Thursday, September 15, 2016

#2,194. Wide Open (1974)

Directed By: Gustav Wiklund

Starring: Kent-Arne Dahlgren, Solveig Andersson, Gunilla Larsson

AKA: "In the Netherlands this film was released as Loose Morals in Sweden"

Trivia: Per the director, Christina Lindberg demanded 1,500 Krona a day to do this film. As a result, they could only afford her for 2 days, so her role was substantially reduced

One look at the DVD cover, and I knew I had to see Wide Open. It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Christina Lindberg, who I consider to be one of the most gorgeous women in the history of the cinema, and the prospect of seeing another of her films was an appealing one. 

So, imagine my disappointment when I realized that, despite her nude body emblazoned on the DVD packaging, she was barely in this damn movie at all!

Taxi driver Paul (Kent-Arne Dahlgren) lives with his girlfriend Marianne (Solveig Andersson). After a run-in with his drunken father (Åke Fridell) at the race track, Paul brings the old man home, only to surprise Marianne, who at the time was walking around in the nude. Marianne agrees to let Paul’s dad sleep there for the night, but reminds Paul that he agreed to accompany her to a party later that evening, which will be screening a film that starred her little sister Beryl (Gunilla Larsson). Alas, the screening doesn’t go well at all (though Paul did get lucky with a random blonde in a back room), and a dejected Beryl decides that, like Paul’s dad, she’s going to crash at Marianne’s place for a few days.

The next morning, Marianne flies out of town on business, leaving Paul and Beryl on their own (by this point, his father has sobered up and gone home). While out looking for a job, Beryl runs into Eva (Lindberg), a fashion model whose specialty is posing in the buff. On a whim, Beryl tags along with Eva to her photo shoot, and ends up posing for some nudes herself. 

Well, her pics were obviously a hit, because a few days later Beryl is contacted by a man offering her a job that pays more than she’s ever earned before. With things looking up for her, Beryl and Paul decide to pay a visit to Beryl’s new friend Eva, who lives with her boyfriend Peter (Leif Ahrle). After the four agree to do a little partner swapping, Beryl heads out for cigarettes and is accidentally locked out of the apartment.

In what appears to be an act of kindness, a passerby referred to in the credits only as Mr. X (Jan-Olof Rydqvist) offers the stranded Beryl a lift to his place, saying she can sleep in his spare room for the night. His true intentions soon become apparent, however, when, after Beryl settles in, Mr. X bursts into the room and attacks her with a whip (the guy was a lot kinkier than he looked). To escape, Beryl runs from Mr. X’s house and, in her haste, picks up the wrong coat. It isn’t until later on that she realizes the fur coat she grabbed had packets of illegal drugs sewn into it. Needless to say, Mr. X wants the coat back, and sends his buffoon henchman (Tor Isedal) to track down Beryl (he never did get her name) and do whatever is necessary to retrieve what is rightfully his.

That’s a hell of a lot of plot for a soft-core sex comedy, and Wide Open is far too intricate for its own good (I didn’t even touch on the fact that, aside from Marianne and the blonde at the party, Paul is also having sex with Beryl and Eva on a regular basis). Even more perplexing are the seemingly random moments that director Wiklund includes from time to time; in one scene, a naked Eva is being roused out of bed by her boyfriend Peter, and in the very next she’s doing the nasty with Paul in a stable, with no explanation how either of them got there!

The icing on the cake, though, is the character of Paul, the slob who has sex with every beauty in this movie. Simply put, he’s a mean-hearted bastard from start to finish, insulting the girls every chance he gets and sleeping with first one and then the other, sometimes in the same night (the award for “Biggest Prick of the Film”, however, goes to Peter, who, in one bizarre sequence, kicks Eva right on her bare ass, knocking the poor girl to the ground). While Wide Open does deliver on its promise of nudity (including Lindberg, who, in her few short scenes, is rarely dressed), there’s not much else to it that’s worth noting.

Even if Christina Lindberg had a bigger role in Wide Open, I doubt I would have liked it very much; the film is far too scatterbrained and more than a little misogynistic. But because they drew me into watching this mess with the promise that she was its star, I kinda loathe this movie right now.

Of course, that feeling will eventually dissipate. Even if it did steer me wrong, I can’t stay mad at Christina Lindberg forever!

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