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Smiles of a Summer Night (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

47 customer reviews

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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

After fifteen films that received mostly local acclaim, the 1955 comedy Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens leende) at last ushered in an international audience for Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries). In turn-of-the-century Sweden, four men and four women of different classes attempt to navigate the laws of attraction. During a weekend in the country, the women collude to force the men’s hands in matters of the heart, exposing their pretensions and insecurities along the way. Chock-full of flirtatious propositions and sharp witticisms delivered by such Swedish screen legends as Gunnar Björnstrand (The Seventh Seal, Winter Light) and Harriet Andersson (Through a Glass Darkly, Cries and Whispers), Smiles of a Summer Night is one of cinema’s great erotic comedies.

Special Features

Digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Video introduction to the film by director Ingmar Bergman

Video conversation between Bergman scholar Peter Cowie and writer Jörn Donner, executive producer of Fanny and Alexander

Original theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by theater and film critic John Simon and a 1961 review by film critic Pauline Kael

Product Details

  • Actors: Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Margit Carlquist, Gunnar Bjornstrand
  • Directors: Ingmar Bergman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: May 3, 2011
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004NWPY3Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,990 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of Bergman's works about psychological abuse, personal disaster and disintegrating relationships, this film is definitely not for you. But it reaches a hand across to his late work, sharing a kind of sunlit-but-shadowed atmosphere that's both in the physical environment, and in the people he displays. Less stiff than Bergman's other early attempts at humor (The Devil's Stye, for example), the storyline is engaging, the characters interesting and all-too-human; and the outdoors scenes really bring some life to a director who was all too easily stagebound. There are few outright laughs in this film, but a great many smiles and a warm willingness to embrace humanity with all its flaws.
Definitely a film to treasure, and one that bears repeated viewing. I'd put it fairly close to Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal for its success at creating a film with a unique tone and attitude, in which all the parts contribute magnificently to the whole.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Donato on August 11, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I came to Ingmar Bergman films in the mid-sixties, as a teen, and liked them because they seemed so stark, so unlike the typical Hollywood fluff. They called 'em art films, but I liked Bergman because of the characters and the stories, not to mention the look and feel of his films. It was only when Criterion Collection released SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT this year that I finally got to see a film I had heard a lot about but never bothered to seek out. Criterion's other Bergman films were all must-haves so I ordered Smiles right away. (I have seen Sondheim's A Little Night Music on stage some three times and saw the film, so I suppose this Bergman source film seemed less unknown than his others. And, by the way, after seeing Smiles, I appreciate even more how nicely Sondheim et al adapted this film.) True to Criterion's high standards and TLC in presenting its films, Smiles looks as good as it must have when it was released almost fifty years ago. This light comedy involves several pairs of lovers who, for a variety of reasons, might be better off if the deck were shuffled and they ended up in another pairing. Aging actress, married lover; aging lawyer, too-young virgin wife; tortured soul son of lawyer, saucy maid temptress, and lawyer's too-young virgin wife; wife of military man who knows husband has mistresses, including the aging actress. Shuffle the deck a few times and a lot can happen in a movie with characters such as these. Sondheim wrote the entire score to A Little Night Music in waltz tempo, which perfectly captures the whirling intricacies of the relationships. Bergman started it all with a very entertaining and perfectly cast film, full of both comedy and the human dimension of mismatched people who may be investing too much energy in the wrong person.Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 17, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This was director Ingmar Bergman's break-through film, the winner of the 1956 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the first of his many internationally acclaimed films. The story is a time honored one, referrencing the same tradition of romantic complications found in Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and Rostand's LA RONDE: every one is either in love with or married to the wrong person.
A famous actress with two very different lovers invites both, their wives, and the son of one lover to her mother's country estate in the hope of sorting out the romantic entanglements to her satisfaction--and the result is considerable charm and unexpectedly dry wit. All the performances are excellent, with Eva Dahlbeck's Desiree a standout, but the real star of this ensemble piece is the unexpectedly witty script. Never quite veering over into broad farce but never sinking into romantic sentimentality, it is a very precisely written tale, and both cast and director make the most of it.
In the face of Bergman's later work, SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT may seem rather slight, and indeed both psychology and cinematography is considerably less complex than one expects. Even so, it is very much a Bergman film: the visual style is distinct, and the themes of appearances vs. reality, the inability to correctly interpret another's behavior, and the failure to understand one's self are very much in evidence--only here to comic effect. It is in every way a charming film that Bergman fans will enjoy.
Incidently, SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT was successfully translated to the stage as the musical A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, the score of which includes the famous "Send In The Clowns." Fans of the original film will be interested to compare the two works.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Galina on June 15, 2006
Format: DVD
"Smiles of a Summer Night" is one of the most elegant and charming carnal comedies ever filmed. It is clever, witty, and incredibly sexy. Did I mention that it was written and directed by The Ingmar Bergman whose name would not usually be associated with the comedies?

"Smiles of a Summer Night" was a great success with both the critics and the audiences and was submitted for the Cannes film festival...without its creator's knowledge. The film was nominated for the Golden Palm and won the Award for Best Poetic Humor. Bergman describes how he found out about his movie's international recognition, "I was sitting on the toilet reading a morning newspaper. One of the articles was entitled, The Great Victory for a Swedish Cinema at Cannes. I thought, what a wonderful news, what is the movie? And then I read the title, "Smiles of a Summer Night" by Ingmar Bergman." He recalls how poor he was then and he borrowed the money for a ticket to Cannes from Bibi Anderson whom he dated at the time.

I did not laugh a lot but I don't think I was supposed to - "Smiles... is a different kind of comedy, sensual and subtle, with the characters often weak but not ridiculous. The beauty of it is in the dialogs, ironic looks, the charming struggle of wits, and in the realization that not everyone will be blessed with the true and passionate love but the life goes on, anyway. The actresses (Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, and Margit Carlqvist) were incredibly sexy, especially Eva Dahlbeck smoking a cigar and Harriett Andersson as a chambermaid talking to her mistress about the virginity - delightful!

There are no words to describe the beauty, splendor, charm, humor, and sensuality of this film. The best I can do - to paraphrase Woody Allen's line -"that was the most fun I've ever had without sex."
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Smiles of a Summer Night (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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