After seven years at sea Johannes Blom (Birger Malmsten) returns to Sweden to claim his beloved Sally (Gertrud Fridh) and take her away with him. However, the seven years as a singer in a music hall have weakened and embittered Sally. She sends Johannes away. He goes to the beach and remembers their first encounter: Captain Alexander Blom (Holger Löwenadler), owner of a salvage vessel, despises and torments his son Johannes, not least of all because of the hump on his back. He also tyrannizes his wife Alice and the crew of his salvage ship. He begins to drink too much and realizes that he is going blind. The captain brings the young singer Sally onto the ship as his mistress and finally wants to discover the world with her. Johannes’ hatred of his father turns into rebellion, but for the moment Alexander is still too strong for him. Sally sees through the father’s malevolent character, however, and is attracted to Johannes. The clash takes on dramatic forms.
Bergman’s third film, based on the eponymous play by Martin Söderhjelm, focuses on a topic that is very close to him: the father-son relationship. In the encounters between Johannes and Sally and with his mother, Bergman succeeds in depicting intensive psychological relations with ever more sophisticated filmic means.