Los Angeles Times - 12/06/1991
"...[Bergman's] funniest work -- and also one of his best....A rare comedy. It plays with both the romping feelings of romance and the impossibility of idealized, perfect love with the ease of flirtation..."
USA Today - 05/28/2004
"The movie that put Ingmar Bergman on the map..."
Premiere - 07/01/2004
"SMILES is clearly the work of a master -- observant, complex, and richly entertaining."
USA Today - 07/31/2007
"[A]n internationally revered delight about dueling love affairs at a summer estate."
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT is an enchanting comedy of manners with a satirical edge. Set on a country estate at the turn of the century, it features eight people, including an actress, a sophisticated aristocratic couple, a lawyer and his virginal wife, and a spirited young maid who, during the course of one evening, change partners several times and engage in multiple romantic trysts. Full of subtle eroticism and wit, Ingmar Bergman's romance proposes that falling in love (or lust) beyond the parameters of social convention is not only unavoidable at times but it might even be the key to personal happiness.
This romantic comedy, written and directed by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, was inspired in part by Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and later became the basis for both the musical A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and Woody Allen's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY. The principal events take place at a turn-of-the-century manor house where Desirée Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck), an actress, and her aging mother are giving a party. Two of the invited guests--Count Malcolm (Jarl Kulle) and Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Björnstrand), a middle-aged lawyer--are romantically involved with Desirée, a cause for murderous jealousy between the two. Meanwhile, Egerman's youthful wife, Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), who has thus far repulsed all sexual advances on her husband's part, is showing a considerable interest in her stepson (Björn Bjelvenstam)...During the course of the evening, various alliances are formed and dissolved, partners are switched, and all the guests take part in the resulting erotic escapades and intrigue--but in the end, everyone finds their true love. This is lighter, airier fare from a director often associated with existential angst and despair; nevertheless, Bergman's spicy, sophisticated movie received rave reviews and earned him widespread critical acclaim.
Filmed on location in Skåne, Sweden, and at Råsunda Studios.
SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT inspired Stephen Sondheim's stage musical A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and its subsequent cinematic adaptation.
This film was Bergman's first great international success. His subsequent projects were eagerly anticipated and well received the world over, and certain older works were shown for the first time abroad.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.