Grant and Bergman's Romance Suffers a Hitch
Having worked together on Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious", Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman were once more reunited in the 1958 romantic comedy "Indiscreet". The better of the two movies is with out a doubt "Notorious" but there is something special about watching Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman on screen together, a naturalness to the way they work with each other so even though "Indiscreet" is a troubled movie it still works because of its stars.
Whilst Anna Kalman (Ingrid Bergman - Arch of Triumph) may be a success when it comes to acting, she's not so successful at finding her dream man; in fact she's just about ready to give up. Having returned home to London early from a holiday, she gets a surprise when whilst putting on her face cream her sister, sister's husband and a handsome stranger Philip Adams (Cary Grant - Kiss Them for Me) walk in. Taken with the charming Philip, they find themselves in a love at first sight relationship even though he has told her that he is married. All is well until Philip's work requires him to head to New York for several months and Anna discovers that Philip has been lying to her, causing her to scheme her revenge on him.
"Indiscreet" starts in such a way that you wouldn't know it was a romantic comedy, in fact it takes nearly half the movie before we get any comedy at all. Director Stanley Donen spends that the first half of the movie almost meticulously building up the characters, situations and relationship between Anna and Philip, making it quite solidly a romantic movie. But in doing so you are left wondering whether you missed something, where the jokes were and it gives "Indiscreet" a rather strange feeling.
Hit the half way point and a major revelation and suddenly "Indiscreet" steps up a gear and starts throwing comedy at us, in fact the emphasis is taken off the romantic drama with now a strong focus on laughs. As such it is amusing, Ingrid Bergman delivering smile after smile with various facial expressions and devious plans is brilliantly comical. But this split, this first half romantic drama, second half comedy makes "Indiscreet" not only a hard movie to get into but also one which seems confused. If I didn't know better I would have said half way through production they decided that the romantic drama wasn't quite right so decide to make it funny.
A knock on effect of this sort of split movie is that the characters end up having split personalities. For the first half of "Indiscreet" Anna is relatively serious although distinctly loved up as she falls for the handsome Philip. But then the second half comes and now we have Anna as the woman scorned so to speak but a comical, playfully evil one and as such the shift in character doesn't quite work. Philip isn't so bad, basically throughout the entire movie he is just a handsome charmer. But there is still a split going from serious to comical.
The thing is that whilst the movie and characters suffer for this split between serious and comical the pairing of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman makes it work better than it should. Cary Grant as tall dark and handsome Philip is playing to type, the charmer, the ladies man and whilst some may say that Grant was just being himself it doesn't really matter as Grant was the best at playing this sort of character. Ingrid Bergman as Anna is just as brilliant and although I don't like the split in styles when the comedy side of the movie comes she is on fire, the devious, comical looks she give are just marvellous.
But whilst individually Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman both excel it is the naturalness between them which makes it a pleasure to watch. Watching Anna lying with her head in Philip's lap staring longingly up at him before he kisses her is so relaxed, so natural that you warm more and more to the characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Indiscreet" whilst entertaining thanks to the wonderful performances of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman is a flawed movie. The split in styles with the first half of the movie lacking in any comedy makes it a little confusing and when the comedy suddenly crops up it jars with what went before. The annoying thing is the comedy side of "Indiscreet" is great fun, it's just a shame the whole movie wasn't a comedy.