We Should Have a Swinging Affair…
An actress meets the man of her dreams, but he says he’s married… but just how married is he?
INDISCRET (INDISCREET) de Stanley Donen – Official trailer – 1958, FURY (NB TRAILER IN ENGLISH WITH FRENCH SUBTITLES) © photos from Warner Bros
As a homesick Scottish gal, watching the trailer for Indiscreet (1958) I noticed the always lovely Cary Grant with Ingrid Bergman dance that Scottish ceilidh ( = a Scottish dance event) favourite, The Eightsome Reel. This a Scottish dance that strikes horror into the heart of every (not necessarily) Scottish man – unless they are extremely drunk at a wedding – as learnt as a kid at school and then (hoped to be) forgotten.
This dance, only vaguely remembered decades later as their beloved drag them up to the dance floor at their best pal’s wedding. Where no one remembers the dance, apart from one ex-pat English man.
After this dance is over, all men look eagerly forward to the Slosh. This dance is usually performed by the bride, her bridesmaids and most of the women present. This on first impressions of seeing it looks like a kind of drunken all-girl tribal fertility dance. But for the groom, fear and a much-needed break from meeting all those long-lost cousins, aunties etc.
Anyway, enough gittering. After seeing this trailer – and mentally awarding a Best Dancing Ensemble Academy Award to the cast for mastering the dance so well – I was keen on just how this dance would add to the plot.
This despite seeing only two men in kilts (= Scottish skirt worn by men and women. Seen on and off Outlander‘s Sam Heughan as quickly as you can say porridge.) in the scene. Anyway enough of my Scottish gitterings, on with the review.
This Stanley Donen movie tells the story of a middle-aged successful actress Anna Kalman (Bergman). Anna returns to her London home after her most recent relationship ended. No one expecting her least of all her family and servants, Carl and Doris Banks (Megs Jenkins and David Kossoff).
Her sister Margaret appears with her diplomat husband Alfred unexpectedly. They are on the way to his work dinner function at the Foreign Office. We discover during the sisterly catch-up, Anna is often matched up with who she feels are undesirable men by her well-meaning, sister.
Suddenly he appears, a greying at the temples, but still suave and perfectly chiselled, Cary Grant as Philip. As Anna – her face covered with night cream – meets the “extra”- man for this function. Margaret tries to convince Anna to attend this dinner function to make up the numbers. Anna is also gently coaxed by the rather dishy, very handsome, Philip (Cary Grant). After Anna agrees, Alfred phones asking for an extra seat for her next to Philip.
Needless to say, Anna is besotted immediately (and who can blame her seeing Grant in a tux with that voice and presence), at once the pair have a fun, flirtatious humour and easy rapport. It’s like two stars collided in a good way. More than apparent both are attracted big time to the other. TBH like Anna, I was taken by the charming Philip.
I didn’t really hear his economic stance on hard currency. He could have been reading the phone book. After a successful evening out, he stays with her for an hour before his train. Her sister and husband leave
her to it. Philip and Anna’s flirty behaviour continues, they open up to each other and seem relaxed in each others company and they have lots in common. And both are fun storytellers making each other laugh.
After he turns her down for a date at the ballet. Philip reveals he’s a married man. And he’s separated, she’s not with him in England but in the States. Immediately, it’s as awkward as hell between the pair. She’s embarrassed and laughs, almost to break that tension.
Anna jokes with him about her life as a single gal at her age. She tells how when her dates are revealed as married men, they are full of
shit promises to leave their wife or that their wife doesn’t understand them. So he being honest from the start, is as rare as an Oscar win for Ed Harris.
After he leaves, Anna realises how attracted she is to him, and thinks WTF and asks him on the date again. Philip agrees. Leading to a wonderful first date where they talk for hours almost missing the first act of the ballet.
This a cue for lots of dates, loved up phone calls (he calls her dearest and darling in a way only Cary Grant can), soppy scenes, marvellously constructed montages and a splendid split-screen scene. Philip’s asked to work in America for a few months. Anna’s crestfallen, and she immediately proposes marriage and that he leaves his wife for her. The pair agree to carry on as a couple for this short time apart.
On sharing this news with her sister and brother-in-law, (insightful) Alfred suggests to Philip they leave the women to talk about it (as girls do). Philip confides with Alfred, on how he intends to surprise Anna, reappearing later that week, for her birthday at midnight.
