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 Dame, The 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.