Judge Christopher Kulik calls his blackmail photos "art pictures."
They were evil men who robbed her innocence. She posed for pictures that would make a shambles of her life…
In the early 1970s, one of the most famous sex starlets of the silver screen was none other than the celebrated Christina Lindberg. Not only did she pose nude for Playboy and Penthouse, she also garnered parts in a string of sexploitation films. Her career culminated in 1974's Thriller: A Cruel Picture, where she gave her best performance as a mute, eyeless sex slave who takes violent revenge against her boss. Once one lays eyes on her, it's almost impossible to recognize her supreme sexiness, and it's kind of a shame she was used more for her body than her acting talent. However, she (very smartly) used her fame as an advantage to get into singing and journalism, eventually doing what she always wanted to do; on that level, it's difficult not to respect her.
The 1971 Swedish film Exponerad (translated into English as Exposed) was the third film Lindberg made…and also the third she's been in that I've had the pleasure of reviewing for DVD Verdict. Not as good as Thriller, but not nearly as poor as her U.S. breakout hit Maid in Sweden, this extremely low-budget effort benefits from an intense story revolving around a conflicted girl. The major problem is the director's laziness in simply going from scene to scene with the initiative of a drunken turtle. As with all films in this genre, there is an ample amount of nudity and sex action and, as expected, many scenes are here for the sole reason of baring Lindberg's bodacious body. Fans of the starlet will surely want to add this film to their collection; others beware.
Lena Svensson (Lindberg) is a girl who tends to have provocative fantasies. One minute she will imagine herself being raped by a motorist while the next she sees an older man take a fancy to her even with his girlfriend witnessing the infatuation. She has a boyfriend named Jan (Bjorn Adelly) whom she loves very much, but somewhere along the way she finds herself seduced by sadistic brothel owner Helge (Heinz Hopf), who forces her to work for him. Lena is able to escape…but only after Helge takes a bunch of nude pictures of her, which he could obviously use as a form of blackmail so she would stay with him. Lena confesses to Jan what happened, and is determined to get those pictures at all costs…little realizing how far Helge will go toward keeping her forever.
The plot possibilities are endless. On one hand, you have blackmail, revenge, true love, and guilt as the themes thrown into this sordid mix of sex and violence. You have a lead character who has more depth than most exploitation writers would care to include. And, you have the opportunity to generate an intense atmosphere to at least give some legitimacy to the project. The cherry on top is Lindberg who boasts not only buxomness, but also a quiet innocence that is stunningly natural. She can be watchable—sans clothes or otherwise—even in the most ugly of circumstances, and Exposed was a perfect vehicle to showcase her qualities.
Despite these virtues, Exposed suffers from a serious case of lingering and camera reverie. Nearly every scene is played out to the point of pointlessness. A perfect example is an entire sequence (about six minutes in length) borrowed from a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie. In most cases, this type of inclusion would suggest a parallel scenario to follow, probably near the climax of the film. Instead, it simply makes us forget the characters and what Exposed is really all about! The hotel room scene between Lena and Jan is also worth noting in that we witness such unnecessary action as reading a paper, rolling over on a bed, and cooking ants (no joke!). Even Lindberg's power as mere eye candy gets tiresome after awhile, with a severe unpleasantness setting in before the final credits role. Genre fans may rate this higher, but I found it a difficult, labored watch that offers the viewer nothing more than an excessive amount of tedium.
Controversial when first released (it was banned in 37 countries), Synapse has given this film a surprising amount of affection on DVD. Presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, the print has been re-mastered and scrubbed of as much debris as possible. Grain is still evident in many cases, but the colors and black levels are both impressively sharp. Best of all are the flesh tones, with Lindberg practically glowing in several instances. Things on the audio side are only serviceable, with a Swedish mono track and newly translated English subtitles provided. Extras begin with a 17-minute featurette (entitled "Over-Exposed"…how original is that?), which was produced back in 2005 for the international market. Lindberg is interviewed along with co-producer Gustav Wiklund, with the latter discussing getting the film made and recruiting Lindberg to play the lead. The actress explained she approached filming with professionalism, treating as a serious film with good actors but a lot of flesh requirements. The Exposed clips give one a good idea as to how dirty the film was before Synapse cleaned it up, and magazines are also provided emphasizing Lindberg's modeling ventures. Overall, an excellent featurette with some shocking trivia tidbits (i.e. Wiklund met with Roger Corman and Peter Bogdanovich at different times during the film's initial theatrical run). Other bonus features include a photo gallery, two theatrical trailers (the original and US version), and two lovely music tracks featuring Lindberg singing.
The court hereby finds the film guilty of being mundane and drawn out.
However, Synapse is free to go for providing a fine DVD print and a satisfying
set of extras.
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