Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Bergman Tries Color and Comedy

Cleveland Press 1964

"All These Women" has some newsy sort of interest. It is the first time that Ingmar Bergman has used color. It is a comedy, and though Bergman is not new to the comedy field, he has never attempted it on this scale.

As for color -- Bergman has mastered it his first time out. His colors range from brilliant eye-bursting effects to the subtlest pastels, from scenes that use every color in the spectrum to moments that are in monochrome.

As for comedy, it is odd that Bergman -- a man so subtle that it is often difficult to fathom his meaning -- is so heavy handed in this. All right, forget his past record. Accept this as a comedy film and ignore the man who directed it.

It still comes across as something done by a man who is imitating the films of the Marx Brothers and the Keystone Cops but hasn't been inspired by them.

"ALL THESE WOMEN" is about the last days of a great cellist. He has one wife and six mistresses, a woman for every day of the week. They file past his coffin to bid him farewell and a critic-composer (Jarl Kulle) reads a eulogy.

The rest is in flashbacks. The critic is the synthesis of all evil critics. He is writing a biography of the cellist, and if this great artist will just play the critic's atrocious composition then the biography will certainly be a kind one. But if he doesn't, well . . .

The critic never gets to see the artist, but during his stay at the artist's mansion he flits from bedroom to bedroom and gets acquainted with his women.

The artist capitulates but before he can play the composition, "The Dream of a Fish, Abstraction No. 14," he falls dead.

THERE ARE SCENES of wild slapstick -- the critic running through the house with a crate of exploding fireworks, or struggling with a plaster bust that is falling off a pedestal. He writes with a red quill pen several feet long and with no discernible source of ink. He dons women's clothing in an attempt to see the cellist

Dialog ranges from the witty to the tactlessly ribald.

Bergman has called upon his usual company of players and they have responded skillfully in switching from serious drama to extravagant comedy.

Bergman has approached his comedy with too much intensity, and comedy is too fragile a commodity for that sort of handling.