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  Young Playthings Overcomplicated Orgasms
Year: 1972
Director: Joe Sarno
Stars: Christina Lindberg, Eva Portnoff, Margaretta Hellstrom, Thomas Nervell, Britten Larsson, Gunilla Mattison, Teddy Lundberg, Sinikka Karlsson, Bjorn Brenemark, Karin Genberg, Jill Wenstrom, George Harrisson
Genre: Sex, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gunilla (Christina Lindberg) is a designer whose best friend Nora (Eva Portnoff) is always frank with her, especially in matters of relationships. She is having trouble with her husband, who keeps heading off on business trips and leaving her alone, so Gunilla is her shoulder to cry on, though to keep the hubby interested Nora would like her pal to go further. Her big idea is to initiate a threesome because she's sure this would bolster her marriage, but Gunilla is a lot less open about that kind of thing and expresses reluctance. Nevertheless, she is persuaded to stay with Nora while her partner is away, and on the stairs of her apartment block one day she is surprised by the neighbour from below, Brit (Margaretta Hellstrom).

Brit has a proposition too, and it sounds a lot more wholesome, as she is a toymaker so keeps asking Gunilla, "Would you like to see my toys?" If that seems unsettling, then you would be correct in that assessment, for Brit is plainly creepy and our heroine would be wise to stay away from her, even if she does make her orgasm. That's right, as well as children's toys, creepy Brit makes sex toys for ladies, but she has an elaborate set up for using them which involve the people she invites over to try them out, acting out plays as if in a ritual, all accompanied by the mellow tones of their hostess babbling some Swedish folk tales over the tape recorder. If by this point you're getting confused as to the purpose of these activities, then you would not be alone.

Okay, the orgasm would be a bonus, at least you have to assume, but everything else screams "stay away!" as if Brit was some witch of the dark arts in a chilly castle and not some suburban downstairs neighbour in a nicely furnished flat. But that was the world that director Joe Sarno was keen to create in what was his most eccentric film by far. If you don't know the name, then he was a specialist in softcore and also hardcore movies who made waves in the United States until he decided Europe would be a better place to ride out the sexual revolution and moved to Sweden, where he made a little item called Inga which was very successful and helped establish the nation as the perfect place to get your erotica along with Denmark.

Young Playthings was his experimental effort that for many years was believed lost, and one of the greatest achievements in its genre. Fortunately for Sarno fans (not unlike Radley Metzger fans, but less rarefied) a workprint was found in the twenty-tens, and a restored version was pieced together with a patch-up of the video copy, not ideal, but better than nothing. The question was, however, whether it lived up to its reputation as something special after all that time, or whether time had not been kind, and the answer sadly had to be the latter. It generated some interest, not merely because of Sarno, though that was assuredly a factor in the specialist interest category, but because it starred Christina Lindberg, one of the most popular European pin-ups of her era, and she was certainly very naked here which would satisfy her fans.

What may not satisfy them, or anyone else, was the rest of it, a weird combination of the erotic and the boring, though as often with this director, he was not as explicit as he appeared, or the audience might have wanted. One issue that may be a potential deal-breaker is the dialogue, which thanks to the circumstances in which it was retrieved, was muffled and to make matters worse, spoken in English by the cast dubbed onto their performances in heavily-accented Swedish inflection, leaving it as good as unintelligible in too many places - the long stretches of fairy-tale monologue from Brit heard on the tapes were largely impenetrable. By the point that the creepy toymaker has amassed a clique of sexual adventurers at her pad who begin to mutiny and laugh their heads off, you may have nodded off in a baffled doze, and while Lindberg was always worth seeing no matter her lack of thespian talent, this really tested the patience for non-aficionados and aficionados alike, though the dedicated may persevere ever onwards. Music by Annette Goran (as if Mrs Mills was secreted in the corner).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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