Though the Something Weird shill makes fun of it in the back-of-the-box notes, GUDRUN is a quality Danish drama about a young woman's rites of passage in finding romance. It may have been marketed as sexploitation (retitled: SUDDENLY, A WOMAN!) in America, but this is solid filmmaking, not porn.
It must be remembered that even Ingmar Bergman got his first big break here in the U.S. due to the sexy content of his work, rather than its obvious artistry, as his early Harriet Andersson vehicles SUMMER WITH MONIKA and THE NAKED NIGHT were imported and proved to be art house hits.
Similarly, some brief nude scenes and a general frankness made GUDRUN exportable, released in the U.S. several years after it was made in the wake of the breakthrough (now forgotten) Scandi import DEAR JOHN.
Laila Anderson is quite touching in the title role, a secretary who falls in love with a young building workman (Jorgen Buckhoj) and makes grand plans for him to go back to school and study to be an architect (while she foots the bills).
The very '50s romance and relatively bourgeois hopes & dreams are dashed when Gudrun is snagged by her stereotypically creepy boss (Poul Reichhardt) for an impromptu business trip to the head office in London, during which he tries to rape her.
It was wonderful to see the Silent Era star Nils Asther (great in such classics as THE SEA BAT and opposite Garbo in WILD ORCHIDS and THE SINGLE STANDARD) in his final film role as the London company head, who seems to be making a move on Gudrun, too, but turns out to be merely a Platonic friend and benefactor.
Subplot involving a possessive lesbian landlady (Elsa Kourani) helps keep the plot twists moving and the increasingly weird melodrama results in a surprising happy ending, given all the travails Gudrun must endure.
A talented stripper named Constance does a very effective story-vignette strip act named coincidentally "Dear John", adding to the spiciness of the film, which like so many other imports provided a type of cinema not being produced in America at the time (apart from low-budget exploitation material). Even British films, like ROOM AT THE TOP and certainly TOM JONES were much more frank in content than Hollywood material, even before Mike Nichols' WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? shook up the system for good.
Director Anker Sorenson, hiding behind the name of just "Anker" in the credits, provides a colorful backdrop for the story and gets consistently fine performances from his cast. It's unfortunate that only the English-dubbed (with stupid narrator asides thrown in) version is available, but it plays well.
It is interesting that star Andersson next worked with French director Jose Benazeraf in COVER GIRLS, the only early title by this pioneering pornmeister that I have yet to see. It's already on my want list.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?