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Kerstin Nordback, a young Swedish girl stifled by small-town life, has an affair with Nils Asklund, a rootless sailor. When she mockingly announces that she is leaving him, he shoots her near the heart. Although she survives thanks to brilliant surgery, the subsequent scandal forces her to move to Stockholm and change her name. There she works at pharmacy and makes new friends at the residential hotel where she lives. However, the tranquility of her new existence is threatened when a reporter who originally covered the story recognizes her, Nils seeks her out upon his release from prison, and the doctor Stefan von Bremen, the fiance of one of her friends, falls in love with her.
Within a couple years after her film debut, The Count of the Old Town (1935), Ingrid Bergman was established as Sweden's most popular actress, eclipsing even Greta Garbo, who had been working in Hollywood for several years. Intermezzo (1936) became an international hit and A Woman's Face (1938) demonstrated Bergman's considerable range as an actress. After the success of the American remake of Intermezzo (1939) produced by David O. Selznick, she signed a long-term contract with him that began in April 1940; in the meantime, the hard-working actress returned to Stockholm to produced one more film: June Night (1940). In retrospect, one cannot help but feel that on a certain level Ingrid Bergman identified personally with Kerstin Nordback's predicament. As Donald Spoto points out in his 1997 biography Notorious: The Life of Ingrid Bergman, she felt stifled by the insularity of Sweden, saying: "I am happy I was born Swedish because this means having a tough education -- at least it was in my time. But I couldn't live there, even when I was in my twenties. Sweden is too far from the rest of the world psychologically. There you feel confined on an island."
June Night was well received upon its initial release in Sweden, especially due to Bergman's performance. In the newspaper Stockholms Lans Tidning, the reviewer wrote: "Ingrid Bergman shows, in June Night, that Swedish film art can create works of art that are of the highest class. The film is, above all, a triumph for her." In Boras Nyheter the reviewer wrote, "Per Lindberg's direction and Ingrid Bergman's acting in this film do not suffer from a comparison with good foreign films. The photography is some of the best ever seen in a Swedish film."
The films of Per Lindberg (1890-1944) have been neglected relative to those of the great Swedish silent directors such as Victor Sjostrom and Lindberg's contemporaries such as Gustaf Molander. A theater and film director, Lindberg studied under Max Reinhardt; no doubt the striking play of light and shadow in many scenes of June Night reflects this influence. After directing a couple of films in 1923 - Anna-Clara and her Brothers (1923) and The Norrtull Gang - Lindberg focused his energies on the theater and didn't make any more films until 1939 when he directed The Old Man's Coming and Rejoice in Their Youth; the latter was controversial due to its frank love scenes. One of his last films, The Talk of the Town (1941) was notable for its experimental Expressionistic touches; it failed both critically and commercially at the time of its release, though in recent years it has been reevaluated more sympathetically. Ake Dahlqvist (1901-1991), one of Sweden's most talented cinematographers at the time, worked regularly with directors such as Per Lindberg and Gustaf Molander; he photographed several films starring Ingrid Bergman, including Intermezzo and A Woman's Face.
Director: Per Lindberg
Screenplay: Ralten Hylten-Cavallius, based on the novel by Tora Nordstrom-Bonnier
Cinematography: Ake Dahlqvist
Editing: Oscar Rosander
Production design: Arne Akermark
Music: Jules Sylvain and Gunnar Johansson (arrangments)
Cast: Ingrid Bergman (Kerstin Nordback/Sara Nordana), Gunnar Sjoberg (Nils Asklund), Marianne Lofgren (Asa), Olof Widgren (Stefan von Bremen), Lill-Tollie Zellman (Jane Jacobs), Marianne Aminoff (Nickan Dahlin), Gabrial Alw (Prof. Tillberg), Carl Strom (Doctor Berggren).
by James Steffen