SEAT AT THE BACK - SCRIBBLES! ~ Films on the Seat at the Back playlist right now: KIDS IN LOVE; JUNE; CURVE; WILD, BARELY LETHAL; GODDESS OF LOVE; THE VATICAN TAPES .. What a night in!

Monday, 12 December 2011

FLOSSIE (1974) ~ Barefaced Swedish Cheek For All!

FLOSSIE (1974) ~ Barefaced Swedish Cheek For All! 
Stars~ Marie Forsa and Jack Frank 

Director~ Mac Ahlberg


'En svensk väl-lustig film med söta flickor och en härligt eggande handling!'

*Some plot spoilers may creep into the bed below - watch before reading*

Marie Forsa was a blond, blue-eyed Swedish sex starlet who captivated her native country and pretty much everywhere else back in the 70's by appearing in such saucy trash as: The Devil's Plaything; Butterflies; Justine and Juliette, and of course - Flossie. Most of her best films were for smart-smut master of suburban sauciness, director Joe Sarno, but in the case of Flossie, Forsa got down and dirty for the slightly lesser-masterful, but still deliciously smutty director, Mac Ahlberg.

Ahlberg really went on to better things as a cinematographer on films such as Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared Syn, Ghoulies, House, Re-Animator, DeepStar Six, Robot Jox and Puppet Master: The Legacy. I say better things... I guess that could be a subjective viewpoint, but at least some of the films that Ahlberg worked on as cinematographer became favourite trashy oddities for cult movie fans. As a boy watching Metalstorm in 3D, I was sold for life, and the really underrated and hugely enjoyable sci-fi monster-splashy thrills of DeepStar Six had a similar impact on my thirst for low budget monster movies that nobody else seemed to care about.   

While Ahlberg may not have had quite the same wild and wonderfully abandoned reputation as Sarno (who was known for filming sex from an orgasm's point of view, framed with a decent back story and plenty of social suburban realism in place for keeping even the most explicit coupling almost always - seemingly - entirely justified by context) he certainly helped give Forsa some of her finest hours and a few unfaked on-screen orgasms as well, by all accounts.

Joe Sarno's most famous trademark in his movies were the close-up shots of a face in the moment of ecstasy rather than the actual deed being done on screen (although that did get done as well).

Ahlberg kind of dwells on both for Flossie; on the face and the 'everything else' that he could get into shot. Although Flossie is mainly soft in its sexual antics, it's not entirely so - unusually for any movie of this kind, it's the male cast, primarily lead actor Jack Frank (a not especially charismatic man whose first movie role was as an extra in Joe Sarno's classic 1971 film The Seduction of Inga), that gets the most - and the rudest - exposure. Which isn't to say that Marie Forsa doesn't do her bit for Sweden here too, because she does.

The Seduction of Inga was itself a sequel to Sarno's far more renowned 1967 movie homage to female pleasure, simply called: 'Inga'. Flossie ends on a close-up of Forsa's face in a moment of absolute pleasure and it's hard not to see the similarities with Joe Sarno's less salacious Inga in this scene - a movie that saw an equally pouty and precocious young star, Marie Liljedahl, discover her sexuality under Sarno's roving voyeur of a lens. 'Inga' became a true classic of Swedish cinema, erotic or otherwise. It's no surprise that other directors - and stars - wished to capitalise on its success. The star of Flossie, Marie Forsa was undoubtedly looking for that same arty pouty innocent thrill and some of that warm, unrestrained sexuality that Liljedahl injected into all her movies so effortlessly.

Liljedahl retired from making movies at the start of the 70s (just before Forsa arrived on the scene) having clearly kept the naughty throne warm for young stars like Forsa to sit precociously on and keep the flames of passion burning back in the Swedish fjords.

Marie Forsa didn't get it all her own way at the start of the 70's. There was no freedom to be loved with the monogamy that Liljedahl had earned, and Forsa's endearing blonde hair and blue-eyed appeal had an equally appealing alternative in the sex siren stakes from a defiantly brown-eyed and dark-haired Swedish saucepot of even more ample proportions than either Forsa or Liljedahl could offer - her name; Christina Lindberg.

