Alice Eklund was the daughter of Swedish pioneer woman film director Anna Hofman-Uddgren and the journalist Gustaf Uddgren. Her contribution as a director is limited by the fact that she only directed one feature film, Flickorna på Uppåkra (‘The Girls at Uppåkra,’ 1936), with Lorens Marmstedt as co-director.
Eklund was first and foremost an actress and theatre director. She and her husband Ernst Eklund were the most popular celebrity couple of their day, both appearing on stage and running theatres together for many years: the Blanche Theatre, the Comedy Theatre and Oscars Theatre in Stockholm. In 1929 the two of them brought Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera” to Sweden: Alice played Polly and Ernst was Mack the Knife.
Unlike her husband, Alice never acted in films. However, she was involved in a couple of television dramas towards the end of her career, including Börje Mellvig’s 1963 play Fånga en fallande stjärna (‘Catch A Falling Star’), in which she played an elderly theatre diva. The part enabled her to reveal some of the charisma she must have had possessed in her acting heyday.
Flickorna på Uppåkra was a fairly light-hearted story of an adventurous mother with five daughters who take up agriculture to secure their finances. It was a film designed to appeal to audiences, with well-known names in well-chosen roles. It was also an ensemble piece typical of Swedish film comedies of the day. Isa Quensel was outstanding as one of the industrious daughters and Dagmar Ebbesen played the shrewish housekeeper who nonetheless has her heart in the right place. Semmy Friedmann played the “fly in the ointment”, a shifty lawyer. Torsten Quensel wrote the screenplay, which was based on a novel by Maja Jäderin-Hagfors.
Alice Eklund received favourable notices in the press: “In the way she guided her actors one could discern Alice Eklund’s cultured and finely-tuned sensitivity.” But the film remained the only one in which she was involved as a director.
Mikaela Kindblom (2012)
(translated by Derek Jones)
Main profession: Director
Flickorna på Uppåkra (1936)