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Plot: restoration artist takes in long-lost daughter. Drama and hilarity ensue…

Gloria Guida - Miss Teen Italy, 1974

Even though Blue Jeans is one of the earlier entries in Gloria Guida’s extensive, and often lowbrow, tour of duty as one of the prime Lolitas - together with Lilli Carati, and Jenny Tamburi – in the Golden Age of commedia sexy all’italiana genre it is not a typical example of the form. Guida carved out a respectable carrière thanks to her fantastic derrière. Former Miss Teen Italy, 1974 Gloria Guida was the star of a series of raunchy comedies, she wouldn't truly establish herself until her turn in Fernando di Leo’s To Be Twenty (1978). The year before la Guida played her soon-to-be signature liceale, or the Catholic school girl, in Silvio Amadio's La Minorenne (1974). 1975's La Liceale (1975) (released in North America as The Teasers) set Guida on the way to commedia sexy all’italiana superstardom and her liceale would figure into three sequels over the two-year period of 1978/79. Blue Jeans is cut from a different cloth and resembles her That Malicious Age (1975) more than anything else. That Malicious Age (1975) put glorious Gloria in advanced state of undress opposite of Nino Castelnuovo, Anita Sanders and peplum stars Andrea Aureli and Mimmo Palmara.

Like many of Guida's comedies Blue Jeans tends to be more on the melodramatic side than the outright comedic, although that does occasionally happen too. No matter what the circumstance what Guida's comedies did tend to feature was plenty of incidental - and situational nudity - and Blue Jeans is no different. Blue Jeans reunites slender-bodied Guida with Monika (1974) (released domestically as La Ragazzina) director Mario Imperoli, and co-stars Paolo Carlini, and Gian Luigi Chirizzi. Just like Monika is Blue Jeans at its best when it combines melodrama and comedy with the often very naked hijinks of Gloria Guida. As Il Resto del Carlin film critic Vittorio Spiga accurately observed Blue Jeans is "an adult comic book that flows into a real exaltation of the remarkable ass of Gloria Guida".

Wasting not a moment on illustrating exactly why the movie is called Blue Jeans the viewer is treated to a credit montage of the camera following and hovering around a pair of very lowcut Blue Jeans. At least Imperoli got his money’s worth out of Gloria Guida who the pair of jeans, and the glorious richly-formed posterior in them, belongs to. Blue Jeans is the kind of girl that gets catcalled, felt up in public places, and that makes drivers stare uncontrollably causing road collisions on a daily basis. Busted on a prostitution charge for soliciting a middle-aged client (Marco Tulli) Blue Jeans reveals that her name is Daniela Anselmi (Gloria Guida), and that she’s the illegitimate daughter of Latina, Lazio artist, Dr. Carlo Anselmi (Paolo Carlini). The authorities are willing to drop the charge if Carlo is prepared act as Daniela’s legal guardian until she reaches majority. Carlo dutifully agrees to his newfound parental duties, much to the chagrin of his live-in girlfriend Marisa (Annie Carol Edel, as Annie Karol Edel), jealous of the attention the young girl is getting. As Carlo attempts to teach Blue Jeans some culture, modesty, and, well, manners; her hormonally-charged pranks, and proclivity to run around naked, cause Carlo to grow affectionate of the stray. That is until Daniela’s squalid boyfriend Sergio Prandi (Gian Luigi Chirizzi) shows up, and things take a turn for the fatal. At least British comedy Venus (2006) with the late Peter O'Toole and Jodie Whittaker was so kind to lift most of its plot from an old Italian melodrama-comedy that few remember.

The eleventh hour introduction of Daniela’s lecherous boyfriend Sergio Prandi (Gian Luigi Chirizzi) is one of the screenplay's weaker moments. His presence disturbs the growing bond between Daniela and her estranged father. Chirizzi is a typical Italian prettyboy, and he’s obviously no David Hess, nor a Giovanni Lombardo Radice. While the role aims for a sociopathic loner, Chirizzi is only able to make Leo mildly annoying at worst. Prandi is about as threatening, or non-threatening rather, as the teen boys Daniela pulls a prank on during a socialite party at the opulent castle Moroni is restoring. A great source of comedy - outside of Guida’s tendency to turn up naked at the most inopportune moments - are the house servants that help Moroni in the day-to-day operations of the restoration. One of the servants is so smitten with Moroni that she follows his orders to the letter, even the scolding, slightly demeaning ones that Carlo throws her way in an offhand manner when he’s agitated. Other times they ensure that Carlo always has his orange juice.

