Sweatin’ to the Oldies: “Dr. Christina of Sweden” (1970)

In this feature, I navigate vintage pornography. It’s 6/9 and management is riding my ass, so what better time for the second installment? Today we have an American production filmed partly in France. To Western swine like myself, France is known for its artwork, elegance, fashion, and relaxed attitude toward nudity. Its “romance language” is seen as innately seductive and its people are said to be skilled lovers. It seems like a natural to cast them in sex films, especially when you’ve already flown there to make one. A natural to anyone besides the director, a favorite around here, whose every move baffles me. The incomparable Nick Millard!

“I must have been turning into a faggy, lesbian bull dyke, because I was certainly growing excited at the sight of the gorgeous, enormous tits.” Many profound things have been written and said throughout history. This tops them all. Let’s examine who says it and why.

A young blonde steps off a plane onto a tram, then pushes a cart through an airport. I feel like most of Millard’s movies start this way. “Dr. Christina of Sweden was the pretentious name under which I wrote sex articles for a Stockholm tabloid.” the blonde explains. “I was in Paris to do an article about the sex scene.”

Already the title has gone out the window. To me, it suggests the focus will be an insatiable Swedish physician. However, the unknown main actress never disrobes or joins in the “fun”, is likely American, and plays a newspaper columnist. The exteriors were shot on location in Paris, whereas all posteriors were filmed in the Bay Area. Confused? Me too! Uschi Digard (Supervixens, Kentucky Fried Movie) shows up at the end, but as we’ll find out, her connection to Europe’s fifth largest country is tenuous at best.

This exercise in dishonesty was filmed without sound. The only audio is jazzy stock music relieved by occasional first-person narration. I watched it online, though I’ve read the After Hours Retro DVD available from Alternative Cinema (Dot Com) contains a five-minute interview with Millard in which he reveals that Dr. Christina of Sweden was an aborted softcore feature he reworked to be hardcore. If Christina’s outfits are anything to go by, principle photography lasted two days. The bottom right corner of the image is watermarked with a Retro Seduction Cinema logo.

There are quick shots from a car of the Place de la Concorde, an 18th Century execution site home to magnificent twin fountains, an ancient Egyptian Obelisk, and a colonnaded, Roman-style temple. Christina proceeds to explore the French capital. There isn’t much of a story beyond that. Famous attractions, street markets, back alleys. They all leave her awestruck. At times, this feels like a tourism commercial, especially when Christina says “Stop whatever you’re doing and come to Paris right away. You won’t be sorry.” Interested in seeing what the City of Love was like fifty-odd years ago at the height of the sexual revolution? Millard has you covered. I wonder if he travelled to shoot these movies, or planned them around his vacations.

Credit: Encyclopaedia Britannica

During her stay, Christina witnesses three couples do it, in the process discovering she is a bisexual voyeur. Her first experience is by accident. The second she dreams about. The third she goes looking for. Since these sex scenes were filmed separately at a later date, Christina simply reacts to them and it’s edited to make it seem like she’s there.

“[Paris] was just as I’d imagined it to be. Colorful, vibrant, exciting!” Christina marvels while struggling to carry her suitcase past a cigarette stand. She appears on a balcony overlooking a busy street, stating she could have afforded a better hotel, but wanted to see the “real” Paris. The narrator sounds like Priscilla Alden (Criminally Insane), yet I can hear this in Nick Millard’s voice. He always spun his cost-cutting measures as basic filmmaking techniques employed the greats. The man rode a fine line between artistry and economy. His actors weren’t pretty? Neither were Roberto Rossellini’s. It’s called neorealism! He cast the same ones over and over? Well, so do repertory theatres! He basically only used one set (his house)? First of all, it’s a sound stage. And guess what? The major studios do that as well!

