Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish master of angst and incessant psychological probings, may not be the first director one thinks of for romantic comedy, but he created a delightfully memorable genre milestone with 1955's wondrous Smiles of a Summer Night (upon which composer Stephen Sondheim and filmmaker Woody Allen later based separate works). A perfect example of playful drawing-room comedy, Smiles shimmers with coyness and frivolity on the surface, yet plunges into the bittersweet depths of love's complicated nature. Middle-aged lawyer Fredrik Egerman (Bergman-film regular Gunnar Björnstrand) frets and fusses tenderly over his new young wife, Anne (Ulla Jacobsson), but can't quite convince her to surrender her virginity. Unknown to Fredrik, his adult son, clergy-bound Henrik (Björn Bjelfvenstam, shudders with frustration in the wings. Fredrik's old lover Desiree (Eva Dahlbeck) abruptly resurfaces with her own secrets; the appearance of her current, insufferably pompous inamorato, results in a tense one-night gathering with husbands, wives, lovers, and children all at one another's throats.