Smiles of a Summer Night Reviews

  • Dec 07, 2018

    The Ingmar Bergman boxset from Criterion is "curated" so that the films are presented not in chronological order but thematically. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Bergman's first big success, was selected for "Opening Night" on the first disc. Bergman himself provides a brief introduction (circa 2003) and (afterward) there is a discussion of the film by critic Peter Cowie and writer/Bergman friend Jörn Donner. I probably watched the film 25 years ago and I did not remember it at all. At the start, I worried that I would be lost as we are quickly introduced to a number of characters in Sweden circa 1901: Fredrik Egerman, a lawyer (played by Gunnar Björnstrand, a regular member of Bergman's troupe), his teenage bride, Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), his teenage son, Henrik (Björn Bjelfvenstam, and their saucy teenage maid Petra (Harriet Andersson). Next, we are informed that Fredrik's ex-lover Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck) is starring in a local theatrical production and Fredrik and Anne attend, instantly arousing Anne's jealousy -- and we find out that Anne is still a virgin when Fredrik solicits Desiree's advice is helping him to secure Anne's interest in sex. Because, yes, this is a sex comedy (in the French tradition?). Following this, we swiftly learn that Henrik is interested in both Petra and Anne, Anne is probably interested in Henrik not Fredrik, Desiree is still interested in Fredrik but is mistress to Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle) who is insanely jealous and violent. When Desiree gets her aged mother to invite the entire cast to her country estate for the weekend, she and Malcolm's wife Charlotte (Margit Carlqvist) hatch a plan to have every person end up with the right partner. Along the way, we see the king's secret moving bed, a game of Russian Roulette, and a romp in the hay by Petra and a lusty groom. In fact, the film has both darkness (suicide, Russian Roulette) and light (witty repartee, lusty antics) which is fitting for the midsummer's sunlit night in Scandinavia, when passions run high and we learn of the three smiles of the title. As shot by Gunnar Fischer, Bergman's main cinematographer of this era, the film looks beautiful in B&W, with the final dappled light of early morning at the film's close signalling that all's well that ends well. A tour de force.

    The Ingmar Bergman boxset from Criterion is "curated" so that the films are presented not in chronological order but thematically. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955), Bergman's first big success, was selected for "Opening Night" on the first disc. Bergman himself provides a brief introduction (circa 2003) and (afterward) there is a discussion of the film by critic Peter Cowie and writer/Bergman friend Jörn Donner. I probably watched the film 25 years ago and I did not remember it at all. At the start, I worried that I would be lost as we are quickly introduced to a number of characters in Sweden circa 1901: Fredrik Egerman, a lawyer (played by Gunnar Björnstrand, a regular member of Bergman's troupe), his teenage bride, Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), his teenage son, Henrik (Björn Bjelfvenstam, and their saucy teenage maid Petra (Harriet Andersson). Next, we are informed that Fredrik's ex-lover Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck) is starring in a local theatrical production and Fredrik and Anne attend, instantly arousing Anne's jealousy -- and we find out that Anne is still a virgin when Fredrik solicits Desiree's advice is helping him to secure Anne's interest in sex. Because, yes, this is a sex comedy (in the French tradition?). Following this, we swiftly learn that Henrik is interested in both Petra and Anne, Anne is probably interested in Henrik not Fredrik, Desiree is still interested in Fredrik but is mistress to Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle) who is insanely jealous and violent. When Desiree gets her aged mother to invite the entire cast to her country estate for the weekend, she and Malcolm's wife Charlotte (Margit Carlqvist) hatch a plan to have every person end up with the right partner. Along the way, we see the king's secret moving bed, a game of Russian Roulette, and a romp in the hay by Petra and a lusty groom. In fact, the film has both darkness (suicide, Russian Roulette) and light (witty repartee, lusty antics) which is fitting for the midsummer's sunlit night in Scandinavia, when passions run high and we learn of the three smiles of the title. As shot by Gunnar Fischer, Bergman's main cinematographer of this era, the film looks beautiful in B&W, with the final dappled light of early morning at the film's close signalling that all's well that ends well. A tour de force.

  • May 11, 2018

    A memorable masterpiece. One of the best of Bergman's pictures if that can be said about his works which are full of memorable masterpieces. It's so rich and intelligently nuanced, riveting and captivating, interspersed with moments of endless melancholy and beams of sublime hope. This is a cinematic achievement in its rare and truest form when it is best to view the work then to try to describe it.

    A memorable masterpiece. One of the best of Bergman's pictures if that can be said about his works which are full of memorable masterpieces. It's so rich and intelligently nuanced, riveting and captivating, interspersed with moments of endless melancholy and beams of sublime hope. This is a cinematic achievement in its rare and truest form when it is best to view the work then to try to describe it.

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    Alec B Super Reviewer
    Sep 19, 2017

    It's charming and a lot more insightful than it's plot suggests. Proof that Bergman should have made more romantic comedies.

    It's charming and a lot more insightful than it's plot suggests. Proof that Bergman should have made more romantic comedies.

  • Sep 25, 2016

    Similar to Regle de Jeu, this is a so-called comedy about infidelity. I didn't find it very funny or interesting at all. A tough one to get through.

    Similar to Regle de Jeu, this is a so-called comedy about infidelity. I didn't find it very funny or interesting at all. A tough one to get through.

  • Aug 01, 2016

    5/5 My favourite type of Bergman is romantic and comedic Bergman. So it would make sense that Smiles of a Summer Night, a romantic comedy, would be simply wonderful. Focusing on themes such as vice, virtue, temptation, lust and loyalty, this film isn't afraid to enter the darker sides of love and relationships. The third act became a bit bizarre and hard to follow, but when looking back there's a lot to dissect. I was smiling almost the whole time.

    5/5 My favourite type of Bergman is romantic and comedic Bergman. So it would make sense that Smiles of a Summer Night, a romantic comedy, would be simply wonderful. Focusing on themes such as vice, virtue, temptation, lust and loyalty, this film isn't afraid to enter the darker sides of love and relationships. The third act became a bit bizarre and hard to follow, but when looking back there's a lot to dissect. I was smiling almost the whole time.

  • Jul 10, 2016

    I was surprised by how much I loved this Ingmar Bergman film, I found it highly enjoyable. I don't think I'd seen a comedy from him, it was a nice change and he's really adept at it. It's a fun story, that despite being set in the early 1900's and released in 1955, still felt modern to me. I can definitely see myself revisiting this film. Highly recommended!

    I was surprised by how much I loved this Ingmar Bergman film, I found it highly enjoyable. I don't think I'd seen a comedy from him, it was a nice change and he's really adept at it. It's a fun story, that despite being set in the early 1900's and released in 1955, still felt modern to me. I can definitely see myself revisiting this film. Highly recommended!

  • Apr 05, 2015

    Love and relationships.

    Love and relationships.

  • Dec 07, 2014

    1001 movies to see before you die.

    1001 movies to see before you die.

  • Oct 14, 2014

    I'm not exactly sure why I wasn't overly fond of this. It was kind of boring, and it wasn't very funny at all, maybe aside from a few random lines. I've heard lots of great things about this film, but maybe I'm just not a fan of Bergman comedies.

    I'm not exactly sure why I wasn't overly fond of this. It was kind of boring, and it wasn't very funny at all, maybe aside from a few random lines. I've heard lots of great things about this film, but maybe I'm just not a fan of Bergman comedies.

  • Aug 06, 2014

    Bergman hits one out of the park on his first at-bat. A keeper.

    Bergman hits one out of the park on his first at-bat. A keeper.