I was surprised last year when film maker Ingmar Bergman died. Many of his films touched my life. There was a magic in his direction and the crew he worked with. The lighting was perfect and so were the actors. Many of them he used in numerous films.
One of those actresses Bergman used was Eva Dahlbeck who has taken her Final Taxi at age 87.
Born in 1920, Dahlbeck was one of Sweden’s most popular actresses in the 1940s and ’50s and became internationally known for her strong female leads in a number of Bergman’s films, including “Secrets of Women” (1952), “A Lesson of Love” (1954) and “Smiles of a Summer night” (1955).
It is significant that her only subsequent appearance for him was in his only late comedy, All These Women (1964). It is essentially as a comic presence—aware, ironic, sophisticated—that Dahlbeck functions in Bergman’s work, and the path he chose at the end of the 1950s led to the virtual abandonment of comedy.
In Secrets of Women, A Lesson in Love, and Smiles of a Summer Night Dahlbeck played opposite Gunnar Björnstrand, and they formed a team one might compare without absurdity to the great couples of Hollywood comedy, such as Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, playing to each other with extraordinarily refined precision and nuance. Their episode of the three-story Secrets of Women takes place almost entirely in an elevator stuck between floors in which, as a couple whose marriage has become stale and routine, they work their way through a series of mutual recriminations to discover a new basis for their relationship; the entire episode is built essentially on the actors’ comic gifts for facial expression, timing, and body language.
In the 1960s, she eventually came to give up acting as she started to write and Dahlbeck has not come back to filming or acting since the late 1960s (she made her last and final appearance in the Danish film Tintomara, released in 1970). She has published several novels and poems in her native Sweden, and much successfully wrote the screenplay for Arne Mattsson’s dark film piece Yngsjömordet (The Yngsjö Murder) in 1966.
In 1961 she was awarded the Eugene O’Neill Award for her highly critically acclaimed stage work in several plays.