Smiles of a Summer Night

Movie Information

In Brief: Something a little — or even a lot — different from Ingmar Bergman. Smiles of a Summer Night finds the director in a playful and romantic mood — all the while flirting with his usual heavier concerns — and crafting a perfect sex farce that's really one of the most joyful films imaginable.
Genre: Comedy
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Eva Dahlbeck, Gunnar Björnstrand, Ulla Jacobsson, Jarl Kulle, Björn Bjelvenstam
Rated: NR

Last time this ran, I wrote: “So you think Ingmar Bergman is a gloomy fellow, always tussling with the big questions and awash in grade-A Lutheran guilt? Well, try a large dose of his Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) and think again. Yes, you might find that Bergman has tucked a few of his big questions into this romantic comedy. For that matter, he’s even tackled Lutheran guilt head-on, but in comedic terms, with the character of the upright and uptight Henrik Egerman (Björn Bjelvenstam). Henrik is a theology student who takes everything very seriously indeed, but who also has a pretty significant and presumably sinful problem since he’s in love with Anne (Ulla Jacobson), who just happens to be the young wife of his father, Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Björnstrand). And that’s just the beginning of the romantic complications that form the heart of Smiles of a Summer Night. It may not be such a bad thing that Henrik is in love with Anne, whose two-year marriage to Fredrik has never been consummated. Fredrik himself is very obviously still in love with the actress Desiree Armfeldt (a positively glowing Eva Dahlbeck), who threw him over a few years earlier. However, that situation is complicated both by Fredrik and Desiree’s need to appear utterly sophisticated and unemotional and by the existence of Desiree’s extremely jealous current lover, Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle). And that situation is itself tangled up with Count Malcom’s equally jealous wife, Charlotte (Margit Carlqvist), who would like nothing so much than to have her husband to herself. Throw in a biologically accommodating maid, Petra (Harriet Andersson), Desiree’s outspoken mother (Naima Wifstrand) and an assortment of lesser comic servants, and you have the recipe for this stylish, charming, funny, warmly human and surprisingly earthy film.”

Full review:

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Smiles of a Summer Night Friday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332,


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.