Nationality: Swedish. Born: Saltsjö-Duvnäs, 8 March 1920. Education: Attended Royal Dramatic Theatre School, Stockholm. Family: Married Col. Sven Lampell, 1944, two sons. Career: 1941—stage acting debut; 1942—stage role in Rid i natt at Theatre Royal, Stockholm, then first film appearance in Gustaf Molander's film adaptation of that play; extensive stage career included singing roles, e.g., Jenny in Die Dreigoschenoper (1950); 1952–55—in European-filmed U.S. TV series Foreign Intrigue; 1970s—career predominantly devoted to writing. Awards: Aftontidningen's Film Trophy, 1946; Medal of Honour, Swedish Filmassociation, 1951; Mauritz Stiller Award, 1956; Best Actress (collectively awarded), Cannes Festival, for Brink of Life, 1958; Golden Beetle for Outstanding Performance, for The Cats, 1965. Address: c/o Svenska Filminstitutet, Kungsgatan 48, Stockholm C, Sweden; or, Rödklöverägen 39 S-16573 Hässelby, Sweden.
Films as Actress:
Rid i natt (Ride Tonight!) (Gustaf Molander)
Räkna de lyckliga stunderna blott (Only Count the Happy Moments) (Carlsten)
Oss tjuvar emellan eller En burk ananas (Between Us Thieves) (Olaf Molander); Svarta rosor (Black Roses) (Carlsten); Den allvarsamma leken (The Serious Game) (Carlsten)
Pengar—en tragikomisk saga (Money—a Tragicomedy) (Poppe); Brita i grosshandlarhuset (Brita in the Wholesaler's House) (Ohberg); Kärlek och störtlopp (Love and Downhill Skiing) (Husberg); Möte i natten (Meeting in the Night) (Ekman) (as Marit Rylander)
Nyckeln och ringen (Key and the Ring) (Henrikson); Två kvinnor (Two Women) (Sjöstrand); Folket i Simlångsdalen (People of the Simlången Valley) (Ohberg)
Var sin väg (Each to His Own Way) (Ekman); Lars Hård (Faustman); Eva (Gustaf Molander) (as Susanne); Flickan från fjällbyn (Girl from the Mountain Village) (Henrikson)
Kvinna i vitt (Woman in White) (Mattsson); Bara en mor (Only a Mother) (Sjöberg) (as Rya-Rya)
Hjärter Knekt (Jack of Hearts) (Ekman); Kastrullresan (Saucepan Journey) (Mattsson)
Sköna Helena (Helen of Troy) (Edgren); Bärande hav (Rolling Sea) (Mattsson); Fästmö uthyres (Fiancée for Hire) (Gustaf Molander)
Sabotage (Jonsson); Ubåt 39 (U-Boat 39) (Faustman); Trots (Defiance) (Gustaf Molander); Kvinnors väntan (Secrets of Women; Waiting Women) (Bergman) (as Karin); Kinder in Gottes Hand (Lindtberg)
Das Pestalozzidorf (The Village) (Lindtberg) (as Wanda Piwonska); Skuggan (Shadow) (Fant); Barabbas (Sjöberg); Kvinnohuset (House of Women) (Faustman); Göingehövdingen (The Chief from Göinge) (Ohberg)
En lektion i kärlek (A Lesson in Love) (Bergman) (as Marianne Erneman)
Resa i natten (Night Journey) (Faustman); Kvinnodröm (Dreams; Journey into Autumn) (Bergman) (as Susanne); Paradiset (Paradise) (Ragneborn); Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night) (Bergman) (as Desirée Armfeldt)
Sista paret ut (Last Pair Out; Last Couple Out) (Sjöberg) (as Susanna Dahlin); Tarps Elin (Fant)
Möten i skymningen (Twilight Meetings) (Kjellin); Sommarnöje sökes (Summer Place Wanted) (Ekman)
Nära livet (Brink of Life; So Close to Life) (Bergman) (as Stina Andersson)
Kärlekens decimaler (Decimals of Love) (Ekman); Tre önskningar (Three Wishes) (Ekman)
De sista stegen (A Matter of Morals) (Cromwell) (as Eva Walderman)
The Counterfeit Traitor (Seaton) (as Ingrid Erickson); Biljett till paradiset (Ticket to Paradise) (Mattsson)
För att inte tala om alla dessa kvinnor (All These Women; Now about All These Women) (Bergman) (as Adelaide);Älskande par (Loving Couples) (Zetterling) (as Mrs. Landborg)
Kattorna (The Cats) (Carlsen); Morianerna (Morianna; I, the Body) (Mattsson) (as Anna Vade)
Les Créatures (Varelserna) (Varda) (as Michele Quellec)
Den rode kappe (The Red Mantle; Hagbard and Signe) (Axel) (as the Queen); Mënniskor modes og sod musik opstår i hjertet (Männeskor mötas och ljuv musik uppstår i hjärtat; People Meet and Sweet Music Fills the Air) (Carlsen) (as Devah Sorensen)
Markurells i Wadköping (Markurells of Wadköping) (Dahlin—for TV)
Film as Scriptwriter:
Yngsjömordet (Woman of Darkness) (Mattsson)
By DAHLBECK: books—
Dessa mina minsta [My Smallest Ones] (play), 1955.
