Tuesday, August 7, 2007

All These Women (För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor) (1964)

Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Written by Bergman and Erland Josephson
Starring: Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Eva Dahlbeck, Jarl Kulle
IMDB Entry
Back in college, I took a course called "Emergence of the Artist."  The idea was to follow the career of a film director and see how he developed.  The first time they gave it, it was about Alfred Hitchcock, but when I took it, the director in question in Ingmar Bergman.
The professor, Frank Gado, had his quirks.  One was that the only type of art that was worth studying was those which examined the relationship between man and God. The other was that he was a passionate fan (and acquaintance) of Ingmar Bergman.
We watched 23 films in the ten weeks of the course (Union College had 10-week trimesters and is still unable to change this to two 15-week semesters with various objections that boiled down to the argument "It can't be done!" as though 90% of US colleges didn't exist).
We started with Bergman's first film, Frenzy, (as writer, and it has nothing to do with the Hitchcock title) and went through a lot of things that are rarely shown these days:  Illicit Interlude, Thirst, The Naked Night.  And eventually All These Women.
In 1964, foreign films were given US titles, and All These Women is not exactly the Swedish title, which is better translated as Let's not talk about all these women. A bit wordy, but, in a way, it fits, since All These Women is unique among Bergman's films.  It's a comedy.  A slapstick comedy.
Yes, for someone known as making serious and often depression films. Bergman had his bright side.  Of course, his best known film (at least, in adaptation) is also a comedy:  Smiles of a Summer Night.  But that was a French-style reaction comedy, where the humor comes out of how the characters react.  All these Women is pure slapstick.
It announces this very early on:  it starts with a funeral scene.  But instead of Death in a black cape, the soundtrack is playing "Yes, We Have No Bananas."  The story involves flashbacks of the dead man, a famed cellist who has affairs with many women (he schedules their lovemaking so they don't meet).
Jarl Kulle plays Cornelius, a writer trying to do a biography of the cellist, Felix (who is never seen). The film was also Bergman's first film in color.
It did not get particularly good reviews, but I remember it was mildly funny and worth checking out.  It seems to have gained a bit in stature over the years, as people see the typical Bergman themes underneath the slapstick (it's clear that the character of Felix is a stand in for Bergman himself).  But it's especially fascinating if, as you watch the slapstick, you tell yourself this is slapstick done by Ingmar Bergman. The idea alone is worth quite a few smiles.

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