Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Intermezzo- a Love Story (1939)

Intermezzo, a Love Story is a highly symbolic story about a married man Holger Brandt (Leslie Howard) who meets a younger, unmarried woman, Anita (Ingrid Bergman in her first American film), they fall in love over their passion for music, they get together and then realize they have no future and decide to move on. It’s a Winter-Spring romance emphasized after a shared meal that ends on a bridge with the soon-to-be lovers looking down upon the melting ice that slowly rolls along with the river, symbolizing the arrival of Spring and a new season in their lives.
Further symbolism can be seen in what isn’t said. All the characters use music to speak their truths when words fail them either by playing it themselves or listening to it on the radio. We also learn of the two lovers styles through their music. Both Anita and Holger are bold but Anita plays with an open passion that speaks of her youthfulness while Holger’s playing is gentle and sentimental, bold but in a well honed, wise way.
Intermezzo is interesting in what it doesn’t show on film. Both the love affair and the confrontation between Holger and his wife Margit (Edna Best) about the affair take place off the screen making the film refreshingly brief (only 70 minutes long) while not taking away the impact of what’s happening between the characters. It also makes Intermezzo a fitting title- a Love Story was only added on after Selznick (probably via several memos) decided that the audience would be confused by the sole word, Intermezzo.

Side note:

I was watching The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind (1988) a while back and learned that David O. Selznick bribed Leslie Howard into accepting the role of Ashley by giving him the right to co-produce Intermezzo. Producing is something that Howard yearned to do for a long time.


  1. Ingrid is so beautiful and charming in this movie. I found myself struggling with my old Leslie Howard indifference, though. Still a great script and for a post-code film, it is surprisingly grown up about the subject matter.

    I didn't know GWTW figured into it! Thanks.

  2. This movie looks intriguing. And I love the photos. I like Leslie Howard (even though I've only seen him in 2 films) and I would really like to check this one out.

  3. Intermezzo is a beautifully made classic! I've seen this movie countless times! Love it! <3


  4. "Intermezzo" is a beautifully photographed, bittersweet story about a the love affair between a concert violinist (Leslie Howard) and a pianist (Ingrid Bergman). This was Bergman's second time at the role, the first time being in her native Sweden. This film catapulted her to fame. Her natural beauty and freshness is shown to wonderful advantage here, as is her sensitive acting in the role of Anita Hoffman. I Love this movie...

  5. Anyone else notice the shared theme music between this film and DODSWORTH? Not the classical music, but the composed incidental theme that plays in the Edna Best/ Bergman scene and which plays throughout DODSWORTH, and which is a principal musical motif in that film. Strange, as Steiner and Bennett are supposedly the composers for INTERMEZZO and Newman for DODSWORTH.