SWEDISH WILDCATS (1975 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, February 1975 (vol. 42, no. 493). -– J.R.



Swedish Wildcats

U.S.A./Sweden, 1974

Director: Joseph W. Sarno


Copenhagen. Margareta, a brothel madam who displays her prostitutes in elaborate cabaret revues at private parties, summons her two orphan nieces Susanna and Karen — both part of her entourage — to participate in a ‘slave auction’ staged for some local clients. Gerhard Jensen, chief of a ground crew handling air cargo, bids for Karen and then offers to pay extra to share a room with Susanna and his friend; Margareta agrees and watches the results through a two-way mirror: Gerhard complains to Karen, “I could get more excitement from a piece of raw liver”, and tries to make love to Susanna, then beats her when she refuses to kiss him on the mouth. In a park, Susanna meets Peter Borg, another member of Gerhard’s crew; it is love at first sight, and she presents herself as Natasha, a ballet dancer, while he claims to be a test pilot working on a secret project. Meanwhile, her sister Karen has also fallen in love with someone who doesn’t know her profession — Gabriel, an architect from a very respectable family. Gerhard, who encounters Peter and Susanna in the park one day, and vaguely recalls having met the latter, is smuggling goods into the country, and threatens to harm ‘Natasha’ if Peter exposes him. Soon after Karen leaves to elope with Gabriel and move to America, a rich ship owner named Mikolos requests the services of the two ‘Swedish sisters’; Margareta asks another girl to impersonate Karen, and when this ploy fails, decides angrily to phone Gabriel’s father to reveal Karen’s identity but is stopped by Susanna’s threat to kill her. Meanwhile, Gerhard has recalled where he met Susanna, and stages a sadistic prank by arranging a contrived ‘birthday party’ for another crew member at Margareta’s establishment and forcing Peter to come along. Susanna, dressed as Salome, is cruelly unveiled to Peter, who leaves in disgust; Gerhard tells her that Peter isn’t a pilot and then proceeds to make love to her brutally, until the police arrive and arrest him for smuggling. Meeting again in the park, Peter and Susanna are reunited: he says he’s giving up being a pilot, and she replies that she’s through with ballet.

swedish-wildcatsApart from some competent character-acting by Diana Dors, Swedish Wildcats is strictly a routine example of the current trend in sexploitation to ‘go straight’ and aim for the Love Story market while scaling the gamier parts of the genre down to soft-core dimensions. The sheer villainy of Gerhard and the sob-story treatment of the orphaned sisters place the moral tone within hailing distance of Griffith’s melodramas, but without a scrap of the Master’s stylistics or conviction. And the gushy Muzak ambience of the park episodes with Susanna and Peter, which frequently appear to be intercut with the remaining plot at random, is not helped substantially by the copy of Catch-22 that Peter is assigned to carry. The costumes and cabaret acts have a reasonable amount of gloss, but some of this strategy tends to work against the love-making scenes: most of the women are reasonably attractive, but they usually look best when dressed in street clothes or made up for their stage performances, so that the erotics of strip-tease are often subtly reversed.




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