“This place was absolutely charming.” Christina continues. “It filled me with a delight that I hadn’t known in many, many months.” Two people stack cans in front of a restaurant. An old woman wrings out a rag. Discarded plastic blocks a storm drain. The camera zooms into a patch of road that’s been torn up for repair. Charming indeed. A regular Xanadu. Every blemish, every imperfection, impresses Christina. Watching her is like watching myself watch a Z-movie. Do shiny objects catch her eye too? I’ll admit, she has an infectious joie de vivre. I kinda wanna go here now. Oh god, it’s folie à deux! Double reverse Paris Syndrome! A theatre marquee advertises, among other films, Luis Buñuel’s Tristana, which I pulled up on Tubi to expand my knowledge of world cinema.

“I breathed the air of kings.” Christina exclaims. “Please bear with me, as I tend to lean toward the melodramatic.”

Again, I can hear this in Nick Millard’s voice. He constantly romanticized France. At sixteen, he dropped out of high school and got a job at the Stage Door Theater. “[It] was my new classroom.” he wrote on Facebook. “And no kid ever had a better one. This was the beginning of a sophisticated, cultured, daring Nick Millard. I saw a French film entitled And God Created Woman starring the magnificent Brigitte Bardot. The scene took place in St. Tropez. Bardot was lying naked in a garden, her exquisite derriere in full view. That is the day I fell in love with France, the Côte d’Azur, French red wine, and most of all, Bardot.”

But destiny had different plans for Millard. He found real love with a German named Irmgard who shared his passion for movies. They married in May of 1966 and spent their honeymoon at the Cannes Film Festival. Later, they purchased a home in the village of Mandelieu, where they made friends with an ex-Nazi who’d faked his death because he too was enthralled by France (!).

Millard’s favorite part may have been how the women sunbathed without their bikini tops. He was a horndog who credited Irmgard with keeping him on the straight and narrow. He also wrote that he wanted his ashes scattered at the Folies Bergère and Crazy Horse Saloon, the latter because they had the best strippers. He even went so far as to say that everything else besides France was boring.

After ambling around a bit more, Christina tells us she was given the names of two college students to interview. They’re not important people or experts on anything. Why her employer has their contact information is unclear. She might as well pick a random couple off the street. What do you think she’s going to ask them about? The preconceptions I listed above? Their passionate style of kissing or fondness for urine-soaked bread? Au contraire, mon frere! She wants their opinions on “free love, promiscuity, pussy… Stock questions that would no doubt render stock answers.” She flew a thousand miles to conduct this interview, and that’s the best she came up with? Some journalist!

When Christina finds the apartment, the front door is ajar and the couple is fooling around on their couch. Christina decides to spare them the embarrassment of interrupting and watches their entire twelve-and-a-half-minute encounter from the doorway. This laissez-faire approach awakens her inner scopophiliac. The woman is wearing blue stockings, a garter belt, and a horse riding cap. Her partner is naked except for his glasses. The woman drags her boobs across his squishy penis.

Credit: The Simpsons, Disney

The man uses one hand to fumble around the woman’s externals and his other to jab fingers inside her. He leans in close like a scientist examining a rare specimen. I don’t think he knows what he’s doing. Aren’t Parisians supposed to be great in the sack?

“Hot, moist, demanding pussy fulfilled by hard, young manhood.” Christina commentates. Whose dick is she looking at? This drugged-out hippie has yet to enter a state of tumescence, let alone a vagina. The exhibitionists 69 for a while. “So imaginative!” Christina remarks as the woman bites the tip of the man’s penis. That’s one word for it! “La bite” is actually a French term for “penis”. Something was lost in translation! As soon as Monsieur Flaccid is ready, he sits with his head draped over the back of the couch and his partner mounts him. He never moves again. Time of death: 16:50.

“Better to make love than to kill and maim on a battlefield.” Christina muses. I agree, but I’m not sure where that came from. Oh, wait, this was 1970. Vietnam was still heavy on everyone’s mind. End the war before it ends you!

