Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Saratoga Trunk (1945)




“I've seen lots of women, but I've never seen a woman like you.”

            Saratoga Trunk is based off the novel of the same name by the famed author Edna Ferber. Ferber wrote novels like Show Boat, Giant, So Big, Cimarron, and so many more that were turned into successful films. The films I have seen of her works are good but they are very much women’s stories very dramatic with happy endings. Saratoga Trunk is one of those stories but this time the woman is the one with the strings, the strength, the determination, and most amazing of all the shock value.
            Cilo Dulaine (Ingrid Bergman) has returned to New Orleans the place of her birth from Paris. Her mother has died in what Clio says is shame and disgrace. Clio’s mother had been the mistress of a rich man. The man unfortunately had to marry a respectable woman and could not be with her. The mother was so upset that her love could not be with her that she was going to kill herself when the father walked in. The father went to take the gun away but the gun went off and fatally shot him. The father’s family shunned the mother and had the mother thrown out of New Orleans. Now Clio has come to avenge her mother and wreak havoc on the town and the Dulaine family. She makes a vow that she will marry a rich man to also get back at those who hurt her mother.
            Clio along with her servants Angelique and Cupido go to the market. All the men take notice of Clio either because of her beauty or because she looks so much like her mother. While there she sees a man leaning against the bar staring at her. She likes what she sees but her servant Angelique forbids her to look at a man like that. Clio then walks over to a restaurant for breakfast and tells the owner that she wants to sit at the Dulaine table since she is a relative. At the table she sees the man from the bar again. Clio has the owner call the man over. His name is Colonel Clint Maroon (Gary Cooper). He comes from Texas and is not kindly looked upon by the people of New Orleans as they think the state is full of rough cowboys with no manners.
            Eventually Clio and Clint begin to see each other. One he wonders why he is even with Clio and tells her so. He is upset because Clio is ruining his plans he could have been in Saratoga days ago. Clint is looking to get even with a railroad company for taking his father’s land in Texas that his father had worked so hard to build. Clio asks Clint what Saratoga is like to which he replies that very rich people go to Saratoga to gamble and leisure about. As soon as Clio hears that there are rich men in Saratoga her interest in the area piques.
            In the mean time Clio continues to make life very uncomfortable for her father’s family. She goes to the same opera as they do and stares at them through her opera glasses, she walks past their house with Clint, and other things. They eventually have enough and bring in their lawyer to speak with Clio. The lawyer offers Clio a lot of money to leave New Orleans. Clio seizes this opportunity and asks for more money which the lawyer obliges as long as she leaves town. Then Clio makes more demands such as having her mother’s remains brought back to the town and buried under a white washed gravestone with the words “Beloved Wife” carved in them, and that she keep the profits from selling the house and all the furniture burned so no one can buy then and gossip about the pieces.
            Clio makes her way to Saratoga where Clint is. He had written to her to say that there is a very rich man at the hotel where he is. When Clio and Clint first see each other for the first time they pretend not to know each other so Clio has a chance with the rich man. Clint and Clio scheme together on how to get the rich man for her and revenge for him.
            I am leaving off here because the plot to me got a little confusing and I kind of stopped paying attention at this point.
            Ingrid Bergman was just a phenomenal actress. Whenever I watch any of her films no matter how many times I have seen them I am always blown over by her acting. I always say that if anyone ever wants to learn how to act all they have to do is watch any Ingrid Bergman or Myrna Loy film because they were just top notch actresses. With Bergman with every film she made you can just tell she loved being an actress she loved being in from of a camera in of an audience. And because she loved what she did she became this amazing incredible actress who could play anything. When you watch Bergman you are not watching the actress you are watching her characters. Clio Dulaine was a wicked scheming woman. There were scenes in this film where all Bergman had do was smile this wicked smile and you knew what was going on in her character’s mind. It is a smile if you have seen in countless of Bergman’s films either if she is happy or being sly but with the character of Clio Dulaine is becomes wicked. The first time she gave that smile in the film I was floored. I cannot explain why I liked it so much I just did. Ingrid Bergman is one of the reasons I became so into classic Hollywood I love her more and more with each of her films I see.
            Gary Cooper was such a handsome man. He was getting older and it looks like his chain smoking was starting to take a toll on him but the man still looked outrageously handsome. I thought his pairing with Ingrid Bergman was a little odd because she went all out with her performances especially here and Cooper kind of hung back. This is easier to understand when you have seen the film. Cooper was so good I liked how he was a rough Texan even if he did not look rough he acted like he was.
            Saratoga Trunk is not a bad film but it is long and gets a little tedious. Other than it being long and the story only so-so I have no other complaints about the film at all.