It’s Musical Culture 101 Hollywood-style, wrapped in a soapy tale of forbidden love—imported, like star Ingrid Bergman, from Sweden and glossied up. Today Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939) is, in fact, chiefly remembered for bringing Bergman to America and having her star in a remake of her 1936 Swedish film, Intermezzo (without a subtitle). It might also be mildly notable as being one of two 1939 movies (the other being Gone With the Wind) that put forth the somewhat untenable notion that Leslie Howard was someone women would pine after. Actually, this very glossy, very slick drama about the affair of a famous concert violinist (Howard) with his daughter’s piano teacher (Bergman) is a perfectly fine weeper of its kind.
While he was one of the most outrageous character actors of all time, Gregory Ratoff was always a rather subdued director—albeit one well-liked by actors. This is perhaps his most expressive film in its long tracking shots and unbridled romanticism. There’s scarcely a composition that doesn’t strive for an aura of romance—and usually achieves it. That the film clocks in at a brisk 70 minutes is also in its favor, keeping a slight story down to a workable length. There isn’t much here in the way of surprises, but as glossy Hollywood romances go, it’s a pretty darn good one.