Christina is shown sitting down taking notes. I thought she’d made herself at home and was disappointed to hear she was at her hotel. She heads back outside for more sightseeing. A leisurely stroll down a famous street called the Boulevard Saint Michel leads her to the Eiffel Tower. She later visits the Arc de Triomphe. Ten to twenty kids ride atop a car and are pulled behind it on skateboards. Christina walks through a fountain. She tops off her morning by eating an ice cream cone along the Seine. She strikes up a conversation with a local Maoist on the cement banks of the river. Christina tells us the Maoist is a fan of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (which I also watched) and wishes to recreate the ending by setting off an explosion. She flirts with him, smiling and playfully squeezing his cheeks. As she walks away up the steps, though, her attitude changes. “Goodbye, freak!” she says tauntingly, satisfaction gripping her voice. “No pussy for you today! Not with those weird ideas. You’re probably too sick to enjoy it anyway.”

Such wanton destruction. I nearly spit out my drink. 9-1-1? Yes, I’d like to report a murder. What did the poor guy do to deserve this? I doubt Millard told him what would be said. I choose to believe he was nothing but kind and respectful, humbly bragged about the small role to his family and friends, unaware of the fact that he’s actually in a porno, eventually saw it by chance, and went “Hey, that’s me!… Aww, sonuva bitch!” That’s assuming he found Christina attractive. He could have been gay, or just not that into her.

Afterward, Christina wanders around some more, saying she wants to get wasted and celebrate life. It skips that part, cutting straight to her lying in bed. “I’d drunk perhaps a bit too much wine.” she explains, cueing the second sex scene. “I was having rather bizarre dreams. Dreams of a lesbian nature.” We saw this plot contrivance in Fräulein Leather. You’ll notice the same actresses, props, and sex toys as well.

Two women in leather boots are going at. Their burning desire is symbolized by what looks like a fire on a beach. The submissive one, Suzanne, plays with herself while the dominant one, Alida, licks her footwear. Alida then fingers, tongues, and nipples Suzanne’s cooter, spreading her ass for the camera can see. Millard captures every glistening detail. Alida has on the black, zippered underwear worn by the man in Wendy’s Naughty Night, Mac-10, and Dracula in Vegas. Channeling the awesome power of the unisex panties, she tickles Suzanne’s asshole with a feather.

Is it true that French women don’t use deodorant? If so, between their BO and secretions, the smell in this room must be crazy. Through his writing, Millard refers to the women as sinful, subhuman creatures. As a Catholic, were these his beliefs? No, I think he was trying to make the scene hotter and more provocative by portraying same-sex, uhh, sex, as wrong. Forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, they say. Alida is now wearing a strap-on. She and her partner gyrate against each other in slow-motion. This scene lasts forever. Highlight: Suzanne treats Alida’s nipple like a radio dial.

The next morning, it rains, limiting what Christina can do. She writes under an awning at a sidewalk cafe, drinking coffee, watching women walking by. After making prolonged eye contact with a giant bust of an African man, she enters a nightclub of sorts where Uschi Digard and a blonde wearing a headband are performing a stage act on a set resembling a living room that was likely just a living room. Christina seats herself at a table and watches. Digard’s titanic naturals swing low like sweet chariots coming for to carry me home. According to Boobpedia, which I take to be an extremely reputable source of information, her bra size is 44F.

“I can tell you about the first time I ever saw her, because I will never forget it.” Millard told Search My Trash, circa 2012. “It was in March of 1970, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California (very close to Beverly Hills). One word can describe Uschi — magnificent. I had never seen anything like her breasts in my life (and I was raised around a burlesque theater, the Moulin Rouge theatre in Oakland, California). She also had a very pretty face and a nice derriere. She was from Switzerland, she spoke German with Irmi… sometimes they write that she was from Sweden, perhaps they are thinking of Anita Ekberg.”

Christina echoes Millard’s sentiments. “What a pair of tits. This voluptuous darling possessed the Taj Mahal of bosoms.”

Digard’s Wikipedia page includes a quote that starts “I was born in Saltsjö-Duvnäs, a little town outside Stockholm, Sweden, and am of Swedish/Swiss heritage.” attributed to “The Big Book of Breasts”, which sounds like another legit publication. It probably comes from a nudie mag. The bios in those are often fabricated.

During a rare interview given to Ashley West of the Rialto Report, Digard clarified that she’s Swiss, is of French heritage, and spent three years in Sweden as an adult. Her story is quite fascinating — she had a strict, religious upbringing/education, became multilingual to read foreign books, and travelled the world for years before landing in California.

