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June Night (as part of the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 14, 2011 by  



A story about women and their relationships and Ingrid Bergman playing a vamp character trying to start a new life.  While the screenplay does have its issues, it was quite interesting to watch an early film showcasing women, their careers and problematic love.  Overall, a worthy inclusion  for Kino’s “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set.

Images courtesy of © 2011 Kino International Corp. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: June Night (Juninatten)

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 1940

DURATION: 85 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, Full Frame (1:37:1), Swedish with English subtitles

COMPANY: Kino International/Kino Lorber

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: 2011

Directed by Per Lindberg

Based on the novel by Tora Nordsrom-Bonnier

Written by Ragnar Hylten-Cavallius

Music by Gunnar Johansson, Jules Sylvain

Cinematography by Ake Dahlqvist

Starring:

Ingrid Bergman as Kerstin Norbac/Sara Nordana

Marianne Lofgren as Asa

Lill-Tollie Zellman as Jane Jacobs

Marianne Aminoff as Nickan Dahlin

Olof Widgren as Stefan von Bremen

Gunnar Sjoberg as Nils Asklund

Gabriel Alw as Professor Tillberg

Olof Winnerstrand as Count

Sigurd Wallen as Editor J:son-Eld

Hasse Ekman as Willy Wilson

Maritta Marke as Miss Vanja

Gudrun Bost as Mrs. Nilsson

John Botvid as Gurkan

Carl Strom as Doctor Berggren

Karin Swanstrom as Mrs. Cronsioo

Today, Ingrid Bergman’s name is synonymous with Hollywood’s golden age as a three-time Oscar winner and the star of such classics as Casablanca, Gaslight and Notorious. However, before she became a Hollywood legend, Bergman was the star of a series of Swedish films in the 1930s which are being rediscovered as a vital, if long-overlooked period in her singular career. Contains INTERMEZZO (1936), A WOMAN’S FACE (1938), and JUNE NIGHT (1940).

“She had talent they could not have made up Ingrid Bergman seemed as natural in her early films as she was dazzling – The Boston Globe.

Like Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, foreign actresses who would make their debut Hollywood and would be embraced by an International audience, from Sweden, there was Ingrid Bergman.

Winner of three Academy Awards, two Emmy’s, a Tony Award, each for “Best Actress” and considered one of the greatest female actresses of all time in America (ranked #4 in the American Film Institute’s “Greatest Female Star”), there is no doubt that Ingrid Bergman is looked at as a classy, talented actress.

Best known for her roles in “Casablanca” (1942), “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1943), “Gaslight” (1944), “The Bell of St. Mary’s” (1945), Hitchock’s “Spellbound” (1945) and “Notorious (1946), “Joan of Arc” (1948) and later in her career for “Anastasia” (1956), years before she began making Hollywood films, there was Ingrid Bergman, the Swedish actress.

Making her cinema debut in 1935 with “Munkbrogreven”, Bergman would not make her Hollywood debut until 1939. But before then, she had made several Swedish films and three of them are included in the Kino International DVD Box Set titled “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” which would contain her films “Intermezzo” (1936), “A Woman’s Face” (1938) and “June Night” (1940).

For her Swedish film “En kvinnas ansikte” (A Woman’s Face), the film would be the second Bergman film that would receive a Hollywood remake (this time starring Joan Crawford) in 1941 and the film would also feature another collaboration with Swedish actor and filmmaker Gustaf Molander.

For the third and final DVD in the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” Box Set, “Juninatten” (June Night) is a film that begins with Kerstin Norbac (played by Ingrid Bergman) leaving her sailor boyfriend Nils (played by Gunnar Sjoberg).  Nils feels as if she had treated him like  plaything and can up and leave, so he shoots her.

While saved by her doctor, unfortunately Kerstin’s shooting has become the “news interest” of the week and everyone awaits for her to talk about why she was shot at Nils court hearing.

Nils tells the judge that he was in love with Kerstin but her leaving him made the situation so desperate, that he intended to kill himself but instead shot her instead.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Cronsioo who raised Kerstin talked about how she was a young woman who had to many men going after her and always flirting with them and now got herself into a big mess with the sailor, the attempted murderer.

But despite the shooting, Kerstin still feels bad about him for some reason and asks the court to let him leave free, but if they do convict him, to please be lenient.

Not long after, she collapses due to her wound.

So, while Nils is convicted of her crime, her doctor who feels bad for her, wants her to start a new life, away from the media and that he has found a job for her in a new city working at a pharmacy.  Because she needs a new name, she dcides to go by the name of Sara Nordana.  But while she’s at the new city, she must visit his friend/a doctor to followup on the treatment of her wound.

So, as Sara moves to a new area and goes to visit the doctor, she is befriended by the kind nurse Asa (played by Marianne Lofgren) who tells her that she can live with her.  Meanwhile, Asa just began a romantic fling with the younger doctor, Stefan von Bremen at the hospital.

Sara moves into the new place to begin her new life and meets her other new roommates Jane Jacobs (played by Lill-Tollie Zellman) and Nickan Dahlin (played by Marianne Aminoff).

