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Cary Grant 4-Disc Collector's Set

1958 / Color / 1:66 flat letterboxed / 100 min. / Street Date January 8, 2008 / Part of the Cary Grant 4-Disc Collector's Set with Operation Petticoat, The Grass Is Always Greener and That Touch of Mink 34.98
Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Cecil Parker, Phyllis Calvert, David Kossoff, Megs Jenkins
Cinematography Frederick Young
Art Direction Don Ashton
Film Editor Jack Harris
Original Music Richard Rodney Bennett
Written by Norman Krasna from his play Kind Sir
Produced and Directed by Stanley Donen

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Indiscreet is an elegant romantic comedy from the end of the classic era. It's a direct precursor of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies, yet still generates the sentiment of an old-fashioned screen romance, complete with a rhapsodic score. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman apparently fall in love at first sight, even though her face happens to be covered with cold cream. The sign of sophistication is that nobody even mentions the cold cream. Doris Day would have flown from the room in panic, but both Bergman and Grant are too self-possessed and mature to acknowledge such a triviality. Indiscreet has more interesting man-woman issues to debate. Rising talent Stanley Donen directs from Norman Krasna's (Hands Across the Table, The Devil and Miss Jones) script, adapted from his play Kind Sir.


On the rebound from a failed romance, London stage star Anna Kalman (Ingrid Bergman) meets a man too good to be true, international financier Philip Adams (Cary Grant). Philip is smitten with Anna as well, and an affair begins despite the fact that he's separated from his wife and cannot obtain a divorce. Philip takes a NATO job to be near Anna and they spend a splendid season together. Then Anna's sister and brother-in-law Margaret and Alfred Munson (Phyllis Calvert and Cecil Parker) discover that Philip is hiding something about himself....

Seen in a good presentation, Indiscreet is a knockout from all directions. Newly readmitted to the ranks of bankable movie stars, Ingrid Bergman proudly plays a fictional version of herself, a famous woman of affairs who openly states that she's willing to abandon her acting career to follow the man she loves. Fittingly, in her first appearance she carries a box of Kleenex, perhaps letting us know that deep feelings are about to be exposed.

Anna Kalman's romance with the urbane Philip Adams begins as a good-natured fairy tale. She's rich and famous, he's rich and important, and when they walk together a chauffeured Rolls Royce follows at a discreet distance. Anna's wardrobe is by Christian Dior, and her apartment is a designer's dream. Anna and Philip are so well to do that he can fly in from Paris for weekends and rent an extra flat in Anna's building for the sake of convenience and propriety. He showers her with gifts, and buys a yacht for their getaways. The miracle beneath all this material wish fulfillment is that one look at Anna and Philip together convinces us that it's all for pure love. The lovers hold hands and smile, and our cynicism melts away. When chemistry like that works in a movie, little else matters.

As one would expect from a filmed play, most of the comedy is character-driven. Phyllis Calvert and Cecil Parker are amusing relatives, matchmaking busybodies that have Anna's best interest at heart. In place of mistaken identity or misplaced jealousy, Indiscreet examines the testy politics of love. We wonder about Philip's true nature, hidden behind Cary Grant's faultless charm. When they first meet Philip is clear about his status: "There is no Mrs. Adams." But a couple of hours later he reverses himself, claiming a misunderstanding. There is a Mrs. Adams but their estranged relationship is such a cliché that he doesn't expect anyone to believe it. By then it is already too late, as Anna is hooked. After only a couple of dates, she brings Philip back to her apartment, and not for a goodnight drink. In 1958 sex activity of this sort was usually reserved for serious dramas with a moral attitude, or the neotrash soaps like Peyton Place. In light comedies, something always interceded to keep the lovers out of bed.

(Spoilers) Anna has bravely accepted the fact that Philip cannot marry her, and is willing to change her entire life to please him. Is Philip a thoughtful romantic or a dishonest opportunist? Philip says that he lies because women aim for a marriage proposal no matter how much he protests that he'll never marry. "They even take it as a challenge", he complains. So when Philip meets a desirable woman, he claims that he's not available. This might work for a dazzler as charming as Cary Grant, in a fantasy where one's marital status can be hidden from outside scrutiny. In the real world Philip's dishonesty usually takes the form of a cruel scam on a gullible partner. Of course, there are always degrees of intent. How many girls and women tell their dates that they are 'just going out for fun' because they have a real boyfriend far away somewhere, to whom they're committed?

Indiscreet is great viewing for fans of the marvelous Ingrid Bergman, who in each scene makes emotions flow across her face like waves. The real shame of Bergman's earlier 'morals banishment' from Hollywood is the six-year interruption in her mainstream film career. Cary Grant's personal brand of effortless charm is also in high gear, and his chemistry with Bergman is just as effective as their earlier pairing in Hitchcock's Notorious. Grant's work seems unnatural only when he's called upon to act unreasonably angry or jealous, and that's because he has to go against his accumulated screen persona.

Breaking away from musicals, Stanley Donen would continue with more sophisticated bedroom comedies: Once More, With Feeling, The Grass is Greener. His elegant direction is highly responsive to character moods. Donen stages a square dance-like 'reel' at a formal party, a complicated scene that's a model of its kind. He's also good with clever visual jokes. Michael Gordon's Pillow Talk became famous for its split-screen phone call scenes, the ones that toy with the idea of the two distant lovers appearing to be in the same bathtub, or bed. Made over a year earlier, Indiscreet uses the exact same gag. "Side by side" in different beds, Grant appears to pat Bergman's bottom. The two lovers also 'clasp hands' beneath the split-screen line.

Lionsgate's DVD of Indiscreet is a frustrating non-enhanced flat transfer. Colors on the 1:66 letterboxed image are okay, but the lower resolution blurs faces on anything wider than a medium close-up. Frederick Young's glowing cinematography deserves better; even Maurice Binder's graphic title sequence is grainy. The audio sounds compressed, with the louder music passages a bit distorted. This is almost certainly a third re-use of the same transfer first seen on a seven year-old Republic/Artisan release. No extras or subtitles are provided.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Indiscreet rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Fair non-enhanced older transfer
Sound: Good -
Supplements: none
Packaging: In oversized keep case with three other discs.
Reviewed: January 10, 2008

Republished by permission of Turner Classic Movies.

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2008 Glenn Erickson

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