Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Normal Theater's Ingrid Bergman Celebration Begins Tonight

The 1944 psychological thriller Gaslight begins two weeks of Ingrid Bergman films at the Normal Theater. Gaslight will be screened at 7 pm tonight as a "Tuesday Night Classic" at Normal's classic movie theater.

And it's a great way to kick off a tribute to Ms. Bergman, since she won the first of three Oscars for her performance as Paula Anton, a new bride pushed to the limit when strange occurrences in her house -- the place where her aunt was murdered years ago -- threaten her sanity. Is Paula losing her mind? Or are there other forces at work that create the sound of footsteps overhead in a boarded-up attic and dim the gas lamps only in her presence? This is the film that created the term "gaslight" for the kind of scheme that makes someone appear mad. Gaslight co-stars Charles Boyer as Paula's debonair husband, Joseph Cotten as the Scotland Yard detective who investigates, and Angela Lansbury in her film debut as a housemaid who claims to hear and see nothing wrong. Lansbury was only 17 when she played the role, and she, like Boyer, was nominated for an Academy Award.

After Gaslight, which has just one showing, you'll have the choice of two other terrific Bergman films -- Murder on the Orient Express on May 20 and 22 and Notorious on May 26 and 28 -- as well as a documentary called Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words on May 18, 21, 27 and 29.

Murder on the Orient Express is a 1974 film adaptation of the famous Agatha Christie novel (originally called Murder on the Calais Coach) with Albert Finney as detective Hercule Poirot and Lauren Bacall, Colin Blakely, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Denis Quilley, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Michael York and -- of course -- Ingrid Bergman among the suspects when a passenger is murdered during the night on a train stranded by snow. Bergman's role as a timid, frumpy Swedish missionary named Greta Ohlsson couldn't be further from Paula Anton in Gaslight or Alicia Huberman in Notorious, showing off her versatility, and it earned her her third Oscar.

Murder on the Orient Express will be on screen at the Normal Theater at 7 pm on Friday, May 20 and Sunday, May 22.

The last Bergman film on the schedule is Notorious, my personal favorite. She's paired with Cary Grant and that is a romantic duo that works very, very well. Notorious is a Hitchcock gem from 1946, with Bergman as a "notorious" woman, a party girl living life in the fast lane ever since her German father was convicted of treason in Miami. The fact that her dad was a Nazi has given Alicia a bad reputation, too. But Grant's Devlin, a CIA type, picks her up and talks her into a dangerous proposition -- infiltrating a group of Nazis hiding out in Brazil, lead by Alexander Sebastian, played by Claude Rains. Alicia is supposed to get Sebastian to fall for her so she can gather intel on his cabal's super-secret plans. While she and Devlin are falling in love, it's his job to convince her to romance (and presumably sleep with) Sebastian, which put a serious crimp in their relationship. And then there's Sebastian's mom, a poisonous viper who doesn't trust Alicia as far as she can throw her.

You can catch (and you must catch!) Notorious at 7 pm on Thursday, May 26, and Saturday, May 28. NOT. TO. BE. MISSED.

As for Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words, here's the scoop on the documentary:
"In spring 2011, director Stig Björkman meets Ingrid Bergman's daughter Isabella Rossellini and she suggests him to "make a film about Mama". Through Isabella, Stig is able to tell Ingrid's story through her own words and images. Seven time Academy Award-nominee and three time Academy Award-winner Ingrid Bergman was one of the most talented actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age with great performances in films such as CASABLANCA (1942), GASLIGHT (1944) and and AUTUMN SONATA (1978). Through never-before-seen private footage, notes, letters, diaries and interviews with her children, this documentary presents a personal portrait and captivating look behind the scenes of the remarkable life of a young Swedish girl who became one of the most celebrated actresses of American and World cinema."
Ingrid Bergman saw stardom and scandal in her life, with three marriages, three divorces, four children, and when it came to the Academy Awards, three wins and seven nominations. She starred opposite some of Hollywood's finest, bringing out the best in Charles Boyer and Cary Grant as well as Humphrey Bogart, Yul Brynner, Gary Cooper, Joseph Cotten, Bing Crosby, Paul Henreid, Leslie Howard, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Claude Rains and Spencer Tracy. And, for that matter, Liv Ullman and Goldie Hawn. On screen, she glowed. Off screen... Well, you'll have to see Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words at 7 pm on Wednesday, May 18, Saturday, May 21, Friday May 27 or Sunday, May 29 to get the full picture.

Click here for the Normal Theater's May schedule.

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