best film: Casablanca is the winner here though Notorious is a masterpiece as well and I owe Rossellini’s Journey to Italy another view. Casablanca is deserving of its reputation and iconic status. Curtiz isn’t Welles or Ford but he directs the hell out of this one film and of course it has one of the best screenplays in Hollywood history.  Chief amongst the reasons to appreciate Casablanca are the lead performances by Bogart and Bergman. It’s Bogart’s speech at the end and he’s the lead, but its Bergman’s face, nuance and emotion (while he’s steady) that help carry the film—enough for me to call it the co-lead.

best performance:  Casablanca though I’d accept Notorious here as well (honestly many in the art-house world would pick Journey to Italy). I think her work in Casablanca is among the best 25 female acting performances of all-time so I’m ignoring that it’s Bogart who people think of first. They’re a pair—and repeat viewings make you appreciate Bergman’s unapproachable talent.

stylistic innovations/traits: Bergman had 17 films so she’s right there with Streep and Hepburn (and everyone else) as far as sheer volume of archiveable film performances. What separates Bergman (ever so slightly) in my mind is that Notorious performance and her work with Rossellini. Yes, she’s in Casablanca and had a great Hollywood career—full stop— but I believe she delivers a second best performance that is actually, arguably, better than any one single performance by Hepburn or Streep. I think I’d take Bergman in Notorious as a SECOND top 25 performance by a female in the history of film. That’s incredible. The only other actress I can think of who I would nominate for that would be Masina and Masina has a total of 7 archiveable films and simply can’t compete with the sheer volume of fantastic work by the likes of Bergman, Hepburn or Streep. As for Rossellini, their four films together in the 1950’s are massively underrated (due to how hard they were to find for the longest time). It’s neo-realism (or a slight evolution of) and Bergman is a great vehicle for Rossellini’s art.

directors worked with:  Rossellini (4) and this is key work with a top-tier auteur. Hitchcock (2)- it’s a little sad of what might have been if they had continued to work together in the 50’s. and then It’s Bergman, Lumet, Renoir, Cukor once

Top 10 Performances:

  1. Casablanca
  2. Notorious
  3. Journey to Italy
  4. Stromboli
  5. Fear
  6. Autumn Sonata
  7. Europa 51’
  8. Gaslight
  9. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  10. Elena and Her Men

Archiveable films

1936- Intermezzo
1942- Casablanca
1943- For Whom the Bell Tolls
1944- Gaslight
1945- Spellbound
1945- The Bells of St. Mary’s
1946- Notorious
1948- Joan of Arc
1950- Stromboli
1952- Europa 51′
1954- Journey to
1954- Fear
1956- Anastasia
1956- Elena and Her Men
1958- Indiscreet
1974- Murder on the Orient Express
1978- Autumn Sonata