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A woman called Ingrid

Ingrid Bergman had her first film role at the age of 1,

sitting on her mother's lap in a jerky home movie.

She didn't make her professional screen debut for another 18 years, but by

then it had long been clear that acting was her passion. Tall, shy, somewhat

gawky in her youth, she was transformed when portraying others. As she wrote

years later, she always felt she belonged "to these people of the theater and

the movies and the make- believe world we create."

Her "make-believe world," and her often tempestuous real one, too, are the

subject of "Here's Looking at You, Kid: Selections from the Ingrid Bergman

Collection." An exhibition of photos, letters, movie posters, costumes and

other memorabilia, most of it once owned by Bergman, the show runs through July

17 at Manhattan's Scandinavia House, headquarters of the American-

Scandinavian Foundation. (A tandem Bergman film festival runs Wednesday

evenings through June 30.)

It's an apt setting: The Swedish-born Bergman was, after all, one of

Scandinavia's hottest exports, an international superstar decades before that

term became common coinage.

Despite its iconic title line, the exhibition dwells on "Casablanca" only

briefly, with a couple of photographs and a movie poster from the 1942 film.

Equally prominent is material from such Bergman vehicles as "Gaslight" (1944),

"The Bells of St. Mary's" (1945) and "Notorious" (1946). For those who love

statuettes, her three Oscars - as best actress for "Gaslight" and "Anastasia"

(1956), and best supporting actress for "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) -

also are on view.

But "Casablanca" is, well, "Casablanca," and the subject inevitably came up

at a recent exhibition preview attended by Bergman's four children: Pia

Lindstrom, her daughter from her first marriage, to Dr. Petter Lindstrom; and

Isabella, Ingrid and Robertino Rossellini, her offspring with Italian film

director Roberto Rossellini.

"Of all the movies she wouldn't want to be remembered for, that's it," said

Lindstrom, a former TV reporter and theater critic, when asked about the

classic Bergman-Bogart melodrama. "And oddly enough, that's the one that stayed

in people's lives."

And how did her mother get along with Bogart? "She didn't," Lindstrom said.

"He was having some problems so he stayed mostly in his trailer" when not in a

scene. Their screen clinches may have set off sparks for audiences, but

Bergman's verdict was "I kissed him, but I never really knew him," Lindstrom

recounted.

These were keepers

Bergman's view of her films, though, didn't seem to affect what items she

saved from them, said Leith Johnson, co- curator of the Wesleyan University

Cinema Archives, to which Bergman's family donated her collection after her

death from cancer in 1982. "I think she was conscientious and saved material

from all of her projects fairly equally," Johnson said.

While the Bergman archive is available by appointment to scholars at the

Middletown, Conn., university, this exhibition is the first time many of the

objects have been publicly displayed. If it's somewhat short on text and

context, the show still should have enough to offer Bergman buffs or lovers of

movie lore.

It's unusually rich in the early sections, dealing with Bergman's

childhood. Born in Stockholm in 1915, she was constantly photographed, often in

costume, by her father, who ran a camera shop. More surprisingly, he also

filmed her, using a movie camera rented especially for her birthdays. A video

loop of the family films, with Bergman's commentary, greets visitors to the

show.

"It's very rare to have home movies at the beginning of the [last]

century," said Isabella Rossellini, the actress and model. (Rossellini helped

spark the exhibition when she suggested last fall that the Wesleyan archives be

incorporated in what was initially planned solely as a Bergman film festival.)

Home movies

The home movies are not only rare, but poignant: We see Ingrid as a

round-faced baby, with her mother; soon after, we see her at age 3, putting

flowers on her mother's fresh grave.

At 13, Bergman also lost her father, who had first taken her to the theater

a couple of years earlier. The experience was a revelation. "My eyes popped

out," she recalled in "My Story," her 1980 autobiography. "Grown-up people on

that stage doing things which I did at home, all by myself, just for fun."

By 1936, with the Swedish- language "Intermezzo," Bergman was a star in her

home country. Three years later, she was in Hollywood, making the American

version of the film for producer David O. Selznick. Photos from both movies are

on view, but much more amusing are Selznick's instructions concerning

Bergman's screen test for the 1943 "For Whom the Bell Tolls": "The most

important thing is the pants she will wear, as [executive producer B.G.] de

Sylva has some strange idea about her being too heavy in the hips."

He needn't have worried about her looks. Photo after photo (including

images by Cecil Beaton, Robert Capa, Gordon Parks, David Seymour and Lord

Snowdon) provide ample proof of Bergman's beauty, often described as "radiant"

or "luminous."

Fickle fate

Placed on an almost saintly pedestal, Bergman went from beloved to reviled

in 1949. Hoping to expand her acting horizons, she had written to Rossellini,

the great neo-realist director. The show includes his return letter, in stilted

English, suggesting she star in his upcoming film, "Stromboli," named for and

set on a volcanic Italian island.

Their subsequent affair, and the birth of their son before her divorce from

Lindstrom was finalized, led to a media circus and Bergman's denunciation in

the United States. (The 1950 movie poster for "Stromboli" - "Raging Island ...

Raging Passions!" - could hardly have failed to recall the scandal.) The

exhibition also includes some surprising letters of support, from Alfred

Hitchcock and Ernest Hemingway. (Though Hitchcock, in truth, is also urging her

to buck up and publicize another film, and Hemingway can't help being

condescending, if loyal.)

Bergman's career eventually recovered, and she continued to act in films,

on TV (winning an Emmy for her portrayal of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir

in 1982's "A Woman Called Golda") and on the stage.

Several photographs and a poster document her well- received work, at age

63, with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman in the 1978 film "Autumn Sonata." It's

her last film, and one of Pia Lindstrom's favorites. In a sense, Bergman had

finally been freed of her youthful, shimmering screen presence: "Once her

enormous, radiant physical beauty had dimmed a bit," Lindstrom said, "she did

some of her best acting."

WHEN & WHERE Through July 17 at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave. Gallery hours

are noon-6 p.m., Tuesday- Saturday. For more information, call 212-879-9779 or

visit www.scandinaviahouse.org.

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