WIDE OPEN (1975)
Director: Gustav Wiklund
Impulse Pictures

Upon seeing the returns international distributors were making off of his first film, Exponerad (aka EXPOSED) director Gustav Wiklund decided to return to the well of Swedish softcore in hopes of a repeat performance that would ideally line his own pockets with green. While admittedly uninspired by the prospect of working in porn again, Gustav was wise enough to recognize that EXPOSED success was derived in most part by its sexual elements and its lead actress, Christina Lindberg. So naturally when filming WIDE OPEN Gustav did not stray too far away from what he already knew would draw an audience. After all, why try to fix something that isn't broken. The end result, while nowhere near as entertaining as EXPOSED, does feature a small handful of choice scenes that any self respecting fan of the beguiling Ms. Lindberg will no doubt want to add to their collection.

Taxi driver Paul (Kent-Arne Dahlgren) is an asshole and anyone who has ever met him would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. So how he managed to shack up with the voluptuous and relatively mild mannered Marianne (Solveig Andersson, THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE) is anyone’s guess. After finding his father (Åke Fridell, THE SEVENTH SEAL) stumbling around a race track drunk, Paul gives his old man a lift back to his place where Marianne has been patiently awaiting his return, sans clothes. After being manhandled by Paul’s disorderly father, Marianne agrees to let Paul’s pop sleep it off at their place as long as he escorts her to a showing of her sister's new film. Paul reluctantly follows suit but finding little enjoyment with Marianne’s art house crowd, excuses himself half way through the film to go bang some random blonde in the coat room. After the film, Marianne walks in on Paul mid-coitus but rather than scold him for his behavior she invites her sister, Beryl (Gunilla Larsson) to stay at her already crowded apartment.

The next day Marianne's schedule takes her out of town, leaving Beryl to put up with Paul and wander the streets looking for work. While driving, Beryl picks up Eva (Christina Lindberg), a nude model who suggests that she accompany her to a photo shoot. After watching Eva lather up her nude body in soap -- a scene which is far too short -- Beryl decides to strip down and pose for some pictures of her own. Beryl’s photos make the rounds pretty quickly, and in no time at all she finds herself propositioned for a live modeling performance. Offered more money than she has seen in a lifetime, Beryl agrees to the job and decides to celebrate that night with Paul, Eva and Eva’s douche bag of a boyfriend. After a little swinging action, which finds the infuriatingly lucky S.O.B. Paul making out with Eva on her boyfriend's couch, Beryl finds herself locked out of the party while on a cigarette run. While trying to buzz herself back into Eva’s apartment building, Beryl is picked up by the mysterious Mr. X (Jan-Olof Rydqvist, ANITA) who offers to let the shivering girl stay at his place for the night. Not being the brightest crayon in the box, Beryl agrees but before she can tuck herself in for the night she finds herself chased around the room by her portly host with a whip. Escaping from Mr. X’s abode, Beryl grabs a fur coat on the way out the door that, unbeknownst to her, is lined with narcotics. Eager to get back what is his, Mr. X sends his henchmen (Tor Isedal, THE VIRGIN SPRING) after Beryl only to have the young girl walk right back into his life in the form of hired entertainment.

As Swedish sexploitation pictures go, WIDE OPEN is rather tedious and unnecessarily convoluted. The plot bares no clear path and the majority of its characters come across as pretentious, passive aggressive pricks. That said, it is filled with nudity. A lot of nudity. Let's be honest, if you are browsing titles online and you come across WIDE OPEN, the likelihood that you are going place it in your cart because of its synopsis is relatively low. The only reason even sexploitation devotees would give this title a second glance is because Christina is on the cover, naked. It is the very presence of Christina that was, and still is the film's sole selling point. Sadly Christina's screen time, both fully dressed and unclothed, is minimal, particularly when compared to the screen time of her more homely co-star Gunilla Larsson. Still, her scenes alone are worth the price of admission. Truth be told, Solveig Andersson could give Christina a run for her money, but it’s the scenes in which Christina is the focal point, such as the aforementioned photo shoot and one in which Christina vacuums naked for no discernable reason, that will no doubt stand out in the viewer's mind.

Previously released on DVD in Sweden by Klubb Super 8, WIDE OPEN makes its American debut via Impulse Pictures. Presented in anamorphic (1.66:1) widescreen, the film's transfer suffers from sporadic debris and its color palette tends to lean green as the story progresses but all in all the presentation is more than serviceable. The English dubbed Mono track has its hissy moments but it gets the job done. Extras include a video interview (19:44) with Christina Lindberg and director Gustav Wiklund that gives quite a bit of insight into the movie's history and shortcomings, most notably the reason Christina isn't more prominently featured in it; they couldn’t afford her. After EXPOSED, Christina became an international hit, leading to offers for her to star in films away from her homeland of Sweden. Traveling to Japan where she filmed Noribumi Suzuki’s SEX AND FURY and Sadao Nakajima’s Poruno no joô: Nippon sex ryokô (THE PORNSTAR TRAVELS AROUND JAPAN), Christina found her "talents" could draw a much larger paycheck than previously realized. As a result, Gustav found that his star's new day rate had escalated to the point that he could only afford to hire her for a couple of days. Special features are fleshed out with a (mostly nude) photo gallery of Christina as well as trailers for FLOSSIE, ANITA, EXPOSED and JUSTINE AND JULIETTE. Also of note is the disc’s cover art which is reversible and showcases quite a sensual topless photo of Christina! (Jason McElreath)