Lindberg's career ended up being more prolific for the time than either Forsa's or Liljedahl's and, in the UK, a good many of her sleaziest, sauciest movies have been let free on knee-trembling DVD shelves in recent years as part of the 'Swedish Erotica Collection' (in Volumes 1 & 2 no less). 
The UK has yet to get behind Forsa's furtive fumblings quite as eagerly as it has Lindberg's, who as an actress not only ran rampant through cult sexploitation movies as peekaboo-quirky as Maid in Sweden (1971) and Anita: The Shocking Diary of a Young Nymphomaniac (1973) but also kicked ass in far grittier fare - her starring role as the brutal but brilliantly eye-patched heroine in Thriller aka They Call Her One Eye (1974), is perhaps her greatest role of all, and territory recently revisited by Lindberg herself again in 2012's 'Thriller'-ish grindhouse cash-in; 'Cry For Revenge', that saw Lindberg take on the unflattering-sounding role of 'Old Candy'! Forsa's only comparable movie to the lurid likes of Lindberg's 'Thriller' is the 1973 horror movie, The Devil's Plaything - Joe Sarno's lusty vampire tale and Forsa's first major role.

Both Forsa and Lindberg were born of the 70's work ethic of free love and random joy. By the time the 1980's broke through in a bubble of big hair and brighter bras, Forsa had quit the movies having been reduced to roles as humbling as 'Girl in Aquarium' and 'Girl in Sauna' at the end of the decade that spawned her while Lindberg struggled into the 80's with just two roles - as an uncredited 'Mistress' and a credited, but no less humiliating, 'Stripper'.

Marie Forsa only starred in seven movies, the few others she appeared in were too fleeting to count. But these seven films are some of the most celebrated in sinful Swedish cinema and even if you haven't seen the movies themselves, the names, for any fan of cult movies the world over, probably sound familiar (even in the generally assumed to be sexually-repressed UK, certainly at the time the films were made): The Devil's Plaything (Joe Sarno/ 1973); Bibi - Confessions of a Sex Kitten (Joe Sarno/ 1974); Flossie (Mac Ahlberg/ 1974); Justine and Juliette (Mac Ahlberg/ 1975); Butterflies (Joe Sarno/ 1975); Bel Ami (Mac Ahlberg/ 1976) and Molly (Mac Ahlberg/ 1977).

FLOSSIE is certainly a classic of its kind, but probably not the best. It does take full advantage of the Swedish sense of wild abandonment and freedom to 'get it on' in all kinds of sometimes surprisingly languidly-paced X-rated scenarios liberally stuffed to the brink of acceptable decency with mostly-cheeky sex games (initiated by pouting girls wearing gossamer-thin babydoll nighties - yes; in the middle of the afternoon) and the seducing of posh older men with ease on the way home from that hotbed of unridled passion; the Swedish finishing school (hooray!). Which is just about the entire plot of Flossie.

You may need to remind yourself from time to time watching this movie that Sweden also gave us the wonderfully life-affirming, life-changing films of Ingmar Bergman. There, I've said it. I feel less dirty now. And maybe films such as Flossie are also life-affirming, in their own way. There, I've said it. Now I feel all dirty again.

Head, shoulders and high heels above all other nubile nymphomaniacs working in the Swedish sex film genre (ok, except perhaps for Christina Lindberg, but she had an unfair advantage over everyone else in that she could really act) was Flossie's young and effortlessly charismatic star; Marie Forsa, who is probably the only reason this film is still talked about - at all, today.

Forsa was just eighteen when she made Flossie but that doesn't mean much as hers was a career that wouldn't last much beyond the age of twenty. Just five years after Flossie and Marie Forsa appeared in her final film as 'Girl in Bathtub - Uncredited'. Yet what shines through most in such Swedish fare as Flossie and Molly and all those other single-named or saucily-titled Swedish smorgasbords of sex nonsense is that, clearly - everyone is having a lot of fun!

I don't know if they were supposed to be having fun, or even know for sure that they were - but Marie Forsa never stops smiling in Flossie. It could just be a Swedish thing. Though the stars of Bergman's films weren't always smiling, so maybe not. A certain type of Swedish film then.

