Twelve years after Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman shared the screen in Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946), which was perhaps the best romantic film pairing ever, the two stars met again in Indiscreet, a romantic comedy directed by Stanley Donen. While Notorious was one of the most serious and ominous love stories ever produced in Hollywood, Indiscreet is light and sumptuous.
A lot had happened in the intermediate dozen years. Bergman had ridden out the waves of the overblown scandal caused by her leaving her first husband in favor of Roberto Rosellini, and had only recently been allowed to return to Hollywood, which resulted in the success of Anastasia (1956). Grant was on the third of his five marriages, which, at 13 years, was by far the longest, but was heading for yet another divorce. At the time of filming Bergman was 43, and Grant was 55. The stars’ ages add a lot of charm to the film. It is hard to think of a director today, except perhaps Woody Allen, who would make a romantic comedy with actors this age.
The story revolves around Anna Kalman, London-based stage actress who has enjoyed a long career but is getting a bit bored with the stage and has long since given up hopes of finding the man of her dreams when she falls in love at first sight with Philip Adams, a visiting American diplomat. Adams, who admits straight out his is married but separated, feels the same way about her and takes a NATO job and a flat in the same building to be near her. The first half of the movie could seem a bit slow by modern standards, although there are little treasures, such as the privilege of seeing Cary Grant dance a reel.
Things pick up considerably slightly past the midway mark when Anna finds out through her brother-in-law, who is orchestrating the NATO job, that Adams has been keeping a little secret. Bergman excels in playing a woman scorned, who develops a plan to teach her lover a lesson. The tension between the two raises to a fever pitch before before being resolved, in true romantic comedy tradition, in the final line of the film.