The Golden Age of Hollywood

Celebrating Ingrid Bergman's Birthday with a Riveting Film

It's Ingrid Bergman as you've never seen her before---icy, hard, and incredibly vindictive--- in 1964's The Visit, which my husband and I watched today in honor of Miss Bergman's August 29th birthday.  Also starring Anthony Quinn, this gripping drama features supporting help from (among others) Claude Dauphin, Irina Demick, and Valentina Cortese. Based on Friedrich Durrenmatt's play Der Besuch der alten DameThe Visit received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design.  (For the record, I think Ingrid ought to have received a Lead Actress nomination.)

Two decades after leaving her small European hometown, Carla Zachanassian (Ingrid Bergman) returns for a visit---but it is not any kind of happy reunion she's seeking.  Rather, she has returned to destroy the man who disgraced her when she was a teenager.  Serge Miller (Anthony Quinn) had been her boyfriend/lover, but when Carla found herself pregnant, he refused to marry her. Beyond that, he bribed two men to testify that they had had relations with her, implicating her as a promiscuous woman.  Driven out of town because of her reputation and pregnancy, Carla fell into prostitution.

Now a rich and powerful widow, Carla wants revenge on Serge, and the way she accomplishes it provides for a powerful, riveting film---tackling such issues as greed, corruption, and hypocrisy.

As expected, this is not a feel-good film.  In fact, it's rather difficult to watch, especially as one by one, the townspeople, corrupted by greed, turn on Serge.  While both Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Quinn are fantastic in their roles, Ingrid's performance is absolute mesmerizing.  I have never seen her this icy, hard, bitter, and unforgiving.  Wow!  She really "blew me away" with her portrayal of the revenge-minded Carla.  

Made available on DVD in late 2012, The Visit is part of the inventory of Classic Flix.  It is also periodically on Fox Movie Channel (which is where I caught it).  If you like Ingrid Bergman (as I do), you will want to track this film down to catch her in what I feel is probably her most evil role. Her fabulous performance will not disappoint.

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Comment by Patti on August 30, 2017 at 3:14pm

Rosie, you're right she wasn't evil.  That was a poor word choice.  She was bitter, hard, and icy---adjectives that usually do not define an Ingrid Bergman role.  Truly, Ingrid played the part to utter perfection.

Comment by Rosie Sayer on August 30, 2017 at 10:22am

I first saw this movie on TV when I was 18 or 19 and had been looking for it ever since until I finally got it on DVD--unfortunately a pan-and-scan butchered version, because it was filmed in widescreen format. But it is an amazing movie, the ultimate revenge film.

I didn't find Ingrid's character evil at all. She was seeking retribution, and I think that the retribution she sought was completely fair. I thought that Serge and the townspeople were the evil ones. They were hypocrites and perfectly willing to hurt others for their own gain. I loved the way she exposed their lack of character.

I think that in a few scenes, Carla came close to softening up to Serge due to their natural chemistry, but she stopped herself in time by remembering what a rat he really was. He did not deserve her sympathy or love, or any second chances.

I've never talked to anyone besides you, Patti, who has also seen this film. I'm glad it was shown on TV. Even in its butchered form, it deserves to be seen.

Thanks for your interesting review!

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