Judge Daryl Loomis is impressed with the Swedish ability to stand around naked while in Sweden.
The submission! The proposition! The threat!
Joe Sarno (Laura's Toys) isn't a name that gets thrown around very much these days; I don't really know if it ever did. But in those wild and woolly days of grindhouse filmmaking, he was the classiest director on the block, taking the charm and decidedly non-American comfort with nudity and bringing to his native shores. Inga was Sarno's early masterpiece; whether it, its sequel, or the other movie presented on Joe Sarno's Inga Collection is any good is the big question, but I'm just glad to see the all together on this three-disc set from Retro Seduction Cinema.
Facts of the Case
The Seduction of Inga
The Indelicate Balance
The three movies in Joe Sarno's Inga Collection represent some of the best work of the director's career. He has films with a whole lot more sex in them, sure, but these three movies, his two most famous and one nearly lost, are definitely the strongest that I've seen out of the multitude of movies he made. Now, I suppose that touting the "best" of Joe Sarno won't ring as that exciting for a lot of people, but aficionados of softcore cinema aren't really going to find better.
At the time, Sweden had captured America's imagination with their looser attitudes toward nudity and sex. The release of I Am Curious (Yellow) gave American audiences a much more natural and organic look at sexuality that they weren't getting from the nudist volleyball players that they would skulk into the grindhouse to see. Sarno took advantage of this fascination better than anybody and, though many certainly made more money at it than he did, he was called the "Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street" for a reason.
Sarno was much more concerned with faces and situations than he was with gyrating bodies and this really is no better displayed than in Inga. Marie Liljedahl is absolutely stunning in the title role and, though her talents were somewhat marginal and she didn't last very long in the business, her youthful charm and beauty make the star more than memorable. The story is a quiet family tale with some sex thrown in. It doesn't make a ton of sense, and Aunt Greta trying to pimp out her niece to some guy is pretty creepy, but it remains an innocent piece of entertainment. Also of interest, the theme song for this film and, unfortunately, the next one, is one of the earliest recordings by the band who would be ABBA. If you like ABBA, maybe this will thrill you; I have no way to judge what sounds basically like murder to me.
The Seduction of Inga doesn't dwell on what happened to the title character, she just tells us in narration that she's older now and wants her old love back. It takes Inga out of the country and into the city for another set of frisky adventures. This one is far less interesting than the original. There is a little more sex than Inga, but neither the camerawork nor acting are close to as good. Liljedahl shows a little more talent, but this was also her final film and it's easy to tell that her heart really wasn't in it.
The real seller is the third film, The Indelicate Balance, a thought lost, never really screened, piece of Sarno's filmography. Like Inga, it was filmed in Sweden with almost all rookies on the screen and produced a strange and fairly enjoyable film. Nobody in the cast has much other work and, while there's an MPAA rating and a copyright on the print, there's no evidence that the film was ever actually screened. It's quite a bit better than most of his work and features public domain recordings of concertos by Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, giving the film a very ominous feel that is totally entertaining. It's a real lesson on the power of music in cinema.
Retro Seduction's three DVD presentation of Joe Sarno's Inga Collection is about as good as one could hope for a trio of softcore films. The prints, all 1.33:1 transfers, haven't received careful restorations, but they all, or at least the two that had been previously released, look better than they did before. There is some damage to the prints, more with The Indelicate Balance than the other two, but they are all acceptable. The sound is similar, with a minimum of background noise and fairly clear dialog, but they're basic mono mixes without anything dynamic about them.
The extras are very strong, and will be what sells the collection to fans. Technically, The Indelicate Balance is listed as an extra, but that's really only because it has nothing to do with the Inga character. It, along with Inga feature commentary tracks, Inga with Sarno and his longtime wife and collaborator, Peggy Steffans-Sarno and The Indelicate Balance with Steffans-Sarno and historian Gary Hudgens. Both are very good; they have great memories for these films. The Inga disc also features an interview with Lilijedahl and a collection of outtakes and trailers. The Seduction of Inga features a solid twenty minute featurette, an interview, and another cut of that damned Abba song. Aside from the commentary track, the only extra on the final disc is an alternate cut of The Seduction of Inga featuring extra sex.
Joe Sarno's Inga Collection is a very good set, one that will please any fan of the softcore genre. They are some of the most nicely filmed in the history of the style. With the wealth of extras, this is definitely one for the collection.
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Scales of Justice, Inga
Perp Profile, Inga
Studio: Alternative Cinema
Distinguishing Marks, Inga
Scales of Justice, The Indelicate Balance
Perp Profile, The Indelicate Balance
Studio: Alternative Cinema
Distinguishing Marks, The Indelicate Balance
Scales of Justice, The Seduction Of Inga
Perp Profile, The Seduction Of Inga
Studio: Alternative Cinema
Distinguishing Marks, The Seduction Of Inga
• Alternate Cut
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