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Notorious: The Life Of Ingrid Bergman Paperback – April 24, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306810301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306810305
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,015,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Written with the exhaustive thoroughness readers have come to expect from Donald Spoto's celebrity biographies, Notorious moves smoothly through the details of actress Ingrid Bergman's life. Although most will equate the book's title with the 1946 Hitchock film that provided Bergman with one of her more complex and unusually dark roles, the very definition of the word proves an appropriate description of her life; derived from the Latin notus, notorious is defined as "famous or celebrated; secondarily, known for something not generally approved." Disapproval of Bergman--both virulent and far-reaching--stemmed from her extramarital affair with director Roberto Rosellini and the subsequent birth of their son (conceived before their marriage). It is this fall from grace that intrigues Spoto.

In 1939 Ingrid Bergman was hailed as a fresh-faced girl, "dignified, gracious, unpretentious and spiritual," who represented everything good that America loved and needed. Although already a wife and mother, she was most often described as innocent, even virginal. But in 1949 this perception changed, and Bergman was no longer a martyr for the sake of her movies; at the time, she was regarded as the foulest of sinners, a renegade whose "powerful influence for evil" was soon to be condemned in churches, schools, and even on the floor of the U. S. Senate. However, Spoto doesn't neglect Bergman's artistic drive and integrity; he creates a portrait of a woman on trial for aspiring to both professional success and intellectual fulfillment. The details accrue to portray a disarmingly modest professional--at times idolized, at times disparaged, but always skilled and committed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The title of this biography has a double meaning: it's the name of one of Bergman's greatest films, the 1946 collaboration with costar Cary Grant and director Alfred Hitchcock, and it also refers to her adulterous affair with director Roberto Rossellini and resulting exile from Hollywood during the early 1950s. Bergman is also notable for winning the Academy Award for best actress for Gas Light (1944) and again for Anastasia (1956) and is perhaps most remembered for her role opposite Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1943). Spoto, a prolific celebrity biographer who won a Baker & Taylor/FOLUSA Award at this year's ALA meeting, has produced a very readable and mostly laudable portrait of one of Hollywood's most charismatic figures. He's on more solid ground when he sticks to the facts of the Swedish-born Bergman's (1915-82) life; his psychoanalysis, while generally sympathetic, is more open to question. Though a worthy portrait, it is hardly complete; Bergman's first 35 years are covered in 300 pages, while the next 32 slide by in under 150. For larger public libraries where celebrity biographies are popular.?Thomas J. Wiener, "Satellite DIRECT"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kiril G. Kundurazieff on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Spellbound, Notorious, Anastasia & many other films come to mind when one thinks of Bergman.
This is a detail packed book covering her personal & professional life.
If you want to learn about her relationships, romantic & professional, how she developed & utilized her talent as an actress, & why people the world over admired, loved her & for a brief time despised her, then this is the book for you.
A wonderful collection of photographs is included, as well as an excellent Bibliography & collection of notes.
This is the story of an actress whose performances on screen & her life off the screen changed peoples ideas of what it was to be a woman, & is a must read for Movie fans.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tout Le Monde on September 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'd purchased this biography to learn more about a fascinating woman who left an indelible mark on her profession, acting. But my disappointment was great; this is less a biography than an infatuated paean -- something one might write for a fan club or public relations campaign. Though Mr. Spoto and his crew of researchers obviously undertook considerable investigation into Bergman's life, Mr. Spoto failed to complete the last -- and most important -- task of a biographer: a critical analysis of his subject. Instead, throughout the book, Mr. Spoto repeatedly (and I emphasize "repeatedly") flogs readers with superlatives about Bergman's acting, looks, intelligence, strength, spirit, wisdom, and character. Why the Pope hasn't yet canonized this woman, based on Mr. Spoto's writings, is beyond me -- perhaps it is only because she was not Catholic. I do hope that someday another biographer -- say, someone with the talents of Edward Tytell (biographer of Ezra Pound) or Noel Riley Fitch (biographer of Sylvia Beach and Julia Child) -- might undertake the task of penning a more informative, insightful biography of Bergman. The woman certainly deserves this.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 1997
Format: Hardcover
"Notorious" is well-written and deeply moving. Thebare facts of Bergman's life indicate that she was ambitious,impulsive, and not a little selfish. And of course we all know that she was beautiful and incomparably compelling. Spoto makes a good case for Bergman as passionate artist, as well, and while the pursuit of Truth does not automatically excuse all bad behavior, it certainly explains a great deal. Ingrid Bergman has gone from saint to sinner to martyr. Donald Spoto restores her humanity.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
She was Hollywood's golden girl, an actress who shone on the silver screen but never burned out. Despite worldwide fame, Ingrid Bergman's life was riddled with tragedies and problems, including an affair that could have wrecked her career.
Ingrid Bergman lost her parents, then her beloved aunt, as a young girl. Growing up in Nazi Germany, she soon became an actress and rose to fame, first in Sweden and then in Hollywood. Then problems arose -- Ingrid met one of her favorite directors, Roberto Rossellini, and left her husband for a whirlwind movie shoot/love affair. The scandal was overwhelming, and it was years until the stigma evaporated -- after which Ingrid was appreciated all over again for her talent and courage.
Donald Spoto's telling of Bergman's life is solid and informative, with quotations by Ingrid, her husbands, children, costars, directors, and lots of other people who had known her. Letters are reproduced, and her different performances are analyzed (some of these movies were downright terrible).
He also does a pretty good job of analyzing Ingrid's motivations -- why she was attracted to the elitist Peter and passionate Roberto, her strong artistic sense, her workaholic attitude, and her feelings about her children and loves. It's a pretty good analysis, overall.
Despite the title, the book isn't a dirt-fest. In fact, that's one of its weaknesses. Oh, it shouldn't be showing only her flaws, but Spoto seems to adore her a little too much. She herself is quoted as saying that she's imperfect. Even though Spoto reveals her weaknesses and failures, he doesn't seem to think any of them really matter.
It definitely could have used better perspective, but "Notorious: The Life of Ingrid Bergman" is a solid, interesting, well-written look at the life of a talented, artistic woman. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By sandy807 VINE VOICE on July 15, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
I was a young adult when Ingrid died and I was not aware of her fame and reputation as a film star. I saw her occasionally in old movies and was fascinated by her glowing beauty and talent. I was appalled by her appearance in her role as Golda Meir; she had changed so much, but now I know why. Spoto's biography about Ingrid revealed her intimately -- from her childhood to her death, throughout her marriages and affairs, the successes of her career, and relationships with friends and family. I didn't know that she had been banned from America for her "sins", and I didn't know she had other children besides Isabella Rosselini. In spite of her foibles, Ingrid still seems like a great woman, thanks to the passionate -- and compassionate -- telling of her life story by Spoto. The audio version of the book was completely compelling to listen to, enhanced by the reader, C.M. Herbert, whose voice had a quality similar to Ingrid's, and therefore made Ingrid come even more to life.
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