QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Sweet Movie (1974)

Sweet Movie (1974) at IMDB

After watching (some but not all) of this, my wife commented "That's a really strange movie and I've seen strange movies." I watched the whole thing.

It started out reminding me of something Monty Python might make. The opening lines, sung in I think Polish, go something like "Is that a pile of cow shit or my beloved?" Then we get a TV beauty contest / "Who wants to marry a billionaire?" show with the quirk that one of the event competitions involves a hymen inspection. The judge for that comes in riding a unicycle and the announcer, by way of explaining qualifications, lists famous people he delivered as an obstetrician. (During the examination the annoucer speaks of the judge's "deep insight".) Then the winning lady goes home with a Canadian(?) milk baron who looks and talks Texan.

Here's the thing about marrying virgins: they don't know what they are doing in bed. If this guy had married someone who had been around the block (so to speak) a few, well maybe more than a few, times then his new wife probably would not have reacted as poorly on the nuptial night. Someone with more experience, and with a strong gold-digging streak, might not have found the "wipe-down with disinfectant" foreplay as off- putting, nor the golden member of her new husband so shocking. Alas, that was just too much for this "Miss Canada".

Imagine John Waters, Pink Flamingos era Waters, with a dash of surreal, a decent budget, an arty look, and a long checklist of fetishes to include in a movie. (For the record, none of the sex and nudity came across as erotic to me, merely as strange.) You start to get the idea here.

There are two stories intercut here, with no strong connection between them. We don't even know if they take place contemporaneously. One is the saga of the beauty queen, which is about two-thirds of the movie, and the other is about the captain of a strange ship sailing around Amersterdam. The ship has a giant head of Karl Marx on the front, is named "SURVIVAL", and is painted in checkerboard. Oh, and it serves the purpose of a windowless van with the words "Free Candy" on the side. Apparently the actress that plays the captain was exiled from her native Poland for seven years over this role. It's that sort of movie.

I'm not sure I found a story here other than two slices-of-very-strange lives. There's a faint "sweet"ness (as in sugar) connection between the stories, but not so I'd like to answer an essay question listing them. There's also footage from two old newsreels, one dealing with a mass grave, one with a doctor demonstrating exercies for a baby.

Roger Ebert's original review, from 1975, is online at his Sun-Times site

Interesting. I didn't look for other reviews, but I did skim the essay in the booklet with the movie. That essay mentions how bold the director is using documentary footage of the bodies from the Katyn Forest Massacre, a Stalin atrocity not acknowledged by the Russians for about twenty years after "Sweet Movie" came out. It also goes into the Reichian orgone connection with the commune.

Ebert's review mentions:

In "Sweet Movie," there are several strands of subjects, none of them ever quite brought together (one problem is that his starring actress became so disturbed by the commune scenes that she walked out on the picture).
That would be the beauty queen. I can't say I blame her. Food fight turned golden shower, some non-simulated (bad) oral sex, and then scat play, I can't imagine it was like anything else she has ever done before or since. Oh, and she has suckle from a lactating woman.

The millionare, Mr. Kapital, is played by Animal House's Dean Wormer. It's been a long time since I've seen Animal House. I'd say this is the place to go if you want to see his cock in gold body paint, but then I realized I don't know if it is him or a double. I don't think they show the face in that scene.

If you watch it, you won't soon forget it. Two sugar filled beds out of five.

A local library find.