This week was the 52nd anniversary of the opening of a film that would change the history of European exploitation films forever. While Sweden was known for nudie cutie films, Denmark was the home of hardcore sex films, thanks to liberal laws around lasciviousness from '1969 (natch!) onwards and the film and print output of the likes of Color Climax Corporation. Basically, if it was Danish it was hard-core.
The premiere of “Mazurka på sengekanten” (Bedroom Mazurka”) on 31 August 1970 not only made Danish softcore comedies a global phenomenon, but also proved that sex films can be funny. It was such a roaring success that is spawned no less than seven sequels between 1971 and 1976, of which the second (“Bedside Dentist”) was rushed out just a year later on 3 August 1971 - the same opening date as the fifth in the series (“Bedside Romance” in 1973); clearly a luck date.
The Palladium-produced and John Hilbard-directed films made a star of the lead Ole Søltoft, who appeared in all but one of the eight films, and Birte Tove. It also inspired the more sex-focused Zodiac films, six of which were released between 1973 and 1978. Cultpix has been fortunate to be able to work with the Danish Film Institute (!) to bring you the beautifully restored HD versions of all eight Mazurka/Bedside films, as well as some English dubbed and German edited versions to enjoy.
Just like “Deep Throat” (1972) made it ‘respectable’ for couples to go and watch ‘sexy’ films in regular cinemas, so to the Mazurka/Bedside films made sex comedies acceptable all over the world. As Ebbe Villadsen pointed out in “Danish Erotic Film Classics” (2005), “All the Bedside-films had many pornographic sex scenes, but were nevertheless considered mainstream films. They all had mainstream casts and crews, and were shown in mainstream cinemas and reviewed in national newspapers etc.” The last three went hardcore, to emulate the Zodiac films, which did not necessarily improve them.
“Bedside Mazurka” is even the exploitation film that my parents talked about having watched in cinemas! Oh, and the poster is so iconic that it even inspired a James Bond one. When it comes to global influence, the Bedside films are up there with Nordic Noir and Dogme 95 in terms of putting Denmark on the global film map - only sexier than the former and funnier than the latter. Much funnier.
Namer the James Bond film that stole this concept for its poster.
“Mazurka på sengekanten” (1970) - The first in the series set the tone for the rest of the films with Ole Søltoft playing a hopelessly naive but likeable professional (teacher, dentist, etc.) who gets himself into situations where nudity and sexual encounters ensue. The first and probably the best, is set at an all-boys boarding school where the students try to help a popular teacher get over his sexual inhibitions, so that he can marry within 30 days. Also available as an English dub.
“Tandlæge på sengekanten” (1971) - Switching from boarding school to dental school, where Ole Søltoft needs to find his sexual mojo to prove himself to his millionaire aunt, a bit of a sex nut herself. Tagline on international posters: “When he fills a cavity… It feels marvellous!” Fun fact: before he became an actor Ole Søltoft was a substitute teacher after high school and studied one year at the Tandlægehøjskolen, the leading Danish school for dentists.
“Rektor på sengekanten” (1972) - The series return to the school environment for the third film, called “Bedside Head” (as in Headmaster, nothing else, you filthy minds). Here the young headmaster (you-know-who) is determined to make his school co-educational and considers his virile students to be a national treasure. So the school is turned into a love hotel for the summer. Nudity ensues. (A 23 minute shorter German version is also available thank to @tightsbury).
“Motorvej på sengekanten” (1972) - The only film in the series not staring Ole Søltoft, who jumped ship to do the Zodiac films, though he returned for the subsequent films in the series. A young official of the Department of Roads and Traffic and all the women of the local village end up in the sack. This one is the most Carry On-style of all the films.
Flowers on the balcony.
“Romantik på sengekanten” (1973) - A girl inherits a string of industrial concerns that will become bankrupt by the inheritance tax unless the girl marries the son of the owner (Ole is back!) of a competing industrial concern. Birte Tove is beautiful and she shows everything.
“Der må være en sengekant” (1975) - By now the Bedside was going hardcore, to compete with the Zodiac and other ‘sexier’ films. A young sunlamp salesman’s erotic urges with his wife become too much for her, and she departs for her mother’s house. He takes to bachelor life like a fish to water, and sleeps with as many women as the director can dream up scenarios for. Features brief sex-in-a-swimming-pool scene and a ferocious catfight-turned-lesbian make-out.
“Hopla på sengekanten” (1976) - The head of a big engineering firm is a workaholic who neglects his pretty young wife - leading to her joining an “escort” service as a means of sexual relief. All is well, until the escort service is hired to entertain the engineering firm’s clients at a swingers’ party. The German title was “Help! My Wife is an Escort.” (Which is up there with “Snakes on a Plane”.)
“Sømænd på sengekanten” (1976) - A young woman pretends to be a man to get a job as machinist’s mate on a freighter - similar plot to “Blue Jackets” (1964). When she is unmasked, they are all at sea. We are still working on English subtitles for this one. Two years after the film came out (1978) Ole Søltoft retired from acting, but would forever be associated with the Bedside and Zodiac series.
Did you guess the Bond film? It was For Your Eyes Only.