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Film / Saratoga Trunk

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Saratoga Trunk is a 1945 period drama film directed by Sam Wood, based on Edna Ferber's 1941 novel of the same name.

Clio Dulaine (Ingrid Bergman) is a Creole woman who comes back to 1875 New Orleans after having grown up in Paris. Clio is the illegitimate daughter of a New Orleans aristocrat and his mistress. Some years ago, Clio's mom tried to shoot herself, her father grabbed the gun, and it was her father that got shot and killed. Mr. Dulaine's legitimate wife and family then shuffled Dulaine's mistress off to Paris to avoid scandal.

Clio has returned to New Orleans bent on revenge, and is determined to socially embarrass and humiliate the legitimate Dulaines as much as she can. Her plot is complicated, however, when she meets a Texas gambler, Clint Maroon (Gary Cooper). Clio falls hard for the taciturn Clint, but she still wants to find a rich husband so she can have security and respectability.

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After completing the embarrassment of the Dulaines, Clio follows Clint to the rich folks haven of Saratoga Springs, NY. While still lusting for Clint, she sets her cap for Bartholomew Van Steed (John Warburton), rich, gullible, and the owner of a railroad.

Max Steiner composed the score.


Tropes:

  • At the Opera Tonight: One of Clio's ways of humiliating the legitimate Dulaines is to go to the same opera they do, stand up in the audience so everybody can see her, and look with her opera glasses towards the box when the Dulaines come in. The Dulaines flee the theater.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Clint Maroon. Lampshaded when Clio says "What a delightful name. So American."
  • Banister Slide: Cupidon slides down the banister of the staircase at the fancy Saratoga hotel, maybe because it's easier for a little person.
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  • Blackface: Flora Robson, so white that she once played Queen Elizabeth I, appears in blackface as Angelique, an ex-slave and Clio's servant. She actually received an Academy Award nomination for her performance.
  • Call-Back: Early on, Clint complains about Clio trying to boss him around, saying that in Texas, men wear the pants. In the last scene, when Clio is making her Anguished Declaration of Love at the end she says "I'll let you wear the pants!". Clint says "That's all I've been waiting to hear." Cue the Happy Ending.
  • Child of Forbidden Love: Clio is the love child of a New Orleans rich guy and his French mistress. She is extremely bitter towards her father's legitimate family who basically forced her mom out of New Orleans.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: Clio's mother's house on Rampart Street is infested with cobwebs when Clio comes to reclaim it after many years.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Clio, looking to make an impression on the swells at Saratoga, makes a show of walking to the spring and taking a cup of water. She takes a sip, grimaces, chucks it into a plant when nobody's looking, then makes a show of sending Angelique back for another drink.
  • Fake Aristocrat: Clio passes herself off as the widow of a French count, rattling off a long title that impresses American hicks.
  • Fish out of Water: Clint the square-jawed Texan with his cowboy hat is wildly out of place among the New Orleans upper crust. Clio cackles with laughter when he orders some fancy dish at a hoity-toity restaurant, and then asks for ketchup.
  • Gold Digger: Clio lusts for Clint but states quite plainly that eventually, she wants to find a rich guy to marry to give her security.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Clio dresses to impress, in a series of fancy, ornate, frilly Victorian outfits.
  • Gun Struggle: In the backstory. It seems that Clio's mother tried to shoot herself, her father grabbed the gun, they struggled, and her father was the one that got shot and killed.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: When Clio arrives at the Saratoga Springs hotel, everyone gawks and heads swivel.
    Clio: Do people always stare like this in America?
    Bartholemew: Well, when they have someone like you to stare at.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: A failure. Mrs. Bellop the Gossipy Hen pesters Cupidon with nosy questions about Clio. Cupidon smiles politely and says something in French, and Mrs. Bellop answers "Oh, so I'm a fat old sow, am I?".
  • Little People Are Surreal: One of Clio's two servants is a little person named Cupidon. In one scene he brings Clio some lunch, then stands in front of her while she uses the top of his top hat as a dinner table and eats. In another scene Cupidon brings Clio a huge basket of flowers, which appear to be floating unsupported across the floor.
  • Two-Act Structure: The first half is in New Orleans, with Clio humiliating her legitimate relations while engaging in a passionate affair with Clint. The second half is in Saratoga Springs, with Clio getting into a Love Triangle with Clint and Bartholomew while Clint gets tangled up with the evil barons trying to steal Bartholemew's railroad.
  • You're Cute When You're Angry: Clio is yelling at Van Steed when he says "You're delightful when you're angry," and asks her to marry him.


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