Hold on, there’s a little more plot left. The performers make out with and tease each other. Digard pretends to finger bang Headband. Headband pretends to eat Digard’s ass. Digard repeatedly smashes a boob into Headband’s vulva, then presses just her nipple against Headband’s roast beef. They faux-finger bang a bit more. Finally, Digard pretends to eat Headband out. This scene is the least explicit of the three and in my opinion shouldn’t have been last. I get why it was, though. Digard is the closest Millard ever came to having a star. Most sources claim she did softcore exclusively. While she and Headband show quite a bit of restraint here, they do still fondle each other’s va-genitals. At what point that’s hard is up for debate, I suppose. Or should I say up for da bates?

Credit: Quickmeme.com

Christina goes window-shopping for shoes. She walks toward a venue called Lido. Fin. Huh. Ok. Overall, today’s pick is fine, a 2 or 3 out of 5 because so little happens. I’m surprised I was able to crank one out… a review, sicko! The title, premise, and narration provide a few laughs, and the footage of Paris is mildly interesting. Millard’s immense admiration shines through, making me keen to visit someday. Without sound or enthusiasm, the American sex is the least exciting part, supporting Millard’s position that everything else besides France is boring.

I’m setting a “featured image” for this post in hopes of preventing the screenshots below from displaying in the reader 🤞 Again, they’re for purely educational purposes! Enjoying them is a violation of our terms and conditions!

Next time on Sweatin’ to the Oldies: an actual French movie with French performers. Perhaps the most insane porno I’ve seen! Au revoir! Continue reading

“The Urge to Kill” (1989)

Reblogging this because I don’t think anyone saw it the first time. There is something of a non-update: I bring up a planned DVD release by Mondo Macabro that never materialized and subsequent French release by Uncut Movies. I messaged Mondo Macabro about this prior to publication and founder Pete Tombs responded, saying “I put them in touch with the rights owner. I believe there is an HD version.”

The Devil's DVD Bin

I read about today’s movie on Seven Doors of Cinema. She made it sound weird and obscure enough to bump up my watch list. Within a few minutes of turning it on, I knew it deserved an in-depth review. Join me as I take a look.

Directed By
Derek Ford

Version Reviewed

Total Runtime
1 hour, 21 minutes, 43 seconds

A catchy synth-pop song plays over the credits, warning us of a woman who’s “in control” and has “the urge to kill”. There’s a time code in the upper left corner and blurred-out watermark for RTV Video in the lower left. The camera pans over some instruments in a recording studio. A big-breasted blonde (Sally Anne Balaam) is tapping her foot to the beat. She bumps into a set of wind chimes and ducks behind a box. Sitting at the controls is playboy music producer…

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Venus Revisited

As promised, here’s a quick rundown of Mondo Macabro’s “Limited Edition” Blu-ray release of Dr. Caligari. It comes in a cool, double-sided slipcover, has a booklet containing an essay titled Going on a Radiation Vacation by Heather Drain, and two discs, playable in all regions, one being “4k Ultra-HD”. The restored picture is stunning, revealing surprising new details. I feel like David Hemmings in Blow-Up, spotting the gunman, then corpse. Between its impeccable image quality and the timelessness of its costumes and hairdos, this “surrealist neo-noir reworking of the 1920 German expressionist classic” maintains a modern look. I’d believe any release year they slapped on it.

Extra features include commentary by writer/director/production designer/art director Stephen Sayadian, interviews with Sayadian, co-writer Jerry Stahl, antagonist Madeleine Reynal, and star Laura Albert (screen-recorded via VideoLink), a trailer, and optional English subtitles. The interviews combined are as long as the movie. Stahl’s is the shortest at 9:43. I would have listened to him talk for an hour. Although I’d already pieced together most of the movie’s production from previous interviews, these extras offer quite a few revelations. Overall, this release is a massive upgrade from my old DVD and was worth the price of admission. Below are twenty things I learned or didn’t notice before. For a summary of the plot, please refer to my long-winded review.

