(Air Date: Week Of 11/8/95)
When we remember Swedish superstars during the Golden Age of Hollywood, we think first of Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman and then...and then...I wish I could add one of my very favourite actresses to this list, but I can't, because the superb Viveca Lindfors was never a superstar. However, her career did endure for 55 years, far longer than most of the other European imports who hoped to make their mark on Hollywood. Lindfors had been working steadily in Swedish films & theatre up to the time she arrived at Warner Bros. Studios in 1947.
Warner Bros. Didn't know what to do with the versatile young dramatic actress. They put her in 1948's "To the Victor", a war crimes drama opposite Dennis Morgan, mistake. They finally allowed "Night Unto Night" (co-starring Ronald Reagan) to escape in 1949 after it collected dust on the shelves for two years, an even bigger mistake. Of her early Warner Bros. Work, only "The Adventures of Don Juan" with Errol Flynn is worth watching today. The dismal selection of films reflected the waning of the studio system far more than it did Lindfors' squandered talent.
Lindfors began freelancing for other studios. She was extremely good in the 1950 film noir "Dark City" opposite newcomer Charlton Heston & in the award-winning "4 in a Jeep" co-starring young Ralph Meeker. As her career progressed, it became clear she would have to make the most of supporting character roles to survive in the business, so she turned them into juicy vignettes that frequently made her later films seem better than they really were. 1965's "Brainstorm" was by no means the chilling film noir it might have been at Warner Bros. in the 40's, but Lindfors' beautifully-drawn portrait of a clear-eyed, sympathetic psychiatrist was the most memorable aspect of William Conrad's uneven film.
And who can remember a single line from 1965's "Sylvia"? But I CAN remember Lindfors' warm, intelligent librarian. And I remember crying my eyes out after watching Lindfors bring an eerie humanity to a music-loving Nazi guard in 1980's "Playing For Time". It saddens me that Viveca Lindfors isn't better known because she brought the quiet dignity, taste & conviction to every part she ever played. Check out some of her many films on video and see for yourself. An actress of her depth and richness of soul deserves to be remembered forever.
Copyright 1995 Monica Sullivan
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