Ingmar Bergman made many films, this one made him.
Although a marvelous achievement in its own right, this matchless comedy of manners, "Smiles Of A Summer Night" stands out as a landmark, recognized by many as such during the past 50 years. Most recently it made the All-TIMES 100 list of best films compiled by renowned film critics Corliss and Schickel for Times Magasine.
As late as in an interview recorded in 2003, Ingmar Bergman agreed to call "Smiles Of A Summer Night" a watershed in his film career. "After its success", he recalled "I had my hands free... I was able to do whatever I wanted to do." Truly enough, he went on to make, in immediate succession, such great films like "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries".
And it was only the beginning of what best can be described as Bergmansk phenomenon. "The Virgin Spring", Through A Glass Darkly", "Persona", "Cries and Whispers", "Autumn Sonata", "Fanny and Alexander". One true classic after the other was bestowed upon us by this undisputed grandmaster of the world cinema during the course of his rich, fruitful career.
With superb acting, lively dialog and impeccable cinematography, "Smiles" leaves nothing to be desired. It seems to be a happy story, at least from the audience's point of view.
Still, the director recalls, in his published memoirs, how depressed he was being stuck with the script, how bad he felt during production, and how embarrassed he was to find out about film's great success at Cannes, where it won the Grand Prix. All this was unprecedented for the producers, the Svensk Filmindustri as they responded "like an old lady who never knew to waltz, now suddenly being asked by a variety of cavaliers", to quote Bergman.