Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Recently, I picked up another Criterion Eclipse Series set, this time of six films Ingrid Bergman made in Sweden at the beginning of her career. I had seen Dollar quite a few years ago when Bergman was TCM's Star of the Month and they ran a night of her Swedish movies. A look at the IMDb user reviews suggests that was June 2005. So I decided to make that one the first of the films from the set to watch and post about here.

Ingrid plays Julia Balzar, wife of businessman Kurt (Georg Rydeberg), who seems more in love with his business Sveaverken than he is with his wife. That's OK, though, since Julia seems to be just as much in love with Louis Brenner (Kotti Chave), who is already married to another woman, Sussi (Tutta Rolf). Sussi, for her part, is in love with Ludvig, who is married to Katja.

Love isn't the only thing interfering in their lives; there's also money. Louis is an inveterate gambler, much to the annoyance of his wife. He's told her he's going to stop gambling, but sure enough, he keeps it up and loses 50,000 kronor playing poker at the club. He writes a post-dated check but he could theoretically go to jail if he can't make it good. So Julia decides that she's going to help Louis out by selling some of her shares in Sveaverken. She doesn't know, because her husband can't be bothered to tell her, that he's been trying to float a bond issue for Sveaverken, and these mysterious shares being sold is depressing the share price. Ludvig offers to buy Julia's remaining shares in a private sale.

As for Kurt, he's got another chance to get the money needed for his bond issuance. Apparently one of their number has an elderly cousin in Chicago, Miss Jonston, who has decided she's going to visit her family in the old country, and she's absolutely loaded. So the three couples head up to the ski resort at Åre, where Miss Jonston is going to be. Sussi decides she's had enough of Louis' dalliance with Julia, and she goes off cross-country skiing. She falls down the mountain, and her injury has an effect on all the couples as well as the brash Miss Jonston's relationship with the doctor -- when everbody meets her they're surprised to find out she's relatively young.

Dollar is an interesting movie that's a bit difficult to classify. The liner notes on the DVD refer to it as a screwball comedy, but I wouldn't quite call the comedy screwball. That, and there's a reasonable amount of drama. One thing that struck me is that although Miss Jonston is supposed to be American, she was about as American as the characters in the French Purple Noon -- another good movie, but with characters who aren't American at all. Then again, I imagine Hollywood's look at Europeans, especially back in the 1930s, isn't very accurate either. As for Miss Jonston, she's most like an Edna May Oliver character, except a bit younger. Ingrid Bergman does well; she's nominally the star on the back of some earlier successes but this is really an ensemble cast.

All in all, I think I'd compare Dollar to the Hollywood programmers with upper-class dalliances, after such comedies left the drawing room. It's good, but it's also the sort of thing that blends in with any of the hundred or more programmers in that category. That's not a bad thing, of course; it's thoroughly serviceable and there's nothing really wrong with it, but it in some ways only gets the mention it does because of Ingrid Bergman's presence.

I'm looking forward to the other five movies in the set.

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