“Men never know what’s best for them; we have to put them on the right track.”
When a middle-aged lawyer (Gunnar Bjornstrand) married to a virginal teen (Ulla Jacobssen) pays a visit to his long-time mistress (Eva Dahlbeck), he encounters her most recent lover (Jarl Kulle), who jealously proposes a duel; meanwhile, Bjornstrand’s grown son (Bjorn Bjelvenstam) harbors a secret crush on Jacobssen, while Kulle’s neglected wife (Margit Carlquist) is determined to win her husband back.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that he views this “sophisticated bedroom farce” — “one of Ingmar Bergman’s most popular films” — “as a tribute… to those women who are clever and brave enough to shape their own worlds despite husbands and lovers who make up the rules.” He notes that while the “film has been compared to Lubitsch’s comedies of manners and Renoir’s Rules of the Game,” he is “more reminded of the works of Max Ophuls, whose men are ruled by pride and whose women are so guided by their hearts that they become obsessed with winning men who they realize aren’t worthy of them”. Indeed, the male characters in SOASN are so clearly “no prizes” that one can easily see why Scandinavian countries eventually became world leaders in feminist equality (!); the women here are, without exception, the ones with firm heads on their shoulders. Peary points out that while the “film is wise and cynical”, you’ll “also think it hilarious if you… pay attention to the indignities Bjornstrand suffers”, such as “fall[ing] headlong into a puddle”; being forced (by Dahlbeck) to “wear a ridiculous nightshirt, cap, and gown”; being unable to “get Dahlbeck to admit that her son, who has his first name, is his child”; etc. The film’s “excellent acting, [fine] photography (by Gunnar Fischer), [and] set design (by P.A. Lundgren)” all contribute towards the enjoyment of this early Bergman masterpiece.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by the entire cast
- Gunnar Fischer’s cinematography
- Bergman’s clever, deceptively lighthearted screenplay
Yes, as a classic of Scandinavian cinema.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)