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Best Actress Bracket Game: Olivia de Havilland Vs. Ingrid Bergman

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The brackets in our Best Actress game are arranged in roughly chronological order.  Both of our contestants in today’s match had long and distinguished careers.  But they both rose to prominence in the late 30’s and early 40’s.  For the purposes of today’s article, I’ll be concentrating largely on this part of their careers.  We’ll continue exploring the career of the winner in the next round.

But first, let’s take a look at the results from our first match.

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This one was close.  Honestly, it was closer than I expected it to be.  I figured the iconic status of Scarlett O’hara would carry Vivien Leigh to a relatively easy victory.  But Bette Davis didn’t go down without a fight.  Ultimately, two votes separated these legendary actresses.  Leigh did come away victorious with just over 50% of the votes.  We’ll take a look at her second Oscar win in round two where she will face off against the winner of today’s match.

In the thirties, Olivia de Havilland costarred with Errol Flynn in several of the matinee idol’s most popular films including Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Adventures of Robin Hood.  The role she is probably best known for is Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind.  De Havilland had to convince Jack Warner of Warner Brothers to allow her to make the movie for a rival studio.  Her efforts paid off in the form of her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  Her costar, Hattie McDaniel, actually won the award but de Havilland would be nominated again.

Two years later, de Havilland was nominated for the first time in the Leading Role category for Hold Back the Dawn.  Her sister, Joan Fontaine, took home the prize for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Suspicion.  (A movie not unlike one we’ll be talking about soon).  Then in 1946, de Havilland finally won her first Oscar for Best Actress in the WWII romance, To Each His Own.

De Havilland’s win resulted in an infamous Oscar moment.  She and her sister had feuded since they were children.  Fontaine, who had already won an Oscar, had just presented the award for Best Actor.  She stuck around backstage to congratulate her sister on her victory, but de Havilland wasn’t having it.  Photographers captured the moment when she snubbed her sister reportedly saying “”I don’t know why she does that when she knows how I feel.”

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De Havilland went on to win her second Best Actress Oscar in 1949 for The Heiress.  But we’ll save taht for the second round in case she makes it that far.

Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish import brought to Hollywood by legendary producer David O. Selznick.  In 1942, she starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca which made her a star.  Bergman received her first Oscar nomination for the big screen adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.  But she lost to Jennifer Jones who was nominated for The Song of Bernadette.

In 1944, Bergman won her first of two Best Actress Oscars for playing a woman slowly driven crazy by her husband in Gaslight.  In the movie, which is based on a British play from the 1930’s,  Charles Boyer slowly dims the lights while trying to convince Bergman that the rooms haven’t grown darker.  The term “gaslight” has taken on new relevance in our “post factual” society as at least one prominent leader has been accused of gaslighting the country.

Bergman would be nominated again in 1945 for the Bing Crosby sequel, The Bells of St. Mary’s and in 1949 for Joan of Arc.  In the 50’s, the actress was caught up in a scandal that could only be a scandal in the 1950’s.  Her affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini ruined her Hollywood career.  In a development that may remind some readers of modern events, Bergman was denounced in the Senate for her extramarital activities and fled the United States.  But we’ll talk about that in greater detail should Bergman advance to the second round.

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Posted on February 7, 2017, in Awards, bracket game, Movies, Oscars and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. This one hurt. I went with Ingrid though. CASABLANCA is in my top favorite movies of all-time. And Ingrid actually won 3 Oscars, not 2.

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  2. As far as I am concerned, Casablanca is one of the greatest films ever made. That’s how much I love the movie. I’m sure it would have been all too easy to make that a focus of Bergman’s career, but Lebeau you summed it up succinctly in one sentence.

    While my love for Casablanca runs deep, I shamefully admit that I haven’t seen many of Bergman’s films beyond that. This is a question to goes out to everybody, beyond Casablanca what Bergman film am I missing out on the most?

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    • I downplayed Casablanca because while it is the movie Bergman is best remembered for, it didn’t bring her any Oscar attention. (8 nominations and 3 wins, but nothing for Bergman)

      I was mildly obsessed with Ingrid Bergman in high school, so I’m more than happy to make a few recommendations.

      Daffy did an entire article on For Whom the Bell Tolls. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s worth a look.

      Gaslight is a terrific psychological thriller. It’s not Hitchcock, but it feels like the Hitchcock movies of the era.

      Of course Bergman was one of Hitchcock’s preferred blondes. Their first collaboration, Spellbound, is a bit cheesy but the dream sequence by Salvador Dali is a keeper. Notorious is a genuine classic. One of Hitch’s best movies. If I were going to recommend one single movie outside of Casablanca, it would be Notorious. She also starred in Under Capricorn and Indiscreet.

      Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a solid adaptation. The Bells of St. Mary’s is better than the movie that preceded it, Going My Way. Anastasia was Bergman’s big comeback which we will discuss in round 2 should she make it that far. Cactus Flower is a fun 60’s comedy relatively late in Bergman’s career. Murder on the Orient Express is a good Agatha Christie adaptation with lots of star power. Autumn Sonata is a powerful final film performance if you like Ingmar Bergman.

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  3. This is a very close call for me. As anyone who reads the article I wrote back on her birthday can see (it was August 29), I am a big Ingrid Bergman fan. But as anyone who sticks around for next July 1 will see, I am also a big fan of OIivia de Havilland. She was a lovely heroine for Errol Flynn, a splendid Melanie Wilkes, and she had that great run in the late forties with three Best Actress nominations in four years, and two wins. That’s not to mention the historic importance of her lawsuit against Warner Brothers, which I will save for her birthday. 🙂

    A very narrow vote for Bergman. But I would be happy with either actress moving on.

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  4. Just wanted to note, centenarian Olivia de Havilland is one of those actresses that many people assume is dead, but is still alive, and in fact came out with a book last year.

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  5. I’m not particularly passionate about either actress, but I choose Ingrid Bergman, as I’m more familiar with her and liked what I’ve seen out of her.

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  6. When Olivia De Havilland hit 100 years old, TCM showed a bunch offer movies and my mom and I watched several. I gained a greater respect for her talents. That made this choice more difficult.

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  7. was kirk douglas ever a draw in his heyday like his son

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  8. My vote is for Ingrid Bergman, maybe only because of this beautiful song by Billy Bragg & Wilco (words by Woody Guthrie)

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