Christina Lindberg’s First Taste of Love



Model-turned-actress Christina Lindberg has been known for, among other things, her natural vamp-ish presence, exuding and intermingling “mind your own business” deadliness and a certain post-1960s sex appeal.  Never was this truer than in her brutal 1973 tour de force, Thriller: A Cruel Picture (recently restored and made available in 4K by Vinegar Syndrome).  In that film, she is so striking that years later, Quentin Tarantino fashioned Daryl Hannah’s Kill Bill character heavily upon her.  With Thriller, the filmmakers knew what they had in their star.  With 1971’s Maid in Sweden, made just a couple years earlier, they decidedly did not.

A crass, messy coming of age tale with a soft sexploitation bent (as opposed to the other way around, which is how it’s promoted), Maid in Sweden tells the story of frigidly proper young Inga’s sexual awakening during a short visit with her older sister, Greta (Monica Ekman), in Sweden.  Upon arrival, the sheltered and rather innocent Inga learns that her sister is (gasp!) cohabitating with her boyfriend.  That night, uneasy dreams quickly follow as Greta sleeps with her semi-casual beau, Casten (Krister Ekman, Monica’s real-life husband), in the next room.  The dream sequence is disturbing for its assault elements (first by a crazed mob, then by a weird divorced lesbian) and is utterly extraneous to the movie itself.  I suppose a lightweight argument could be made that it informs Inga’s decisions going forward… but how?  It’s bluntly clear that everything that happens in this movie would happen regardless of anyone’s dreams.

Maid in Sweden is clearly not concerned with much other than getting Lindberg (credited on screen as “Kristina Lindberg”) out of her clothes.  Inga may not be much of a character, but she is very, very clean.  We know this because of all the baths and showers she takes.  It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a quarter of this eighty-minute film is Inga in the shower.  Another quarter is her changing clothes, and yet another is her eventually gettin’ it on.  (This is a good time to point out that Maid in Sweden, though originally rated X, is an R-rated movie.  It could be considered pornographic simply in its primary intent is to arouse, though it’s not an explicit hardcore affair).  The voluptuous Ms. Lindberg carries herself and this, her first film (well, definitely her first English language film) considerably well.  

For those not thrilled by the film’s star, Maid in Sweden has little else to entice you.  An acting tour de force it is not.  Visually, it manages to make the entire titular country look like a neglected college dorm room.  And worst of all, the story goes in rather revolting directions on more than one occasion.  Why must Inga be raped for her presumptive introduction to sex?  And why must she, upon losing the struggle, do a lusty about-face and be totally into it?  It’s hard to imagine that ever being culturally palatable, even in movies like this.  Inga and man in question, Bjorn (Leif Naeslund, looking like a member of The Who in its early days), bloom into a red-hot couple, squeezing in a few more “dates” before she must board train for home, effectively ending the movie.  On top of all that, it’s never even clear who the maid of the title is.  Apparently, it’s supposed to be Inga, though the only thing we see her clean is herself.

Code Red utilizes a brand new 2K master in its Blu-ray presentation of Maid in Sweden.  Basically, it looks like the film’s color benefits the most, as there’s still considerable print damage and wear and tear apparent.  But shouldn’t this kind of movie retain that grindhouse grunginess to some degree?  Don’t worry, it does.  The groovy soundtrack, brimming with sleazy-guitar-driven 1960s-sounding tunes like “First Taste of Love” and “You’re No Longer a Child”, all by John Tippet, Anthony Bird, Paul Burchill, Paul Anstey and Paul Hamblin, benefits from the sonic perks of the Blu-ray format.  The only extras are trailers for similar vintage low-brow Code Red titles such as Dagmar’s Hot Pants Inc.The Naked Ape, and Dirty O’Neil, as well as this one.  Strangely, at the end of all these trailers, there are a couple kitschy old public service commercials, apropos to nothing.  Because only you can prevent forest fires!

Though far from fine cinema, Maid in Sweden knows what it is.  It may not fully utilize the singular icy presence of the young Christina Lindberg, but the filmmakers knew not to tarry on their cast’s shortcomings… like acting.  Of all three main performers, only Monica Ekman as Greta registers as dramatically passable.  Lindberg would prevail in other films, although one could fault the wanting screenplay for giving her so little to work with.  It’s too bad that Maid in Sweden, like so many other films, reduces a young girl’s coming of age to happenstantial sexual experience.  But then, is anyone shocked?  There are, admittedly, a couple of appealing things in Maid in Sweden… but not much else.