It’s not exactly the sort of thing you’d expect of writer Piero Regnoli, a prolific scribe who started in the business in 1952 and who caught his first big break with Mario Bava’s I Vampiri (1957). Regnoli was the go-to man for commedia sexy all’italiana, sceneggiata, poliziotteschi, spaghetti westerns, and post-apocalyptic actioners, but he also signed off on some of the most horrid screenplays this side of Rossella Drudi and Claudio Fragasso when the Italian horror industry all but collapsed in the late 80s. For the most part the screenplay is a reworking of Imperoli’s earlier Monika (1974) and Regnoli might, or might not, be responsible for its third act murder scheme. The sudden and jarring shift in tone, and Daniela’s 180° behavioral change that results from it when Prandi appears, are the only strikes against the otherwise lighthearted Blue Jeans. What makes the tonal shift so damning is that prior to Prandi’s entrance Daniela had been a sexually promiscuous exhibitionist and her turning docile and submissive in the face of her socially non-adapted lover doesn’t quite gel with anything and everything prior. Her precociousness, lust for life and Mediterranean temperament are completely negated once Prandi makes his entrance as Moroni’s supposedly-but-not-really mute apprentice.

Returning from Monika (1974) are Paolo Carlini, Gian Luigi Chirizzi, and in a much smaller role, Mario di Girolamo. Annie Carol Edel had been a reliable supporting actress in comedies, peplum, and dramas of various stripe. Blue Jeans arrived towards her fin de carrière. Before and after Blue Jeans Edel was in films from Antonio Margheriti, Bitto Albertini, and Umberto Lenzi, but also in productions from legendary hacks as Bruno Mattei, Joe D’Amato, and Alfonso Brescia. Edel partially redeemed herself with Salomè (1986), an art house adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play chronicling the Biblical tale of King Herod and Princess Salomé. Paolo Carlini and Gloria Guida appear to be the primary draw as far as cast is concerned. Guida for being the pretty new girl, and Carlini was a respected character actor.

The obvious reason to see Blue Jeans is Blue Jeans herself, Gloria Guida. Imperoli gets a lot of mileage out of Guida, who was completely comfortable shedding clothes whenever the script required, and he shoots her from every flattering angle. Whether it are the bookends where Imperoli’s camera focuses on Guida’s ample behind, the pranks Blue Jeans pulls at a socialite party in her new home, or the tricks she pulls on the dim-witted housekeeping staff at the castle – all of it usually involves the loss of clothing. A big draw for Blue Jeans is the extensive nudity on account of Gloria Guida. Guida, who compensates her lack in chest by her long legs and ample behind, was never the greatest, or most gifted, of the Lolita comedy actresses – but her lack of acting talent didn’t impede on her apparent ability to build an extensive career around taking her clothes off on a semi-regular basis. None of the nudity in Blue Jeans is crass and/or debasing as Mario Imperoli was a craftsman, first and foremost, and not an ordinary smut peddler as certain other Italian directors of dubious merit. Blue Jeans is rife with images of Gloria Guida in the buff, but none of it is ever vulgar as it would have been in lesser hands.

Proving that a modest budget and a simple premise - or more likely the constant presence of Gloria Guida’s fantastic ass - put more butts in seats than her acting talent Blue Jeans grossed a total of around 310 million lire at the Italian box office. None too shabby for an unassuming little genre exercise low on plot and who’s entire raison d'être seemed to be Gloria Guida in various stages of undress. What probably also helped was that Mario Imperoli knew that it took more than pointing the camera at a beautiful girl in, or preferably out, of whatever little fabric she was wearing. Imperoli’s direction is workmanlike, and just like Gloria Guida still manifested no discernable acting talent beyond taking her clothes off, Imperoli compensated in competence what he lacked in individual style. All of which doesn’t stop Blue Jeans from being a very enjoyable romp, especially prior to the clumsy third act revelations and hasty conclusion. It wouldn’t be until Fernando di Leo’s subtextual tour de force To Be Twenty (1978) that Gloria Guida showed some depth in her acting, probably due to the presence of fellow Lolita Lilli Carati.

Plot: small-town girl discovers the sordid underbelly of Stockholm

Scandinavian exploitation starlet Christina Lindberg was born in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1950 and originally studied for archeologist before venturing into the world of modeling and later cinema. During high school Lindberg started modeling, first in swimsuit for newspapers and later in nude pictorials with Mayfair, Lui and Playboy. Lindberg was a Penthouse Pet in 1970. In 1973 she released her photo book This Is Christina Lindberg by her photographer and soon-to-be husband Bo Sehlberg. Sehlberg refused to let her work with other photographers and forced Lindberg out of exploitation cinema. For much of the 1970s Gothenburg-born starlet Christina Lindberg was the subject of a number of mostly impoverished exploitation films awash with full frontal nudity and simulated sex. Together with Janet Ågren, and the lesser known Leena Skoog, Christina Lindberg was one of the more recognizable faces in the European exploitation industry.

