Feature Film, 1952

Waiting Women

Four sisters-in-law talk about their marriages in a series of humorous episodes.

"Ingmar Bergman depicts people like a fish monger skinning a fish: a few swift cuts with the knife reveal what lies underneath."
Karl Ekwall in Aftontidningen

About the film

Ingmar Bergman had not directed a feature since the fiasco of High Tension. All he had done in the meantime was co-write a screenplay and direct a handful of commercials. What he needed, quite simply, was to set things right. Bergman in Images: My Life in Film

The idea for the film came from my wife at the time, Gun Hagberg. Before we met, she had married into a large family with a big summer place on the Danish island of Jylland. Gun told me how one evening the women of the clan remained sitting at the table after the evening meal and how they began to really talk to each other. With great openness they spoke of their marriages and their loves. I thought this an excellent framework for a film consisting of tree stories. My financial situation after the production standstill forced me to sign a second-rate (to put it mildly) contract with Svensk Filmindustri. I was painfully aware that I had to come up with a successful film. In other words, a comedy seemed an absolute necessity. Such a comedy was manifested in the third episode of the film: Eva Dahlbeck and Gunnar Björnstrand in the elevator. For the first time, I heard an audience laugh at something I had created. Eva and Gunnar had experience in comedy and knew exactly the many ways to skin a cat. That this little comedy routine in the narrow space of the elevator was funny is completely thanks to them.

Sources of inspiration 

The French critic and fellow director François Truffaut has claimed that Waiting Women was probably influenced by Joseph Mankiewicz's marital comedy A Letter to Three Wives (1949). Bergman himself has admitted that the lack of dialogue in the central episode was inspired by two films by the 1930s Czech director, Gustav Machaty (Extasy and Nocturne), both of which were almost entirely devoid of dialogue. 'I saw Ecstasy when I was eighteen years old, and it deeply affected me. This was partly a natural reaction because, for once, one was allowed to see a nude woman on scene, but more important, because the movie told nearly everything through images alone.'

In Bergman on Bergman the interviewers asked Bergman how he worked up the film's famous elevator scene: 'Thanks to Hitchcock, particularly, I'd long been intrigued by shooting long sequences in difficult and cramped circumstances, weeding out everything irrelevant – quite simply, in making things hard for myself.'

Shooting the film 

Shooting took place during the spring of 1952, from the beginning of April until the end of May with a few extra days in the middle of June to tie up some loose ends. The swimming pool – with its live pike and the lift were constructed in the Råsunda studios. The cramped spaces, together with Bergman's desire for long, coherent takes, made great demands on the cinematographer Gunnar Fischer. His efforts were summed up by Lasse Bergström in the following words: 'He is the cameraman who has imbued every image in this film with a unique lustre and a unique beauty. With a collaborator like this, Ingmar Bergman will never falter.'


  • The Ingmar Bergman Archives.
  • Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film.
  • Stig Björkman, Torsten Manns and Jonas Sima, Bergman on Berg­man, (New York: Da Capo P., 1993).


  • Anita Björk
  • Eva Dahlbeck
  • Maj-Britt Nilsson
  • Birger Malmsten
  • Gunnar Björnstrand
  • Karl-Arne Holmsten
  • Jarl Kulle
  • Aino Taube
  • Håkan Westergren
  • Gerd Andersson
  • Björn Bjelfvenstam
  • Carl Ström
  • Märta Arbin
  • Kjell Nordenskiöld
  • Lena Brogren
  • Torsten Lilliecrona
  • Victor Violacci
  • Naima Wifstrand, årsjubileum
  • Lil Yunkers
  • Douglas Håge
  • Mona Geijer-Falkner
  • Wiktor "Kulörten" Andersson
  • Sten Hedlund
  • Leif-Åke Kusbom
  • Jens Fischer
  • Peter Fischer
  • Rut Karlsson
  • Sten Mattsson
  • Monsieur Cadenel
  • Madame Candelliet
  • Mademoiselle Blotin
  • Monsieur Bernard
  • Ingmar Bergman
  • Gustav Roger
  • Inga Berggren
  • Carl-Gustaf Kruuse af Verchou
  • Rolf Ericson
  • Bengt-Arne Wallin
  • Åke Lindberg
  • Saidi Hultholm
  • Leon Lidvall
  • Nils Svenwall, Art Director
  • Ragnar Frisk, First Assistant Cameraman
  • Maurice Brunet, Assistant Camera Operator
  • Lennart Wallin, Boom Operator
  • Gunnar Fischer, Director of Photography
  • Oscar Rosander, Film Editor
  • Barbro Sörman, Costume Designer
  • Sven Hansen, Production Mixer
  • Sven Persson, Re-recording Mixer
  • Erik Nordgren, Music Composer
  • Eskil Eckert-Lundin, Orchestra Leader
  • Allan Ekelund, Production Manager / Production Coordinator
  • Bente Munk, Script Supervisor
  • Louis Huch, Still Photographer