Release Date(s)1971 (August 9, 2022)
Studio(s)Cannon Films (Kino Lorber/Code Red)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: D
Maid in Sweden is a prime example of the softcore exploitation films that proliferated in the Seventies after the dissolution of the Production Code during the Sixties. The new MPAA ratings system allowed for more freedom, although it did complicate distribution and marketing for these kinds of films. Of course, censorship overseas had started relaxing far earlier than it did stateside, so unsurprisingly, Europe ended up providing a fertile source for distributors looking to make a quick buck. One such distributor was The Cannon Group, which made tidy profits by distributing English-dubbed version of Swedish films like Joe Sarno’s Inga. They also co-produced some titles that were actually shot in English, even though they were still produced in Sweden. Maid in Sweden falls into that category.
Maid in Sweden was directed by Israeli filmmaker Dan Wolman, under the appropriately Swedish-sounding pseudonym Floch Johnson, with a primarily Swedish cast and crew. The storyline from Ronnie Friedland and George Norris is pretty boilerplate “innocent country girl visits the big city” stuff. Inga (Christina Lindberg, in her debut) leaves her isolated farm in order to visit her sister Greta (Monica Ekman) in Stockholm. Unbeknownst to the rest of their family, Greta is living in sin with her ne’er-do-well boyfriend Casten (Krister Ekman). Inga’s eyes will be opened in more ways than one, as she navigates the predatory men of the big city and experiences her own sexual awakening.
It’s actually pretty tame stuff by today’s standards, with the softcore grinding not looking any more extreme than the average current streaming show on HBO, Showtime, or Netflix. Ironically enough, for all of the mild sexual activity on display, the fact that Greta is living with her boyfriend outside of wedlock is treated like the real taboo that’s being broken here. That dates Maid in Sweden more than anything else in the film. The thing that should date it, but doesn’t, is the way that the story trades in sexual assault. The message seems to be, women are all asking for it, so just ignore the repeated “No!” long enough, and they’ll break down eventually and start enjoying it. The fact that modern streaming shows like Game of Thrones still trade in sexual assault proves that some things never change, even in the “Me Too” era. The only difference is that they’re less likely to show women “enjoying” it. Progress, I guess?
Cinematographer Hans Welin (aka Hasse Welin) shot Maid in Sweden on 35 mm film using spherical lenses, supposedly framed at 1.66:1 for its theatrical release, although it’s re-framed at 1.78:1 here. This Kino Lorber/Code Red disc reportedly uses a “brand new 2K master,” but that compromised 1.78:1 home video aspect ratio does make it seem like it’s an older master, or at least an older scan that’s been reworked recently. In any event, there’s no indication of the elements that were used, but they’re dupe elements of some kind. The source has persistent damage throughout, with frequent scratches, speckling, and larger blemishes. There are a few more heavily damaged sections, like during a shot starting at 22:50. On the other hand, the fact that the damage hasn’t been cleaned up means that the natural grain is intact, and the level of fine detail is adequate, although the source limitations do mean that sometimes the shadow detail shows a bit of crush. The colors all look natural, with accurate flesh tones—it’s possible that they’re just a touch faded, but with no frame of reference to judge that fairly, they still look quite good here.
Audio is offered in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English SDH subtitles. Despite being an American-Swedish co-production, the bulk of the film does indeed appear to have been shot in English. However, Lindberg’s dialogue still sounds post-synced—she must have been speaking English on set, because it matches her lip movements, but her dialogue was still dubbed in later. As a result, her voice (or whoever dubbed her) doesn’t blend in well spatially with the dialogue from the other actors that was recorded on set. It’s all still perfectly clear, without much in the way of noise or distortion, and the various music tracks repeated throughout the film have a moderate amount of low end thanks to some “groovy” lines from the bass guitars.
Aside from a few trailers, there aren’t any real extras included on the disc. Note that all of these trailers are grouped together under a single menu item, so they can’t be selected individually, but they are chapter-encoded and can be skipped through:
- Maid in Sweden Trailer (HD – 2:32)
- Dagmar’s Hot Pants, Inc. Trailer (HD – 2:07)
- Dirty O’Neil: The Love Life of a Cop Trailer (HD – 1:46)
- The Naked Ape Trailer (HD – 2:08)
- National Lampoon Goes to the Movies Trailer (SD – 1:29)
- Secrets of Sweet Sixteen Trailer (SD – 2:49)
- La Cage Aux Folles II Trailer (SD – 2:52)
- Guyana: Cult of the Damned Trailer (SD – 2:30)
- Divorce Bug (SD – 1:01)
- Don’t Play with Matches (SD – :31)
It’s an interesting collection of trailers—it starts out with an appropriate set of sexploitation films, but then it takes an unexpected left turn with La Cage Aux Folles II. The final two aren’t actually trailers at all, but are instead animated television public service announcements. Not sure why they were included here, but they do provide a touch of nostalgia for the period in which Maid in Sweden was originally produced. In any event, the lack of extras here probably won’t be a sticking point for fans of Christina Lindberg, who will definitely want to pick up this disc regardless. It’s a slice of a very different kind of cinematic life than what we have in the streaming era.
- Stephen Bjork