Smiles of a Summer Night
|Smiles of a Summer Night|
|Directed by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Produced by||Allan Ekelund|
|Written by||Ingmar Bergman|
|Edited by||Oscar Rosander|
|Release date(s)||26 December 1955|
|Running time||108 min|
Smiles of a Summer Night (Swedish: Sommarnattens leende) is a 1955 Swedish comedy film directed by Ingmar Bergman. It was the first of Bergman's films to bring the director international success, due to its exposure at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. In 2005 it was on TIME magazine's "100 Movies" list of the best movies of all time.
The film's plot—which involves switching partners on a summer night—has been adapted many times, most notably as the theatrical musical, A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler and Harold Prince, which opened on Broadway in 1973, and as Woody Allen's film A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982).
The film takes place in Sweden around the turn of the twentieth century. Fredrik Egerman is a middle-aged lawyer married to a 19-year-old beauty, Anne. Their two-year marriage is still unconsummated, due to Anne's reluctance. Fredrik has a son, Henrik, from his marriage to his late first wife. Henrik is in his early twenties and is studying to be a minister but is currently tormented by his love for his step-mother, who secretly loves him in return. Henrik is distracting himself from his urges by attempting an inconclusive affair with Fredrik's lusty young servant, Petra.
Between his two marriages, Fredrik had an affair with a notable stage actress, the beautiful Desiree Armfeldt, but she broke off the relationship. Desiree now has a young son named Fredrik, born shortly after her affair with Fredrik Egerman. (It is implied, but never directly stated, that little Fredrik Armfeldt is the son of Fredrik Egerman.) Desiree is now having an affair with an army officer, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm. The Count's wife, Charlotte, is an old friend of Anne Egerman.
Fredrik goes to see Desiree one night to pour out his marital troubles to her and ask for her help. Having fallen into a puddle outside Desiree's house, Desiree dresses him in the Count's nightshirt. The violently jealous Count shows up and orders Fredrik to leave. After Fredrik goes, the Count and Desiree argue and subsequently decide to part amicably. When the Count returns home, he tells Charlotte about the encounter and orders her to tell Anne Egerman about Fredrik's supposed infidelity (though no infidelity actually occurred). When Charlotte visits Anne, she confesses that she loves the Count despite everything and would do anything to be loved in return.
To solve these woes, Desiree has her mother invite all the characters to her country house for Midsummer Night, the shortest night of the year, a traditional observance in Sweden, when many party-goers stay awake all night until dawn. Desiree and Charlotte become temporary allies. Henrik and Anne, unexpectedly finding themselves alone together in a bedroom, consummate their relationship and elope with the assistance of Petra and her new lover Frid, another servant. Charlotte then joins Fredrik in the garden pavilion. Learning his wife is with Fredrik, the Count bursts in and challenges Fredrik to a game of Russian roulette. Fredrik loses but the Count had loaded the revolver with soot so neither party was ever in danger. The Count reunites with his wife, his feelings for her renewed by his jealousy. Desiree comforts Fredrik and he asks her not to leave him. The dilemmas of the four pairs of lovers appear to be happily resolved in the course of a night, said by Frid to have smiled three smiles upon them all.
- Ulla Jacobsson – Anne Egerman
- Eva Dahlbeck – Desiree Armfeldt
- Harriet Andersson – Petra
- Margit Carlqvist – Countess Charlotte Malcolm
- Gunnar Björnstrand – Fredrik Egerman
- Jarl Kulle – Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm
- Åke Fridell – Frid
- Björn Bjelfvenstam – Henrik Egerman
- Naima Wifstrand – Mrs. Armfeldt
- Jullan Kindahl – Beata
- Gull Natorp – Malla
- Birgitta Valberg – Actress
- Bibi Andersson – Actress
- Smiles of a Summer Night at the Internet Movie Database
- Smiles of a Summer Night at the Swedish Film Database
- Smiles of a Summer Night at AllMovie
- Criterion Collection essay by Pauline Kael