JOAN OF ARC
Ingrid Bergman is effective and convincing in this Joan. She is especially affecting in scenes where she is personally hurt and brought to tears: 1) when the French court dupes and mocks her; 2) when the enemy, from the ramparts, calls her a harlot; 3) when she learns that Charles has betrayed their cause. She is marvelously beautiful here; and while well beyond Joan’s years, her gestures and movements (along with costuming and camera angles) contribute to an illusion of youth.
In the scenes of the trial and her execution, Bergman’s performance has been tampered with. It has been edited in such a way that disparity of makeup and even discontinuity of bodily motion are very evident. At other points it seemed to me that Ingrid Bergman is close to looking ridiculous in her armour. Perhaps Joan did. Certainly many of her enemies — and some of her confederates — thought so. And we know that Shakespeare found her preposterous.
What in the world was Variety‘s viewer thinking of when he wrote of a “dream supporting cast”? The film is filled with good actors like J. Carrol Naish and Gene Lockhart and several others. But most of these longtime Hollywood players sound hopelessly Midwest, U.S.A. They shatter any illusion of medieval France, their elaborate costumes notwithstanding. On him, Lockharf’s headgear is especially ridiculous.
José Ferrer is fascinating and amusing bouncing about as the immature Charles. We were all taken with him at the time which was before we knew that he really couldn’t act and that what we were watching was what he would always do.
Ingrid Bergman writes in her book that Victor Fleming loved Joan and loved this screenplay and very much wanted to make this film. But while talky, Joan of Arc is shallow. It clearly hopes to move beyond the sentimentality that passed for religion in the Hollywood of its time; but it is unevenly successful, not just in that regard but in most respects. Even the color is uneven (but that might be because of the available print — I saw it recently on TCM). It is studio-bound, particularly noticeable in the battle sequences, though these are well edited.
Quibble: During her imprisonment while on trial Joan wears fetters. Ingrid Bergman does an excellent faking of finding it difficult to walk, but what are supposedly fetters are obviously so loose that she should have had no problem moving with ease..
TO BE CONTINUED: Please come back on Friday January 3 for “Ingrid Bergman as Saint Joan — Part Two.”
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KURTIS HARE COMMENT: Don’t miss the comment by Kurtis Hare on my questions concerning To the Wonder (my blog of December 6) Click on COMMENTS. His is the first one.
AKRON FILM + PIXEL AT FIRST NIGHT
For those of my rreaders within easy reach of Akron, Ohio, Akron Film + Pixel will be running a 30 minute compilation pf short films from 6:00 – 8:00 P.M. at Akron’s annual First Night, December 31st. “Drop in any time.” (The Akron Art Museum Auditorium.)
NEXT POST Friday, January 3.
See you at the movies,