As Katharine Hepburn once said, all the right actors win Oscar, but for the wrong roles. For most people, Ingrid Bergman is the best example for this since none of her three Oscar wins seem universally loved. Her most controversial win was for Supporting Actress.
Ingrid Bergman plays Greta Ohlsson, a simple-minded (or as she says it: “born backwards”) nurse who is one of the suspects in a murder case on the Orient Express.
I confess – her performance works. When she suddenly begins to cry because of her non-religious parents or moves her head away, hunted by her memories when Poirot accuses her touch me deeply. But at the same time I just can’t help and think ‘Really? That’s it?`
I think that Ingrid Bergman succeeded where Gloria Grahame failed – she turned her nothing role into a kind of scene-stealer but the level of success is still so incredibly low that it’s very easy to praise her even though she didn’t really do anything. The awful truth is that the part of Greta Ohlsson is a big ‘nothing’ that was only turned memorable by Ingrid Bergman’s tics and mannerisms – or, as would probably be a better word, gimmicks. So, in the end, I have to ask myself: did she fool me with these gimmicks? Did her awkward smile, her stutter or her accent really fool me so much that I saw things in a performance that weren’t there? Well, I hope not – I may like this performance but as you can see from the position in this ranking that still does not mean that I appreciate it very highly.
It’s a very interesting approach by Miss Bergman and I applaud her for not failing completely but again – how could she fail when her role didn’t ask anything from her?