Port of Call (1948)

Port of Call (Hamnstad)hamnstad
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Written by Ingmar Bergman; story by Olle Länsberg
Svensk Filmindustri
First viewing/Hulu Plus


My professor told me when I started in the ’40s that a director should listen and keep his mouth shut. Took me a long time to understand I talked too much. Now I know you should listen with your ears – and your heart. — Ingmar Bergman

Bergman is still finding his way in this problem picture about troubled youth.

As the film opens, we see Berit jump into the dockside water fully-dressed.  She is promptly rescued by a good samaritan and is none too happy about it.  Now she is really in trouble.  Her mother is out of town but her social worker is immediately on her case.  Berit has already spent several years of her young life in a reformatory and is under constant threat of being sent back there.  She does not seem to have committed more serious crimes than going off with boys and talking back to her awful, domineering mother.


That night Berit meets Gösta, a recently returned sailor, at a dance.  She takes him back to the family’s empty apartment.  What starts off on his part as one-night stand turns into a love affair.  They go away for a weekend at a hotel and Berit runs into one of her dorm mates from the reformatory.  Even though Gösta says he doesn’t need to know anything about her past, she decides to spill everything about her sad life thus far.

Gösta can’t stop thinking about Birgit’s other men and rejects her.  Back home, Birgit has loaned her friend money for an illegal abortion.  The friend calls her from the abortionist’s house.  She is so ill she needs help and can’t go home.  Birgit takes her to Gösta’s apartment.  Gösta has a mighty struggle with his conscience.

port of call

There is nothing special to mark this film as a Bergman piece.  It’s not particularly psychologically astute and kind of pulls its last feeble note of optimism out of nowhere.  Not terrible by any means though.

Clip – Opening sequence

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *