Intermezzo (1939 film)

Intermezzo: A Love Story
1945 Argentine film poster
Directed by Gregory Ratoff
Produced by David O. Selznick
Screenplay by George O'Neil
Story by Gösta Stevens
Gustaf Molander
Starring Leslie Howard
Ingrid Bergman
Edna Best
John Halliday
Cecil Kellaway
Music by Max Steiner
Heinz Provost [sv]
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Harry Stradling
Edited by Francis D. Lyon
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • September 22, 1939 (1939-09-22)
Running time
70 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Intermezzo (also called Intermezzo: A Love Story) is a 1939 American romantic film remake of a 1936 Swedish film of the same title. It stars Leslie Howard as a married virtuoso violinist who falls in love with his accompanist, played by Ingrid Bergman in her Hollywood debut. The film was directed by Gregory Ratoff and produced by David O. Selznick. It features multiple orchestrations of Heinz Provost's title piece, which won a contest associated with the original film's production. The screenplay by George O'Neil was based on that of the original film by Gösta Stevens and Gustaf Molander. It was produced by Selznick International Pictures.[citation needed]

The score by Lou Forbes was nominated for an Academy Award,[1] and music credit was given to Robert Russell Bennett, Max Steiner, Heinz Provost and Christian Sinding. The cinematography by Gregg Toland, who replaced Harry Stradling, was also nominated.[1]


Holger Brandt, a famous virtuoso violinist, meets Anita Hoffman, his daughter's piano instructor, during a trip home. Impressed by Anita's talent, he invites her to accompany him on his next tour. They begin touring together and a passionate relationship ensues. Holger's wife Margit asks him for a divorce.

Knowing how much Holger misses his daughter Ann Marie and son Eric, and torn with guilt for breaking up his family, Anita decides to pursue her own career and leaves Holger. Holger returns home to see his children again. He first travels to Ann Marie's school, but as she runs across the street to greet him, she is hit by a car in front of his eyes. He takes the injured Ann Marie back home and confronts his angry son in an attempt to explain his infidelity.

To Holger's relief, the doctor informs him that Ann Marie will survive and eventually recover from her injuries. Margit then forgives Holger and welcomes him back into his family.



Call sheet from the film.

The musical duets with Howard and Bergman were dubbed for the soundtrack by professional musicians; however, the actors' hands show the actual music being played.[2] Bergman plays the full piano parts (for Edvard Grieg's Concerto in A minor and Christian Sinding's "Rustle of Spring"), so her hand positions are correct for the music soundtrack. Howard could not play the violin, so a professional violinist named Al Sack, who bore a striking resemblance to Howard, was brought in to teach him proper violin posture and bowing technique. During filming, Sack rested on his knees, out of view of the camera, and did the fingering on all of the closeups. In the film, Sack's left hand is shown along with Howard's bowing arm and profile. Sack also doubled for Howard during the long shots in front of the orchestra.[2]

Vienna comment

In the crucial scene when the two main protagonists stand looking into the river and realize that they have fallen in love with each other, Holger Brandt (Leslie Howard) makes a casual remark about "... the time when Vienna was a happy city." This is taken by many[who?] to be a reference to the 1938 de facto annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. However, Brandt's comment also appears in the original 1936 Swedish film, which predated the Anschluss. Others[who?] understand it to mean the period of one-party rule forced on Austria by the Patriotic Front, Austria's own fascist party, which took power in 1933. The remark may also refer to Vienna's previous imperial glory prior to the First World War, which led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Radio adaptations

Bergman was heard in a radio adaptation of Intermezzo on Lux Radio Theater on January 29, 1940, with Herbert Marshall, and again on June 4, 1945 with Joseph Cotten. On October 5, 1946, Marshall starred in an adaptation of Intermezzo on the Hollywood Star Time radio program.[4]


The film was remade as Honeysuckle Rose in 1980.[5]