Marie Forsa was a classy kind of sex kitten. Although in most of her movies, she was said to have 'gone all the way' with her co-stars, she also demanded that her 'going all the way' was never actually shown on camera. The viewer was left to imagine the bits you couldn't see. Knowing that Forsa could be getting jiggy for real certainly makes the sex films she appeared in more fun than a Carry On movie in terms of raised temperatures - unless Barbara Windsor really did do the dirty deed with Sid James. Hang on, I think she did. Not on screen though, surely.

In the film Bel Ami (released in the UK as 'For Men Only'), Forsa appeared alongside bona fide American adult movie star Harry (Deep Throat) Reems. The film was based on the novel by Guy De Maupassant (and filmed many times over the years, including, most recently, a 2012 update with Robert Pattinson and Christina Ricci) and both Forsa and Reems throughout the movie clearly do seem to be over-enjoying the opportunities the script provides for doing the deed for real and creating an entente cordiale in American/ Swedish relations for the sake of cinema. Off camera too, Forsa was said to have seduced some of the lucky crew on every film she worked on.

This recollection could of course be born of a publicity scam, fuelled by cruel rumour, be nothing other than idle tittle-tattle, or maybe just a touch of wishful thinking among some lonely crew member looking for some action. But the rumours persist to this day. And cast members talk of how the on-screen sizzle playing opposite Forsa lasted well beyond the point when the cameras were switched off. How cultivated this mysterious secret life was mostly calculated and created by Forsa herself, or by the filmmakers she worked with, we may never know.

So what of the film Flossie? Is it actually any good, or just better to talk trivia about? It's fair to say that most copies of this film over the years have been dire to dreadful, but Another World Entertainment have released the movie in a lovingly presented DVD set with a fun little booklet about the film's background included. The film only plays in the original Swedish audio, so unless you are multilingual, you'll have to guess or lip read what's being said, though mostly you would only need a mime artist to convey what's going on in this movie should you get lost.

It's a fairly clear and clean picture too that we get with the DVD (although, being picky, slightly washed-out and a bit yellowy too - but hey, these kind of movies were made for such an authentic rundown picture house, back row, second seat from left, sitting by yourself, kind of presentation!). The fun little booklet I mentioned - I better point out - is in Swedish too. Still, we can't have it all, and seeing as quite a few of Forsa's other movies have now been given the full remastered DVD with English audio or subbing treatment (though not yet in the UK), perhaps one day soon we will be lucky enough to get an English audio release of Flossie too and find out whether we missed anything important.

The plot of Flossie is based on the anonymous (and I don't blame him/her) Victorian novel of the same name, and the second time the story had been filmed. It's thought that Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne was the man behind the barely-there veil of anonymity.

Flossie comes fresh out of finishing school accompanied by her much older companion, the boring old Eva (well ok, not that boring when played by the pouty-lipped Kim Frank) and soon wriggles her wicked way into the arms and sofa (and eventually - bed) of the well-to-do Captain Jack Archer.

Captain Jack instantly seduces the poor girl the moment she moves in to his castle (the good Captain suddenly thinks being a rich, well-heeled castle-owning cad is a way to get lucky - and he is, of course, quite right). The Captain decides to help Flossie experience life to the full and set her on well-rounded career in law (last bit made up). But Flossie doesn't want to go all the way. Not just yet. By the end of the movie Captain Jack beds Flossie's older companion, Eva, who then waits around and watches while he proceeds to bed her younger ward in the film's literal climax. Well, that's what friends are for!

In-between all this rumpy-pumpy in the ramparts (filmed in Engholms Castle, Stockholm) both Flossie and Captain Jack tell each other rude stories. It's like tales around the campfire Swedish-style with brandy and cigars instead of marshmallows and sausages. Then again, there's quite a few sausages in Flossie too.

