I’d seen the Hollywood version of last night’s feature, but not the Swedish original. So I was looking forward to this one; A WOMAN’S FACE, starring baby Ingrid Bergman.
A bitter female crime boss with a scarred face is running a blackmail racket when one of her scams goes south.
She finds herself trapped with a broken foot in the office of a doctor who happens to specialize in facial reconstruction surgery. He feels sorry for her and decides to fix her face, unknowingly allowing her to take on the job of the nanny that her gang needs to kill a kid who stands between them and a big inheritance.
Sadly (for me anyway) she has moral misgivings about this plan and starts experiencing pangs of conscience once she develops feelings (UGH!) for the kid. Anyone who’s been reading these write ups for any length of time knows that I really hate kid actors and it takes a lot to make me love a movie with a kid in it. (THE WINDOW is a notable exception.) Anyway, you can see where this is headed…
The plot is similar to the Joan Crawford version, with some minor differences. The biggest and most important difference is the star. While Joan always comes across like she’s ACTING, Ingrid is utterly real and believable. Her coiled cobra body language and bitter, nail-spitting dialog was mesmerizing. You get the feeling that she, having lost her own parents at an early age just like this character, was tapping into something dark and genuine in this role.
I’m utterly in love with Evil Ingrid. Which is why it was so heart-breaking for me when she turned nice. Not that I didn’t know she would, it’s just that I wanted a whole movie of her being a bad ass crime boss. Also, I particularly hated the smug, patronizing doctor and kept wanting her to punch him in the dick and tell him to fuck himself.
Spoiler: She did not.
This film is not exactly classic Film Noir or even 30s proto-noir really, but definitely worth seeing just for Ingrid. She’s aces. Now excuse me while I go write a fan sequel where she murders the dickish doctor and hooks up with a hot Chinese gangster to start a pan-Asian crime ring.
Meanwhile, gird your loins, hardcore Noiristas, because tonight, it’s BLACK GRAVEL.
… stares into the distance…