Föräves Abisag [In Vain Abisag] (play), 1957.
Genom fönstren [Through the Windows] (poems), under pseudonym Lis Edvardson, Stockholm, 1963.
Hem till kaos [Home to Chaos] (novel), Stockholm, 1964.
Sista spegeln [The Last Mirror] (novel), Stockholm, 1965.
Dem sjunde natten [The Seventh Night] (novel), Stockholm, 1966.
Domen [The Judgment] (novel), Stockholm, 1967.
Med seende ögon [With Seeing Eyes] (novel), Stockholm, 1972.
Hjärtslagen [The Heart Beats] (novel), Stockholm, 1974.
Saknadens dal [The Valley of Want] (novel), Stockholm, 1976.
Maktspråket [The Dictatorial Language] (novel), Stockholm, 1978.
I våra tomma rum [In Our Empty Rooms] (novel), Stockholm, 1980.
Serveto och den criga elden [Serveto and the Eternal Fire] (historic documentary), Stockholm, 1988.
Vapenhandlarens död [The Death of an Arms Dealer] (novel), Stockholm, 1991.
By DAHLBECK: articles—
"Framför filmkameran [In Front of the Camera]," in Filmboken/The Film Book, Stockholm, 1951–57.
Interview in Cinéma (Paris), July/August 1958.
On DAHLBECK: articles—
Chaplin (Stockholm), December 1965.
Ecran (Paris), November 1979.
* * *
Eva Dahlbeck was a major figure in Ingmar Bergman's films of the 1950s, from Waiting Women to Brink of Life. It is significant that her only subsequent appearance for him was in his only late comedy, Now about All These Women. 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 Waiting 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 Waiting 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. All three Björnstrand-Dahlbeck films are concerned with the humiliation of the male, exposing the vulnerability and childishness behind a complacent exterior; in all three Dahlbeck represents poise and maturity, with strong overtones of motherliness. (No doubt part of the sense of frustration one experiences with the curious, unsatisfactory Journey into Autumn derives from the fact that, although Björnstrand and Dahlbeck are both in it, they are never together.)
Bergman's most telling use of Dahlbeck, and arguably her finest performance, is in Brink of Life. The film draws upon the motherliness more explicitly than before: as one of three women sharing a room in a maternity ward, Dahlbeck exudes health, self-confidence, lovingness, warmth, and pride in her imminent motherhood, to a degree that, while remaining extremely sympathetic, continually threatens to become cloying. But this is central to the film's theme: the gulf between the images of ourselves we project (and believe in) and the reality that our consciousness can never quite control and that our bodies eventually express. In labor (in the film's most harrowing sequence) her body refuses to release the baby, finally killing it. Afterwards, her earth-mother image irreparably shattered, her entire comportment has changed: the moment when she viciously slaps the hand of the young woman (Bibi Andersson) who offers her water is among the most unforgettable in Bergman's cinema.