Eye For Film >> Movies >> Smiles Of A Summer Night (1955) Film Review
Played in the style of theatrical farce, this was the film that made Ingmar Bergman's name internationally in the mid Fifties. What was considered risque at the time, with a hint of nipple from the naughty maid, is happily accepted on DVD with a PG certificate.
As a sex comedy, in which men are portrayed as pompous buffoons and women as scheming vixen, it is a smorgasbord of sensual possibility. Set in a small Swedish town in 1900, the participants more or less keep their clothes on.
If this had been made in England, hide-and-seek in the boudoir and pants down tomfoolery would have camouflaged lust, betrayal, jealousy and passion. Bergman has always been good at writing about women. If the men are clowns - a lawyer, a cavalry officer, a love-sick theological student - the women talk about their feelings with admirable candour.
The lawyer's wife is still a teenage virgin two years after the wedding, which is never entirely explained. His son from a previous marriage - the suicidal student - dares not confess his desire for her. The maid flirts outrageously, simply to snap him out of his mood. She can't be bothered with introspection when love is in the air.
The lawyer's ex-mistress, an actress, is in town with a touring company. He tries to pick up where he left off, but she teases him with hints and half promises. And then her new lover - the army officer - whose skill as a duellist is legendary, turns up at an unfortunate moment.
That's just the apperitif. The main course takes place over a weekend in a country house, where all the players, including the officer's sexy wife, participate in fun and games.
It's definitely ladies' day, which is the popular choice, as Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Margit Carlqvist and Harriet Andersson are terrific, both as performers and to look at. Gunnar Bjornstrand, as the lawyer, is like Malvolio in Twelth Night, self-important and absurd.
The years haven't dimmed the lights on this delightful film.Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2001
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