In many ways, "Smiles of a Summer Night" is what one might expect from a film labeled in its opening credits as "a romantic comedy by Ingmar Bergman"--there's a heavy emphasis on character and the close-up, long stretches of sometimes rather somber dialogue between the comic bits, and a pervasive sense of melancholy and nostalgia that runs throughout the film and grounds it (there's even a scene where a young theology student attempts suicide, for crying out loud). What is perhaps unexpected for those who know the Bergman of "Cries and Whispers" is that this melancholy only serves to heighten the film's deep and abiding joy and to act as a contrast to the surprisingly frequent goofiness (the last thing I expected from Bergman was an over-the-top Capitano-type character accompanied by a string of wacky musical stingers). "Smiles of a Summer Night" was made after Bergman had directed a stage production of "The Merry Widow," and that sort of turn-of-the-century comedy-of-manners attitude certainly informs his writing and direction here. Even so, it's the spirit of Shakespeare (specifically "As You Like It") and even Ecclesiastes that seems to ground the film philosophically. Time slips irrevocably by, death (as embodied by a figure on a cuckoo clock) marches irreversibly forward, and all we have is the present, the pang of heartbreak and the thrill of love, the smiles of the summer night. "Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun."