My current Top 5

My current Top 5

6/22/2011

Number 74: Ingrid Bergman as Greta Ohlsson in "Murder on the Orient-Express" (Best Supporting Actress Ranking)

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 have to confess that I am torn when it comes to this performance – on the one hand I like what Ingrid Bergman did here and I think she is by far the most memorable cast member but on the other hand I also realize how little she actually gets to do and how she is trying to hide this behind certain gimmicks in her performance. I do like that she brought some complexity to her part during her five-minute scene and that she shows how much Greta is actually hiding inside but at the same time – acting choices like looking desperate when Poitot asks her about her time in America or scared when he asks her why she is making this trip don’t really need much time to be thought-out and would also probably be made by an acting student in her first semester.

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?

7 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

This is a weird win, I suppose but I love (superlative, superlative) Ingrid in GASLIGHT. One of my favourite performances.

Fritz said...

Yep, she's fantastic in Gaslight!

Louis Morgan said...

I basically agree, especially with the fact that she actually seems able it stand out much more than the rest of the cast, unfortuantely that really is not saying a whole lot.

Anonymous said...

This performance lacks quantity and (because of that)some depth,but she does 100% of what she can.Nomination would've been worthy,but not a win.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought she was amazing, I certainly disagree, I really don't like the film that much but I actually think she was a deserving winner, I thought it would be much worse.

mrripley said...

I preferred wendy hiller!!!

dinasztie said...

Shoot me, but I think she deserved to win. :)