Smiles of a Summer Night Reviews
The plot, set near the beginning of the 20th century in Sweden, is almost too complicated to recount, but I'll try. We begin with Frederik Egerman (Gunnar Bjornstrand), a widowed lawyer in his early 50s, who recently married a 19-year-old girl named Anne (Ulla Jacobsson) but has yet to consummate the marriage. His gloomy son Henrik (Bjorn Bjelvenstam) might also be in love with the girl, who after all is much closer to his own age. Their perky maid Petra (Harriet Andersson) flirts with both men. Meanwhile, a famous actress named Desiree (Eva Dahlbeck) is in town, and it seems she might have a past with Frederik, a past her current paramour Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle) is none too happy about. Of course, Malcolm's own wife Charlotte (Margit Carlquist) is herself unhappy about the fact that her husband has a mistress. Someone insanely decides it would be a good idea for all these people to spend some time together at a country estate, and things happen.
As you can see from the plot description, this movie is all about relationships, in contrast with his more well-known movies about death (The Seventh Seal, Cries & Whispers). The movie approaches most of the material in a fairly light, arch manner reminiscent of Oscar Wilde, though the dialogue is only occasionally as funny as Wilde's. The cast of course consists entirely of actors you're only likely to see in other Ingmar Bergman movies, but they're all great. I particularly liked Harriet Andersson as the maid Petra, who's the liveliest character in the bunch.
While it is indeed a fairly light film all around, you still get glimpses of the sort of bleak material Bergman would focus on in later films, such as when Charlotte delivers an utterly sincere monologue straight to camera about how much she loathes all men. While the movie doesn't make quite as strong an impression on the audience as the unforgettable The Seventh Seal, it's still a very well-crafted film, and it's interesting to see that Bergman had a lighter side early on in his career.