Credit: Mondo Macabro/Vimeo

1) The opening shot was the final one filmed. We can now clearly see that Caligari’s asylum is several distinct buildings.

2) The slogan “better living thru chemistry” was taken from the DuPont chemical company.

3) Stahl seems to say in his interview that he wasn’t consciously referencing or commenting on anything with his dialogue. “When you grow up in America on TV, when your parents are basically the TV, you just absorb these things on a cellular level, and when you write, sometimes to your own surprise, they come back out… Caligari, in some way, in a very specific way now that I look at it, mirrored what was happening societally at the time when psycho-pharmaceutical solutions to mental and emotional problems began to dominate.”

4) Madeleine Reynal (the title character) was a blonde, Argentinian print model with little acting experience, chosen for her body language. I assumed she was doing a bad German accent, but that’s just the way she speaks.

5) The glue used to apply her fake eyebrows left her eyes red and irritated. Sayadian took one look and remarked “I love it!”

6) Laura Albert was chosen for the part of Mrs. Van Houten because she was the only actress who didn’t mention how weird the script was.

7) The woman who appears to Van Houten in her TV is also Laura Albert. Their interaction is an homage to Videdrome.

8) The dialogue coming from the TV is hard to make out because it’s distorted. The fine folks at Mondo Macabro have transcribed it for this release. It reads:

I know you’re watching me. I feel your eyes like wet fingers touching me in special places. I’m so moist I can’t stop. I’m feeling so… so open. Do you know what shame is? When you feel your sex like a live thing doing its own bad, little dance? Expose me, Mr. Gone Gone. Make me squirm like your eyeballs in their sockets. And do you really know I’m juicy bad? Wanna wanna watch? You wanna watch me shimmy? I’ve got a shimmy button really low down. Take me, daddy, please. I am a tongue bomb. I am life on Venus. I know how to make it sizzle. Pleasure will short your circuits. I could leave you an erotic husk. Am I your sex dream, or maybe a whole new me?

9) The baby mask worn by Van Houten’s intruder was modeled after a particular type of doll called a “Kewpie”.

10) The second Van Houten shown from the breasts down observing herself being raped was played by Michelle Bauer, making her third consecutive appearance for Stephen Sayadian.

Credit: The Simpsons, Disney

11) The crutches supporting the breasts of the patient at 18 minutes are referencing Salvador Dali, who often put them in his paintings.

12) Fox Harris (Dr. Avol) was terminally ill during shooting. Though he didn’t share this, he urged Sayadian to pick up the pace.

13) Avol was named after Beverly Hills neurosurgeon Milton Avol, a convicted slumlord Sayadian read about in the L.A. Times, which gave Dr. Caligari a favorable review.

14) The term “Charlie chokes”, meaning artichokes, came from a patient Sayadian worked with at a mental hospital.

15) The entire movie was storyboarded by an artist named H.R. Gerard, “almost like a graphic novel”. Gerard also storyboarded Evilspeak (1981), starring Clint Howard.

16) The large-headed crying woman who appears in this, the music video for Wall of Voodoo’s “Do it Again”, and Untamed Cowgirls of the Wild West Part 2: Jammy Glands From the Rio Grande was meant to resemble Margaret Keane’s subjects.

17) The topless human lamp seen for a few seconds from 1:00:08 to 1:02:20 is porn actress Nina DePonca, credited as “Vera Butler”. Sayadian erroneously identifies her as “Nina Ponchilla”.

18) Cannibal Gus Pratt quotes two different presidents. “A thousand points of light” was a phrase used by George Bush Sr. “Where is the rest of me?” is screamed by Ronald Reagan in Kings Row (1942).

19) Pratt’s soliloquy toward the end was recycled from the unproduced script for Hormone Alley.

20) Hollywood legend Lawrence Tierney once asked for a sexy movie to watch while spending the night at horror director Jeff Burr’s home. Burr, perhaps jokingly, handed him a VHS copy of Dr. Caligari. The next morning, Tierney said something to the effect of “Nobody in the world could jerk off to that!” Sayadian heard this and took it as a compliment.