Maid in Sweden, the most innocuous of Lindberg’s early oeuvre, professes to be a coming-of-age story and a journey of sexual awakening for a naive smalltown girl in the big city. Co-produced by Cannon from a screenplay by Ronnie Friedland and George T. Norris it is exploitation masquerading as a legitimate drama. Screenwriter Friedland had served as a second unit director on Joseph Sarno’s The Seduction Of Inga (1968), which goes in part to explain the many similarities between this and the source material. Norris would later pen the screenplay to the Robert Ginty vigilante actioner The Exterminator 2 (1984). Maid In Sweden leans closer to French erotic cinema of the day than to the mesmerizing surreal Czech fairytale Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) from Jaromil Jires. In the movie Lindberg does exude the same kind of cherubic charm as genre starlets Gloria Guida, Tina Romero, Susan Hemingway, or Jaroslava Schallerová.

The plot, or what little is supposed to pass for it, concerns itself with milkmaid Inga (Christina Lindberg, as Kristina Lindberg) who lives in a sleepy farming hamlet in Sweden. One day she receives a letter from her emancipated libertine sister Greta (Monika Ekman) inviting her to spent a weekend in Stockholm. The visit starts out innocently enough, but soon Inga’s beauty, and her tendency to disrobe at the drop of a hat, has her involved in a number of compromising situations. Perceptive viewers will have surely noticed that Inga and Greta were both characters in Joe Sarno’s The Seduction Of Inga, that starred softcore scorcher Marie Liljedahl - who starred in a number of sexploitation movies from 1966 to 1970 from directors as Hubert Frank, Torgny Wickman and the inevitable Jesús Franco - and which Maid in Sweden pilfers in terms of plot. Maid in Sweden is both episodic and formulaic with Lindberg’s often naked form as the only selling point for what is otherwise a trite and banal exercise in low-budget filmmaking. Lindberg’s later Anita Swedish Nymphet (1973) had better production values than this little number.

Instead of embracing its exploitation undercurrent Maid in Sweden actually tries to pass itself off as a coming-of-age story and a tale of sexual awakening. Something which the French Don’t Deliver Us From Evil (1971) and the Italian Monika (1974) did far better. Unlike Monika  and Honeybun (1988) a decade and a half later, Maid in Sweden does not hide its more dubious aspects behind a veneer of comedy and slapstick. Once Inga sees the bewildering effects that her considerable physical assets have on those around her, specifically men, she remains gridlocked in her conviction that everybody has her best interest at heart. When seemingly everybody around her then continues to take advantage of her smalltown naiveté it completely negates whatever little dramatic effect is supposedly generated as Inga learns nothing from her experience in the big city. When she returns home after the weekend nothing substantial has changed, neither has she (or anybody else) undergone any mentionworthy growth, or arc, as a character.

None of the plot is particularly believable. Greta’s douche canoe boyfriend Carsten (Krister Ekman) first opines that Inga is too much of a goodie two-shoes and lines her up with the abominable delinquent-in-waiting Björn (Leif Naeslund). After a tedious date montage the contemptible Björn, true to form as an acquaintance of the equally rephrensible Carsten, attempts to rape an oblivious Inga. Later, seeking trust and solace in a relative, Inga is raped a second time by her own sister in the prequisite bout of sapphic seduction. Far more damning is that twice does Maid in Sweden brush said behavior off as acceptable social etiquette. Adding an extra ick factor is that the Greta and Carsten coupling, who are the subject of one or two simulated sex scenes, are played by sibling actors. After taking a steamy shower, shot in slow motion for maximum effect, Inga then returns to boink the despicable Björn a second time in what can only be construed as Stockholm syndrome. Returning in silentio noctis to the apartment Carsten comes onto Inga, something she is – for reasons both unfathomable and unexplained – all too eager to reciprocate. Greta catches the two in flagrante delicto and, against all logic and reason, throws Inga (and not the far more deserving Carsten) into the streets.

The entire raison d'être of Maid in Sweden is to showcase Lindberg’s luscious hourglass figure as often and early as possible. It’s hard to fathom that the voluptuous, uninhibited, and then-twenty-one year old Lindberg never ended up working in productions from continental European directors as Jean Rollin, Jesús Franco, Joe D’Amato, or Tinto Brass. Brass especially would have shot Lindberg - whose figure is similar to that of Debora Caprioglio - in loving detail. At least the writers/producers behind Maid in Sweden were smart enough to realize that the minimal plot is merely a preamble to have Lindberg disrobing, or engaging in assorted lewd activities, with regular interval. Whether it is her changing clothes in a train compartment, imagening getting sexually assaulted, taking a soapy bath, or simulating intercourse. Maid in Sweden is exploitative to a fault and this movie would have fallen into obscurity if it weren’t for the frequently disrobing of its top-heavy star. In fact it frequently borders on a Scandinavian equivalent to an Armando Bó directed down-market Isabel Sarli exploitation flick. None of it is particularly pretty to look at, but nobody's here for the art anyway...