We find out another bombshell, as Alfred confronts him. It turns out Philip isn’t married, as he’s not the “marrying kind”… As he leads Anna on his merry dance, I’ll let you learn the rest for yourself.
I adored this movie. Grant and Bergman showed a wonderful on-screen relationship in each others company and in their scenes with others. Both had an easy rapport together in the comic, romantic and dramatic scenes reflected in their natural authentic acting styles, This meant it was easy to relate to their characters through their credible performances.
The witty script calling for two middle-aged acting names couldn’t have picked better, and this movie script feels refreshing with these particular more mature leads. The then greying Grant and Bergman are believable as a loved up couple, and with more chemistry than some of those (off and onscreen) married couples of film.
With the film shot in Technicolor, its sparkling script and splendid cast feels more respectful to these actors in their ageless performances. Compared to Teacher’s Pet (1958) where Clark Gable despite giving his all, was seen in many scenes surrounded by much older actors.
This Gable film made in the same year as Indiscreet was made in Black in White to detract from his age (3 or 4 years older than Grant), inadvertently reinforced it in some of the written scenes and when he was seen with obviously more mature extras. This is ironically not noticed in his scenes with Day and Young, his younger co-stars.
I adored seeing Bergman as Anna, more believable in her portrayal of an actress than Julia Roberts as a different Anna but also an in an actress role in Notting Hill (1999). In Bergman’s portrayal of this character, she made her character easy to feel empathy with. I thought her character Anna, seemed a more honest observance of a woman dating in middle age.
She was a refreshing change from the similarly aged “Bridget Jones” singleton. In comparison, Bridget herself seems more contrived, immature, desperate and annoying. Bergman bringing her character a relevant and more mature look on life as a single woman.
I loved Anna’s honestly, ease and rapport with Philip which I found (around a similar age) when meeting my Darlin Husband. And it lovely at that moment, when she acts on her initial attraction to him, she asked him on a date. And when she asked again knowing he was separated, She knew that as well fancying him, he was genuine, they could have fun together and she could trust him. And that is what many women want at any age in a man.
Calvert as her sister was a delight and her character’s traits all too familiar. In her BFF role, her behaviour will be familiar to women everywhere. All of us will have recognised that sisterly “Go for it” look when she left her sister with Philip, after that function. And her “casually” dropping by.. just to find out more on the man of the moment.
Her concerns for her sister, on learning he was (and later wasn’t) married, were a joy. I loved the fantastically cast Parker as Alfred. Suitably cast as his fussy, fastidious but instinctive British diplomat. All the characters and acting talent for this film were perfectly matched.
I loved the timeless romance of it all, in the loved up pair of Anna and Philip in their realistically written scenes together. And in that charming split-screen scene and well-conceived montage. In the split-screen, Grant and Bergman’s movements mirroring each other and then complimenting each other. It was wonderfully choreographed with you almost believing them in the same bed. If it wasn’t for the tell-tale split screen bar in the middle.
The montage showing their developing love affair including a Christmassy scene reminding me of Deadpool (2016) was endearing. I’ll end here on a wee Dallas related fact (just because I can), the actress Mary Martin – and Larry Hagman’s mum – was in the original Broadway play Kind Sir. This film is based on the play and Martin in what would be Bergman’s role.
And returning back to those retro days. I discovered to my initial joy that this film was remade in the 1980s. I thought it a must-see with a cast of Robert Wagner as Philip and Lesley Ann Down, his leading lady as Anna. However, on seeing the trailer, I was sadly dismayed. Both lacking in that sparkling on-screen chemistry that I enjoyed so much in this original film.
Wagner having much more credibility as husband to Stephanie Powers in Hart to Hart (1979-84). Down with
the incredible Hulk her on-screen love interest, Bill Bixby in Murder is Easy (1982). And so I waltzed off to watch Indiscreet’s charismatic acting pair – in reprising their on-screen chemistry instead. This to watch an earlier joint Bergman-Grant film, as two of Hitchcock’s most Notorious (1946) lovers.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂🙂🙂🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: 0/10
This film was added to In The Wonderful World of Cinema‘s 4th Wonderful Ingrid Bergman blogathon. Other films with this cast include Ingrid Bergman in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler and Murder on the Orient Express. Cary Grant stars in my Arsenic and Old Lace, North by Northwest, An Affair to Remember and as one of my 5 Golden Hollywood Greats.