Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Smiles of a Summer Night (1955, Swe.)
(aka Sommarnattens Leende)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Smiles of a Summer Night (1955, Swed.) (aka Sommarnattens Leende)

In director Ingmar Bergman's light comedy of manners and bedroom farce - it was based upon Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the inspiration for Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982).

The ensemble film featured many characters mixed up in their romantic relationships, mostly involving adultery and infidelity, with the tagline: "A Sexy Frolic About the Sport of Love." Set in Sweden at the turn of the century (late 1800s) over a period of days, it told about a number of pretentious upper-class, mismatched couples and characters (a lawyer, a virgin, an actress, a soldier, a Countess, a priest, the maid, the servant, etc.) involved in various ribald adventures and couplings.

  • in the film's opening, bourgeois, middle-aged 50-ish lawyer Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Björnstrand) had been married for two years to his much younger, very beautiful and naive 19 year-old wife Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), who had not yet given up her virginity; she hinted later that she married the older Fredrik because she felt sorry for him
  • living with him in the same household, Fredrik had a grown-up son from a former marriage (to his deceased wife) named Henrik Egerman (Björn Bjelfvenstam) - a tormented, repressed, idealistic celibate man in his 20s, often dressed in black, who was a self-loathing theology student studying for the priesthood; in Henrik's first scene, he was reading a sermon to Anne about temptation

Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Björnstrand) - a Bourgeois Lawyer

Anne Egerman (Ulla Jacobsson) - Fredrik's Young 19 year-old Wife

Henrik Egerman (Björn Bjelfvenstam) - Fredrik's Theology Student Son
  • as the film opened, Fredrik (with his young wife Anne) was about to attend an evening's theatrical performance starring his old flame Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck); while napping with Anne in the afternoon, Fredrik happened to mention Desiree's name in his sleep, causing her some insecurity; the beautiful, witty and famous 50-ish blonde Stockholm stage actress Desiree had been Fredrik's mistress after his first wife died and before he married Anne, but eventually they broke off their relationship due to his infidelities
  • during her theatrical performance, Desiree delivered a monologue (appearing to seductively speak directly at Fredrik as a foreshadowing) about how women must not upset a man's dignity: "Every man has his dignity. We women may sin against our husbands, our lover or our sons, but we must never hurt that dignity. But then we have to bear the consequences. We must make that dignity an ally, to cherish and tenderly address it, and treat it like a precious toy"; she also stated: "Love is like juggling three balls. Heart, word, body. It seems so easy to juggle, but you drop one so quickly"; her words seemed to disturb Anne, who asked to go home early
  • although Henrik loved his pretty step-mother Anne (who was about his same age), he couldn't resist the flirtatious advances of Fredrik's sexy, lusty, liberated, young 18 year-old servant-maid Petra (Harriet Andersson) who openly swiveled her hips; although not in love with Petra, Henrik experienced sex for the first time with her (while Anne and Fredrik were at the theatre); guilt-ridden about losing his virtue, he also admitted that he couldn't perform: ("We have sinned, but we failed"), but that she was forgiving
  • afterwards when everyone was asleep that night, Fredrik snuck out of his house and secretly met with Desiree in her backstage dressing room, to ask her for guidance about his marital problems with Anne ("I've been married to Anne for two years and she's still pristine"); he also briefly viewed Desiree as she bathed naked - and asked him to comment on her body: ("Am I still beautiful? Have the years changed me?")
  • on their way walking to Desiree's house for a glass of wine, Fredrik fell into a large puddle, and Desiree offered him another man's frilly night-gown and night-cap to wear; when asked to comment on his clownish appearance (and how a woman could ever love a man), she told him: "Women don't care about beauty that much. And if necessary, they turn off the light...That's better than naked"
  • Fredrik was shocked when it was revealed that Desiree had a 4 year-old son named Fredrik after Frederick the Great (he was presumably older Fredrik's illegitimate son); when Fredrik insultingly commented that Desiree wasn't suited for "motherhood," he received a slap across the face
  • the owner of the night-garments unexpectedly arrived to confront Fredrik - he was Desiree's current flame of six months in an open relationship - an insanely-jealous, egotistical lover-suitor Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Jarl Kulle) and domineering, swaggering aristocratic military officer, who was married to Countess Charlotte Malcolm (Margit Carlqvist), one of Anne's good friends; the Count intimidated Fredrik with a dueling challenge: ("Do you like duels?... I've dueled 18 times. Pistol, epee, foil, bow and arrow, shotgun. I've only been injured six times"), before Fredrik was humiliatingly ordered to leave (wearing only his own undergarments); soon after, the Count and Desiree decided to quit their relationship
  • the film's main weekend event that brought all the principal characters together was initiated by the manipulative Desiree, who coaxed her elderly solitaire-playing mother Mrs. Armfeldt (Naima Wifstrand), a former courtesan, to invite the two married men (both recent lovers of Desiree): Fredrik (and Anne) with their maid Petra, and the Count (and the Countess), along with Henrik to her Ryarp country manor home
  • at the breakfast table, Petra continued to further sexually tantalize Henrik by opening her blouse and urging him to touch her naked upper breast; although tempted by her, Henrik resisted; shortly later with Anne who admitted that she was still a virgin, Petra confessed that she lost her virginity at age 16 and described it as "so delicious I almost died...I am always in love"; when Petra was asked: "Would you want to be a man?", she replied: "What a horrible idea!" - and they playfully wrestled and giggled on the bed
  • then, she pestered Henrik in his office about his heavy clothing, and slapped him for romantically courting Petra, when suddenly the two became embarrassed when realizing their mutual love for each other - causing tears to come to Anne's eyes; she also attempted to give her husband attention at his desk, but he was too busy and distracted