But as Sara tries to live her new life in peace, unfortunately, the love life of her roommates are not going exactly well.  For Asa, her boyfriend Stefan becomes so curious about Sara that he keeps wanting to meet with her.  And because of that curiosity, Asa worries that she may lose him.

The same can be said about Nickan.  She works at the Daily News (that were very preoccupied with Kerstin’s case) and the guy she really likes, journalist Willy Wilson is obsessed with the Kerstin Norbac story, so much that he can’t even have a proper relationship with her.  So, she hates Kerstin Norbac with a passion, not knowing that Sara is actually Kerstin.

Meanwhile, for Sara, she notices a blonde man following her at times.  She is not sure who he is but she is becoming interested in him.  Not knowing that the man is Asa’s boyfriend, Dr. Stefan von Bremen.

So, as Sara tries to start her new life at a new city, what will happen when her ex-boyfriend Nils (the man who shot her) comes looking for her, as does Nickan’s boyfriend, Willy.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“June Night” is presented in black and white (1:37:1) in Swedish with English subtitles.

First, let me just say how thrilled I am to see Ingrid Bergman’s earlier works being released on DVD in America. And knowing that a lot of the films from the silent years to the 30’s, chances of seeing print damage for these older films is common. The question is of how the original print has fared as they have been kept in the Svensk Film Vaults for quite a long time.

Black levels were nice and deep, whites and grays were also well-contrast. You can actually see the detail of the makeup of Bergman’s face quite well.  Definitely an improvement over the old Fox Lorber DVD.

As for the audio, the Swedish dialogue is clear and understandable, I detected no hissing or pops during my viewing of this film and the English subtitles were very easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features in any of the DVD’s for the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD box set.

EXTRAS:

There is a info. sheet included with the DVD Box set explaining Ingrid Bergman’s career.

 

For the third film presented in the “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set, once again, we have a film where Ingrid Bergman plays a not-so-nice character, a character who has faced difficulties but is now trying to move on with a new life.

In this case, a woman who had a not so good childhood and found a man who she found interesting and repaid his kindness with sex.  She didn’t love him but when she does try to leave him, he shoots her.  So, now this woman, tries to live a new life, with a new name in a different city.

“June Night” is more like a 1940 version of “Sex and the City”, of course, using standards at the time but showcasing women and their problems with love.  While Bergman’s character Kerstin/Sara is a bit more stoic and silent but yet caring (as she doesn’t want anyone knowing about her past), not to say that it’s her most undesirable role, but it’s a role in which the storyline must share with other women.  Asa, the caring nurse who finds herself in love with the young doctor and Nickan, the young telephone operator who works at the Daily News who wants to be closer with journalist Willy Wilson.

The problem with the film is that these two women have not had any major dates with these men but yet they are looking at one date as a sign that marriage will come very soon.

For Asa, she wants to love Stefan but she knows deep in her heart that he is preoccupied with work or being a single man who pretty much is more interested in sexual relationship.  The same can be said of Willy Wilson, the journalist who takes Nickan for a date, but immediately she wants him to confess his love and wants to move in with him.  He’s just more interested in having a one-night stand with her.

And because of their problems with men, these women try to talk about their problems with one another.

While it’s pretty interesting to see a 1940’s film tackle a female-driven storyline about their career and problems with men, it’s hard to take seriously when these women expect so much out of a man during the first date.  Especially when these men are more interested in having sex.

While this is a Bergman film, unlike the previous two films “Intermezzo” and “A Woman’s Face”, her role is of a genuine vamp and while later on, her character is a bit subdued, obviously it’s more of a decision to give the other women in the film their own character-driven plot.

And unfortunately, the screenplay is neither effective because the way things end is not exactly abrupt but leaning more towards ridiculous.  In fact, one scene that I wonder if people back then ever questioned it but it involves Kirsten’s first doctor, the one who saves her life.  Bare in mind, this is one of the best surgeons who pulled of a major life-saving heart surgery but during his scenes where his hand is shown, his hand is shaking a lot.  I’m surprised the director or cinematographer didn’t focus on a different shot that hides the intense shaking.  Granted, I know the issue probably wasn’t as noticeable back then as it does now, but I found those scenes to be interesting.

Granted, I will say that it was quite interesting to see the moral dilemma in Swedish cinema where in the U.S., American cinema was more conservative due to the Hays code.  So, it’s rather interesting to watch Bergman play a vamp.

Overall, “June Night” is an OK film.  I loved how the film incorporated the love lives of other women that lived with Sara but at the same time, I disliked how it tried to make certain situations a bit abrupt.  The ending was not exactly well-written but I know that the director/writer was focusing on the “love at first sight”, life can chance and decisions can be made so quickly and abruptly.

While we know these situations do happen in the real world, when we see it in “June Night”, the screenplay especially the final 15 minutes seemed rushed.

But within the context of showcasing the various roles that Ingrid Bergman played in Sweden cinema before her career took off, then “June Night” is worthy of being included in Kino’s “Ingrid Bergman in Sweden” DVD Box Set.

 NOTE: Review is for the film, not the overall DVD Box Set.


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