DVD: Wide Open / Sängkamrater (1974)

September 22, 2011 | By

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Film: Good/ DVD Transfer: Good/ DVD Extras: Good

Label: Impulse Pictures/ Region: 1 (NTSC) / Released: August 9, 2011

Genre: Erotica / Comedy

Synopsis:  A bed-hopping taxi driver helps the sister of his ‘roommate’ out of a sticky situation with drug dealers.

Special Features:  Interview with director Gustav Wiklund and actress Christina Lindberg (19:44) / Christina Lindberg Photo Galler (2:10) / Trailers for “Flossie,” “Anita,” “Exposed,” and “Justine & Juliette.” / Reversible sleeve




Perhaps due to the popularity of erotic films coming out of Europe, actor Gustav Wiklund decided to take the leap to writing and directing, and made the exploitive sexploitation naughtie Exposed / Exponerad (1971), starring Christina Lindberg, the voluptuous actress best-known for the nasty revenge drama Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974).

As he recounts in the DVD’s interview featurette, Wiklund sold the rights to Exposed to an American distributor, who in turn earned over $8 million. Believing he could capture a bit of coin for himself, Wiklund concocted a more peculiar follow-up film for Lindberg – a spoof of porn and gangster films, which seems a rather dicey move, considering it ridiculed the kind of flick horny men wanted to see in grindhouse and ersatz art theatres.

Wiklund’s script is as preposterous as the German Schoolgirl Report [M] series, setting up a narrative where there’s just boobery, copulation, and minor threats that never develop into anything nasty. Whether Wiklund was bored with adult films or had some contempt for the genre isn’t detailed by the director, but he deliberately made the men in Wide Open idiots and bed-hopping sleazebags, and the women just ‘things’ that instinctively pull down their panties because sex simply has to follow any encounter with men; or they run around their apartments in their birthday suits, because in Sweden, the femski volupti like to be at one with mater natoorski.

Lindberg, who appears in the interview featurette, admits she had little idea of what Wiklund’s script or characters were about, and there is a mild sense she felt his whole worldview of women were objects that disrobed and bent over when expected, or in her case, deserved a kick in the arse when not vacuuming the apartment correctly in the nude. (Yes, that’s a real scene.)

Wiklund apparently wanted Lindberg as his star, but after she returned from a successful venture in Japan (presumably to appear in the rarely-seen Sexresan Till Japan / Poruno no joô: Nippon sex ryokô, and the pink film Sex and Fury / Furyô anego den: Inoshika Ochô), her price was too high, so his budget could only afford two days of actual work with his former star.

Most of Lindberg’s scenes are brief and scattered throughout the film, but her role is fairly inconsequential once her character introduces Beryl (Gunilla Larsson) to erotic photography.
Larsson actually grounds the film whenever she’s onscreen, largely because she can act, and augments her role of a flake into someone more compelling – a foolish waif who gets in too deep when she gives in to her libido, and gets involved with drug dealers.

It sounds like a story with scope, but Wiklund’s drama is superficially about a taxi driver named Paul (Kent-Arne Dahgren, sporting serious prison tattoos) who makes moves on Beryl, his roommate’s sister. Beryl’s visits and stays are erratic, but she leaves a strong impression on Paul to the point where he’s willing to help her sort out the mess with the gangsters in the film’s finale.

Beryl’s dilemma begins when she locks herself out of an apartment during a party. Standing in the chilly Swedish wintrus chillium wearing only a towel to cover her bosumska volupyius, she bizarrely accepts a ride from Mr. X, a creepy older man offering ‘his guest room’ to shield her from the cold & potential embarrassment. Once she’s locked in the bedroom with Mr. X, she’s nearly whipped by her duplicitous benefactor, until an unknown woman enables her fast escape.

Wiklund never explains nor rationalizes his characters’ motivations, which is why they never call the police when Mr. X’s henchman makes threatening calls; instead of protecting themselves, Paul, Beryl, and sister Marianne (Thriller’s Solveig Andersson) decide to take a bubble bath before heading out for dinner & drinks.

The editing and structure is spastic, and most likely a fair chunk of material was shot, but as Wiklund recounts, he hired a real editor to cut his assembly into something coherent, which perhaps explains the often severe use of jump-cuts for perfunctory narrative scenes. The eventual confrontation between the henchman and the lead characters in a barn pops out of nowhere (it seems they were always planning on a having a barnyard frolic?), whereas other non-erotic scenes just leap to the next like compressed vignettes.

The finale is wrapped up in breakneck speed, but being a spoof, the only threat of violence occurs when the henchman forces the three leading ladies to dance a can-can on an amazingly solid oak bed.

Although filmed in Swedish, the English dubbed version is apparently all that remains (and possibly a French dubbed version, according to Wiklund’s off-screen interviewer). The print has some contrast issues, but is otherwise fairly clear. Grain isn’t too severe, and the colour levels tend to be strong whenever there’s a gel bathing a scene, such as Lindberg’s absurd sex scene in a barn with onlooking (and puzzled) cows.

Near cows, not with cows.

Olov Olofsson’s pop-jazz score is above average albeit unmemorable, but perhaps the most curious elements within the production isn’t the nudity, but the peculiar contrasts between ugly seventies styles – the men’s hairstyles are hideous, and Beryl looks like a sheepdog with her molded coif – and Swedish furniture, which still looks oddly contemporary. Marianne’s kitchen is right out of IKEA, as are the dishes, serving trays, and patterns on the bed linens. Classic prakticlum mobelski svenska modieska.

Impulse’s DVD seems to port over extras from a 2006 Klubb Super 8 release, which includes the interview featurette; a stills gallery of Lindberg, as snapped by husband Bo Sehlberg, who wanted her out of the erotic film genre altogether; and hysterically funny vintage trailers for soft and hard adult films & erotica. A reversible sleeve offers a nude Lindberg, but the main cover is far superior.

For Lindberg fans, there are a few choice scenes, but this swansong to leading roles in feature films isn’t her best. Lindberg titles released by Impulse include the brilliantly sleazy Anita (1973), Maid in Sweden (1971), and Schoolgirl Report 4: What Drives Parents to Despair (1972), and Wide Open (1974).



© 2011 Mark R. Hasan


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