Admittedly, I was out of town for the first half of the series, which featured Ingrid Bergman in Swedish films from the '30s. But this was a minor regret as my interest was primarily in the three Bergman/Rossellini entries in the PFA series: Stromboli (1949), Europa '51 (1952) and Voyage to Italy (1953). I'll be writing about that triad in more depth in coming weeks; but, wanted to respond immediately with a visual flush of desire to Rossellini's Stromboli.
I watched Stromboli with Brian Darr and Ryland Walker Knight. Both of them rushed to Twitter to tweet their reactions. Darr: "Like Howard Hughes suggested, it's a documentary on Ingrid Bergman's isolation in a community she's too deep for." And Knight extolled Bergman's beauty (he called her a "hottie"). That's to be expected, of course. As Judith Clark has described in the program notes: "Bergman's radiant looks and her distinctive combination of sensual directness and exquisite sensitivity" are, indeed, "evident."
But if the launch of the 21st Century is to mean anything, it must acknowledge the gendered parity of seeing, and film's complicity with desire, especially to readings of cinema. "There is no difference in desire," queer songwriter Steven Grossman sang, "I used to wander with my father's violin."
And so I turn to the men in Stromboli, whose beauty I found counterpart to Bergman's: Mario Vitale and Mario Sponzo, both former fishermen discovered by Rossellini in 1949 who he later featured in Stromboli. Mario Vitale played Bergman's well-meaning but provincial husband Antonio, and Mario Sponzo the flirtatious lighthouse keeper. Vitale went on to play roles through the late '90s. Mario Sponzo's face graced the silver screen only this once. I offer a gallery.