A Subtle Flirt

1934

  • Director: Gustaf Molander
  • Script: Gösta Stevens
  • Cinematographer: Åke Dahlqvist

A Subtle Flirt (Swedish: En stilla flirt), based on a Norwegian novel by Edith Øberg and directed by Gustaf Molander, is about an orphaned girl, Diddi Werner (played by Norwegian-Swedish actress Tutta Rolf), who thinks she lacks sex appeal. During the course of the film, she’s helped by her friend (Margit Manstad) to transition from an innocent student into a seductive variety show primadonna. It’s a simple premise, and employs the usual device from 1930s comedies whereby the principal character is transformed and manages to win over her love interest. The cast includes Ernst Eklund and Thor Modéen, who were screen giants at the time.

SF Studios’ comedies were sophisticated and urbane.

Released in 1934, it was a product of the studio as it was led by Artistic Director Karin Swanström. She approved of elegant comedies based on well-known Scandinavian models, preferably with a popular song or two. The film that arguably initiated that was Servant’s Entrance (1932), also directed by Molander and with Rolf in the lead role. As with Servant’s Entrance, this film was produced in a Norwegian and a Swedish version. The production line for SF Studios was the opposite of how things were done at Europa Film. While the latter focussed on popular comedies in provincial settings, SF Studios’ comedies were more sophisticated and urbane.

When it was released, A Subtle Flirt was well received by critics who felt that technically it reached international standards, but they judged the story to be banal and superficial. This didn’t prevent the film from being launched internationally and it was the first Swedish film to be sent to international film festivals, where it won awards. At the Venice Film Festival the film earned a honourable mention, and at the Vienna film festival it took the festival prize.

A Subtle Flirt can’t be discussed without mentioning the classic popular tune of the same name that came out with the film. “En stilla flirt” was composed by Jules Sylvain with lyrics by Gösta Stevens, and first recorded by Tutta Rolf. It has gone on to be covered by many other artists, a true Swedish evergreen.