Anne Showing Loving Affection for Her Grown Stepson Henrik

With Anne, Charlotte Expressing Her Raging Anger at Her Philandering Husband the Count

(l to r): Fredrik, the Count, and Henrik
  • the Count's gossipy wife Charlotte (who had learned from her husband about Fredrik's secret rendezvous with Desiree the night before) arrived for a brief visit with Anne; although there was no evidence of infidelity by Fredrik with Desiree, the Countess attempted to stir up trouble by telling Anne about Fredrik's previous night's escapades with Desiree; Charlotte also expressed her raging hate for her philandering husband: ("I hate him! I hate him! I hate him! Men are repulsive. They are vain, arrogant, and hairy...Love is repulsive. And despite all that, I love him. I would do anything for him"), and her jealous envy of Desiree's attractiveness to men
  • upon arriving at the Armfeldt estate for the weekend party, Petra met the estate's beer-drinking groom-servant Frid (Åke Fridell), who took an immediate interest in his soulmate ("You're a damn hot thing!"); he demonstrated a button in Henrik's room (Mrs. Armfeldt's dead spouse's bedroom) that activated and opened up a secret bed compartment; as a bed slid out, a marble statue of a cherub emerged from the wall playing a trumpet; Petra exclaimed: "I should have a bed like that!"
  • once all the guests arrived for the traditional all-night "Midsummer Night" event held on the shortest night of the year, Desiree privately revealed to the Countess (her "enemy") her ultimate Machiavellian plan: to restore Charlotte to her husband the Count, and to have Desiree separate Fredrik from Anne ("Men never know what's best for them. We have to help them")
  • during the opening dinner, a discussion about seduction commenced; Countess Charlotte made a public wager with her husband that she could seduce Fredrik away from Anne in 15 minutes; the guests were served food and a magical spiked wine potion or elixir pressed from grapes to promote sensuality and seduction - with a mixture of a drop of a young woman's breast milk and a drop of semen from a young stallion
  • afterwards early the next morning, in reaction to some of the guests and their immoral talk at dinner, Henrik had suicidal intentions to hang himself, but when the attempt failed, he accidentally hit the button that activated the secret compartment with an emerging bed; the conservative-minded step-son found himself alone with Anne sleeping on the bed (she had retired early) - after discovering her, he exclaimed: "So I'm dead after all," and now feeling life-affirming, they pledged their love to each other, kissed, and made love (off-screen)

Henrik's Failed Suicide Attempt

Henrik Finding Anne Asleep on Secret Bed

Henrik and Anne Pledging Their Love and Kissing
  • [Note: Frid summarized for Petra what was happening to the various couples by explaining the "three smiles" that cycled during the summer night: ("The summer night laughs three times"): (1) at midnight - for passionate young lovers expressing romance with their hearts, exemplified by Henrik and Anne, (2) in the middle of the night - for "the foolish, the simple-minded, the incorrigible," seen in Frid and Petra's relationship, and (3) at dawn - for "the distressed and oppressed, the insomniacs, the deceived, the fearful, the lonely," referring to the Count and Countess, Fredrik and Desiree.]
Frid's Explanation to Petra of the Three "Smiles" on a Summer Night (Next to a Tree and In a Haystack)
  • during Frid's explanation, Henrik and Anne appeared and requested help from Petra and her new lover Frid to elope together; Fredrik watched them with dismay from afar as they rode off in an open carriage, and Anne discarded her veil; shortly later, Frid and Petra also became engaged when Petra demanded to be married
  • meanwhile, in the garden pavilion, Countess Charlotte had a romantic rendezvous with the vulnerable Fredrik to fulfill the public wager she had made. She deliberately caused her jealous husband to barge in, separate them, and challenge Fredrik to a game of Russian roulette. The Count had devised a cruel trick for the challenge - the revolver was rigged with only harmless soot, to scare everyone and again humiliate Fredrik's dignity
  • as the result of her success in seducing Fredrik, the Countess now demanded that the Count fulfill her wager's prize of a wish, and state his faithfulness to her: "I'll be faithful to you for at least seven eternities of love, six feigned smiles, and 57 whispers of love. I remain faithful to you until the great abyss do us part. I'll stay true to you, in my way." Fredrik was humiliated for being used by both the Countess and Desiree, but was assured by Desiree that she would not abandon him - her old lover - and would continue to be his friend and confidante: ("I feel so sorry for you...I'm here")
  • the film concluded with the dilemmas of the four pairs of lovers somewhat resolved at the start of a new day, with some winners and some losers (changed partners, a reconciliation, and an elopement) - with "three smiles" on the faces of the protagonists: Henrik with Anne, the Count with the Countess, and Frid with his fiancee Petra

Fredrik with Anne at the Theatre

Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck) - an Actress and Fredrik's Former Mistress

Fredrik's Sexy Maid Petra (Harriet Andersson)

With Desiree, Fredrik Wearing a Borrowed Nightgarment and Night-Cap

Desiree's 4 Year-Old Son Frederick (Illegitimate)

Jealous Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm (Jarl Kulle)

Countess Charlotte Malcolm (Margit Carlqvist) - the Count's Wife

Petra's Continued Flirtations to Henrik

Petra with the Estate's Groom-Valet Frid

Secret Bed Emerging From Compartment

Desiree Revealing Her Devious Plan to Countess Charlotte

Charlotte's Public Wager at Dinner (With Her Husband) That She Could Seduce Fredrik in 15 Minutes

Russian Roulette Challenge Between Fredrik and the Count

Charlotte Demanding Her Winning Bet Wish From Her Husband the Count

Desiree Comforting Fredrik (With Soot On His Face)


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