Flossie tells her story first: the time she romped with her best friend at finishing school and also nearly got it on with a local lad in the dorm when the girls played 'Lovemaking Russian Roulette' (again, this is Sweden remember, the country of free love and wandering hands, not bullets) with the blindfolded boy until he chooses - by touch - who he wants to sleep with. It turns out it's going to be Flossie. But just as he dives on to her bed to get going, she rolls off, and another girl takes her place. It's actually quite a funny and well-realised scene, and outshines some of the slightly more elongated (and frankly madam, a bit boring) lovemaking scenes back in the castle.

Captain Jack's turn next, and he tells Flossie about the time he got it together with three girls in a trippily-lit room in an odd nightclub while blindfolded (all the boys seem to end up blindfolded in this movie for some reason), only to find out - when the blindfold falls off - that a whole roomful of other guests at the club are watching him perform. If that doesn't make the poor chap need Viagra the rest of his life, I don't know what will. I think this film should have been retitled - 'That's What Friends Are For', because, from start to finish (and everyone gets to Finnish by the end even though they are all Swedish ..sorry, Scandinavian joke alert!) everyone seems to be helping each other to get it on with someone else as well as with themselves, in some way.

Marie Forsa oozes charisma and cuteness throughout the movie. She's achingly pretty (which helps) and relentlessly quirky; she hold the gaze of the camera lens like only a few actresses can. Some critics say she can't act. She's not a great actress. But she is a star. Swedish sex comedies will never get much critical acclaim anyway, however good they are - Forsa makes a slightly dull film (as, at times, Flossie can be) into something a bit delicious. And sometimes her acting does cut through the heart like a hot knife through already warmed butter, hooking us in with those bright blue, way too playful, 'full of secrets'-eyes that just sometimes, look sad. She flirts with the camera, the cast, us - anyone can join in. Probably, quite often, they did.
Forty years after her brief, giggly flutter in the spotlight and her relentlessly provocative flirtation with fame, Marie Forsa remains a name that still wants to be adored. But not a name than many have heard of. I don't think the real Marie Forsa was ever really known to anyone anyway all that much, or ever will be. Her career was one that enthralled with tales of on-set seduction, of a cool-headed girl having fun with an insatiable appetite for cast and crew as well as life. But how much of that is true - we may never know.

She was seemingly happy to have sex with co-stars in front of the camera even when not called on to do so, but then remain coy in what actually ended up in the finished movie - her contract was clear that no actual sex could ever be shown, yet it's obvious to all that she's doing it anyway, and the bits she didn't want shown, she allowed a stand-in to be used, making the contract as good as redundant. If nothing else, Marie Forsa surely was a one-off and the very definition of an enigma.

I don't think Flossie is a great movie, it's very quick to get to the naughty bits and doesn't dwell much on character development - I don't have to even watch this film in English to know that the script is bare naked basic. The film does has a certain amount of class running through it though and is played for fun. It flitters around with all kinds of different erotic scenarios and has a happy, unsmutty (believe it or not) charm that the Swedish adult movies of the time always seem to have. It's a time capsule movie then, one that hasn't rusted away over the years.

The film is heavy with eroticism. Even the name 'Flossie' sounds kind of suggestive, without knowing quite why. The DVD cover has an open-legged (hand-covering too much of a blatant reveal) Marie Forsa in her finishing school garb staring longingly at her friend Ylette (played by Forsa's regular co-star Anita Ericsson). It's one of the randiest covers around - and entirely appropriate!

The yellow tinge to this movie also somehow suggests frolics and fun and sunshiny free love - and it's what you get. I don't think I actually ever want any DVD distributor to clean up Flossie too much - it would clearly spoil some of the 70's-rich, slightly decayed, fleapit pleasure to be had.

The main memory stuck in my head after watching Flossie though, isn't the naughty bits, the sometimes gorgeous locations, or even the groovy music - it's Marie Forsa's nearly constant (and clearly quite real) smile. If that's just a false memory, I don't care - it was, like everything else about Marie Forsa and her movies, real enough.

words: mark gordon palmer


  1. I am a Marie Forsa fan and have been for 30 plus years. I actually have a magazine from the 70s with her having sex for real which I cherish.

  2. Hello
    I suppose you want to talk about the magazine SELECTA
    Or do we see Marie Forsa in hard pictures?
    thank you for your reply