simply remarkable. Especially when she arches those eyebrows before making a sarcastic comment you know that this lady is now in her elements. This is the time when you sit down and be simply swept away by Bergman's charms...


  1. Yes,this was good, wasn't it? I did have a quibble with the ending, because I thought it seemed rather contrived. Ingrid Bergman was beeyootifool. Sigh.

  2. @Anu: I thought the ending happened rather suddenly without much development. But anything for Ingrid. She's a delight!!

  3. One film I haven't seen (and yes, coming from a fan of both Bergman and Grant, that IS shameful). But will make it a point to check this out now!

  4. @Dustedoff: Cool!! Great. It is available on Youtube also. A delightful one I tell you!

  5. 'Jhooti', 'Love in the Afternoon', 'Charade', 'Holiday' and 'Indiscreet'. So many movies to watch, but I have to lay my hands on the DVDs first :)

    Thanks for the reviews ... every time I read one, my GK on films and actors travel northward :)

    P.S. In 'Charade' it seems ... Cary Grant was a little apprehensive about the age difference between him and Audrey Hepburn - 25 years. And it was he who suggested that her character show her interest towards him or rather his character, instead of the other way round, so as not to look creepy.

  6. @Roshmi: Yup I read about that 'age difference' thingie. So chivalrous hain na?
    Yeah even I have so many films to watch. They just keep piling up and up. And I have two good films to write about also. They were super, just super!

  7. Two more good films? Waiting for the reviews then :) And it means two more in my 'to watch' list...