Director: Mac Ahlberg
Impulse Pictures

After making her mark on international sexploitation cinema with her work in Joseph Sarno’s VAMPIRE ECSTASY, BIBI, and BUTTERFLIES, Marie Forsa became Sweden’s next sex symbol and was beckoned to appear in more films by a variety of different exploiteers. She seemed most at home in her post-Sarno days with future Hollywood cinematographer Mac Ahlberg, who directed her in four films of widely varying quality. The most obscure of the quartet seems to be JUSTINE AND JULIETTE, a 1970s updating of the Marquis de Sade tale, and as experienced through this unusual disc from Impulse Pictures, it’s the weakest.

When they’re thrown out of their own home by their cruel aunt, orphans Justine and Juliette hitchhike to Stockholm to make a life of their own. While Juliette has no problem using her sexuality to find a luxurious hotel room, the chaste virginal Justine finds herself in a shabby boarding house which she is soon thrown out of after she spurns advances from the manager. After sitting through a hardcore stage show at the most popular nightclub in Stockholm, Black Night, Juliette is offered a position at a lucrative whorehouse, becoming an instant hit by pretending to be a virgin for each client. She runs into down-in-her-luck Justine on the street and gets her a job at Black Night, where Justine is suitably horrified at the hardcore performances and actually runs on-stage to stop the “rape” happening before a live audience! She soon meets Robert, a friend of her sister’s, who gently takes her virginity, steals her heart, and promptly tries turning her into a swinger, fooling her into sleeping with some of his friends!

As far as Swedish sex films go, JUSTINE AND JULIETTE is rather average. It features many cheeky comedy bits that are often funny, and Marie Forsa and her less-popular co-star Annie Bie Warburg (as ‘Juliette’) are gorgeous. However, most of the film is derivative of Sarno’s far superior BUTTERFLIES, as poor Forsa experiences much heartbreak and sexual debauchery, and parallels to the Marquis de Sade’s “Justine” soon fly out the window. Additionally, the film’s spot-and-go pacing makes the running time crawl at certain spots. The film’s major problem is that it works well as a comedy, but never as a sex film. Where Germany’s SCHOOLGIRL REPORT films could successfully combine laughs and eroticism, this presumed attempt to emulate that type of bawdy fun falls flat in the sexy department. All of the hardcore scenes are performed by extras, and mostly unenthusiastically, to boot. Even porn star Harry Reems only performs in one brief hardcore scene, in what is basically an extended cameo role as Don Walters, an American playboy with a bad heart frequenting the brothel. He would soon appear in Ahlberg’s BEL AMI, advertised as his farewell to adult films (he would soon return to the industry in 1982’s SOCIETY AFFAIRS). You may also recognize Lasse Braun’s muse, Brigitte Maier, as Robert’s wife performing hardcore in a homemade porno reel (and later in a fourth reel comic sex scene with Reems).

On the plus side, the photography is scrumptious, as director Mac Ahlberg had previously proven with surefire softcore hits like I, A WOMAN and FANNY HILL, and it’s no surprise he would soon graduate to lensing American exploitation (NOCTURNA, CHAINED HEAT, RE-ANIMATOR) and Hollywood films (STRIKING DISTANCE, THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE, BEVERLY HILLS COP 3). Forsa, still a sight to behold but definitely looking a tad more tired and less “fresh” than in her first group of films, appeared in her hardcore films (including this one) using the pseudonym “Maria Lynn”, though she never performed any graphically explicit scenes in any of these films. According to co-star Eric Edwards (and her official birthdate), Forsa was underage when she made several of her films, and advertised as such on her business card (!). She would only linger in the world of sexploitation for a brief time before retiring to the suburbs to raise a family. As far as this film goes, it’s only recommended viewing for Marie Forsa completists.

It’s strange that this film appears on DVD from the mysterious Impulse Pictures, as it was originally announced by Synapse Films with a bunch of other Swedish erotic films (none of which have appeared on DVD yet). The film was licensed from Klubb Super 8, a film club in possession of a number of general release prints who now claim international rights to said films (?). The best-looking sequences in the film are at Black Night, which look sharp and boldly colorful, and the scene of Justine and Robert watching his wife in a stag film, where her blue crushed velvet bathrobe is striking. The remainder of the film has much discoloration, with scenes either bathed in a blue, green, or red tone, though colors are generally well-rendered even in “tinted” scenes. Skin tones fluctuate from accurate to moldy, and print jumps and debris occur infrequently. The Swedish audio (with English subtitles) is strong and clear. Additional humor appears when a towering drag queen-look prostitute is dubbed by a man (!) and it’s strange to hear Harry Reems dubbed into Swedish (if you watch his scenes with Marie Forsa, it’s clear by their lip movements they are speaking in English).

No extras appear on the disc, not even a trailer (Klubb Super 8’s Swedish DVD at least features trailers for a number of Swedish sex films). (Casey Scott)