ANITA (1973)
Director: Torgny Wickman
Impulse Pictures (Synapse Films)

Continuing to release European exploitation films through Synapse Films, Impulse Pictures, responsible for the lackluster disc of the Marie Forsa vehicle JUSTINE AND JULIETTE earlier this year, has dipped their toes into Christina Lindberg’s filmography for their next Swedish release. The buxom sex siren, with the face of an innocent and a busty bombshell figure, is without a doubt my personal favorite Scandinavian starlet (though her predecessor, Marie Liljedahl, runs a close second), and in ANITA, one of her lesser-known outings, she gets to further prove her impressive acting chops. With an early leading role by future Hollywood character actor Stellan Skarsgard and an accomplished, surprisingly sensitive script, ANITA proves to be a hidden gem of Swedish sexploitation cinema and actually rises above the generic restraints of the genre, easily passing as an arthouse import. Unfortunately Impulse’s presentation of the film leaves much to be desired.

Anita is a 17-year-old high school girl, your average teenage girl with a father in the military, a prim and proper mother, and a younger sister easily mistaken as her twin. But Anita hides a dark secret: she picks up strangers off the street for blowjobs and sex. Why? Just because. She feels no love for any of her tricks, and can’t stand seeing any man for a second time. Her reputation around town takes a nosedive, as she is ridiculed by the men who have had her and loathed by the women who see her as a threat. After a particularly grimy experience with an older gentleman, Anita is taken in by Erik, an intelligent student who is fascinated by her affliction, but refuses to take advantage of it. The two form a special bond, as Erik is the only person in her life she can trust and confide in, but before he can take their friendship to the next level, his research on the subject reveals that nymphomaniacs can quench their lust permanently by having an orgasm. Naturally, Anita sets out to cure her cravings by any means necessary, including experimenting with lesbianism and working at a gentleman’s club!

If you go into ANITA expecting a fast-paced, sex-packed skinflick crowd pleaser, you will be sorely disappointed. And who could blame you? With an eye-catching DVD cover and the star power of Christina Lindberg, known for such outrageous works as THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE and THE DEPRAVED, ANITA should by all counts share those films’ exploitive nature. But after a typical opening with La Lindberg having sex with two complete strangers, the film settles into a deliberate pace, focusing on character psychology and the relationship Anita shares with Erik. This is still an exploitation film, so Christina Lindberg disrobes quite frequently, and looks at her best, but the sex (including a lesbian scene) is minimal and quite unerotic (reportedly a XXX version with inserts was also available at one time). So why bother with ANITA? It’s because of the script’s mature treatment of both the couple and Anita’s nymphomania that ANITA really delivers, and provides further proof that Christina Lindberg was actually a pretty exceptional actress. Fans can see that she’s something special in DEPRAVED and THRILLER, two films wherein she has little or no dialogue but still is able to convey such great emotion with her facial expressions, and in ANITA, she tackles another complex character and delivers perhaps her very finest performance. It’s sad to think that after this film, she would basically be relegated to window dressing in films like SWEDISH WILDCATS and AROUND THE WORLD WITH FANNY HILL before retiring to a quiet life in Sweden.

Perhaps one of the reasons why she is so good here is because she has an equally talented co-star: Stellan Skarsgard, who has made quite a name for himself as a character actor in the U.S. in the past decade or so. Looking all of 20 here, his sympathetic portrayal of Erik is a great indicator of things to come. This all may sound like a real drag to fans of Lindberg and Swedish exploitation in general, but it’s always refreshing to see filmmakers working in the genre attempting to do something different and unique, and even better, succeeding! In this case, the man behind this pleasant surprise is Torgny Wickman, responsible for one of the best Swedish hardcore films, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, with American porn stars Kim Pope, Darby Lloyd Rains, and Eric Edwards, as well as a number of earlier sexploitation releases (his daughter plays Anita’s younger sister, and his wife acted as costume designer). Points must be taken off for the terrible theme song “A Girl Like Me” (co-written by Wickman), but at least it beautifully accents the film’s most memorable erotic moment: Lindberg disrupting a family party by performing a striptease for her father’s gawking business associates! Otherwise, ANITA easily stands out of the pack and comes highly recommended!

Taken yet again from a theatrical release print, Klubb Super 8’s transfer of ANITA is quite unsatisfying considering the quality of the feature itself. The 1.66:1 anamorphic image is plagued with a consistent shade of green, affecting skintones as well as the general color palette of the film, and black lines and print jumps don’t help matters. At least the image is bright and clear throughout the film, and it’s great to see the film in any way, but it’s a real shame that the original negative for the film wasn’t used here.

Equally disappointing is the complete lack of extras. Klubb Super 8’s Swedish discs feature trailers, stills galleries, and interviews with cast and crew (including Christina Lindberg). Could none of those be ported over to their U.S. versions?! (Casey Scott)