(director/writer: Ingmar Bergman; screenwriter: from the play Modherjertet by Leck Fischer; cinematographer: Gösta Roosling; editor: Oscar Rosander; music: Erland von Koch; cast: Inga Landgré (Nelly), Dagny Lind (Ingeborg), Marianne Löfgren (Jenny), Stig Olin (Jack), Allan Bohlin (Ulf); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Harald Molander/Victor Sjöström; Criterion Collection; 1946-Sweden-in Swedish with English subtitles)

“This seems to be a film best suited for Bergman completists.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ingmar Bergman’s (“Winter Light/”Persona”/”The Touch”) first full directorial debut, after his stint as a theater director at the Halsingborg City Theater, is a fiasco. It’s a contrived melodrama adapted from the Danish play The Maternal Instinct by Leck Fischer, in which Bergman later called “grandiose drivel.” The inexperienced Bergman was lost in the new medium and after three weeks of shooting, the studio sent noted Swedish director Victor Sjostrom to supervise. It results in a stagy and schematic morality play about the virtues of the clean living innocent country folks over the corrupt big city slickers.

The gaudy Jenny (Marianne Löfgren) after giving her baby daughter Nelly (Inga Landgré) to the kindly but poor piano teacher Ingeborg (Dagny Lind) to raise, returns after all these years of neglect to the tranquil country village to take back to Stockholm her now 18-year-old daughter. Though Nelly finds peace in such beautiful surroundings, she doesn’t find love and therefore takes up her biological mom’s offer on an impulse. She finds her village suitor, the older veterinarian (Allan Bohlin), a boarder in Ingeborg’s house, to be a bore. Once in the big city, Nelly works in mom’s beauty-shop and becomes corrupted by mom’s unwholesome lifestyle. The film’s most personable character, the only one not a cardboard figure, is the dark one played by Stig Olin. He’s the gregarious and playful Jack, a mysterious bow tie wearing, mustachioed seducer, with a secret violent past, who steals love and money from Jenny, and corrupts the innocent maiden Nelly.

This seems to be a film best suited for Bergman completists.

Kris (1946)