review for Intermezzo on AllMovie

Intermezzo (1939)
by Craig Butler review

The film that introduced Ingrid Bergman to an adoring American public, Intermezzo is pure, old-fashioned melodrama. Were it to be attempted today, the result would be pure schmaltz, but Intermezzo succeeds because its creators seem to believe in its story, and therefore make the audience care about it too. They also know that this kind of story works best if the viewer doesn't have time to think too carefully as he or she is watching it, and so they keep it to an incredibly brief 70 minutes. Director Gregory Ratoff keeps the pacing swift and turns in some of his best work here. He is helped immeasurably, of course, by Bergman. Radiant, exuberant, and totally mesmerizing, Bergman combines stunning beauty and dramatic intelligence with an intuitive sense of "movie star" acting, to give a performance that is a pleasure to watch. She practically glows in every scene, her joy in simply appearing onscreen coming through in every frame. Leslie Howard has a hard time keeping up with her, and on the whole, his performance is rather perfunctory; however, there is a chemistry between the two stars and that makes up for his otherwise bland portrayal. Bergman's career stalled somewhat after Intermezzo, with several films that didn't capitalize on her unique talents, but it was jump-started again in 1942 with Casablanca.