• Inga Collection, The (Inga/The Seduction Of Inga/The Indelicate Balance)

    Released by: Retro-Seduction Cinema
    Released on: August 14, 2012.
    Director: Joe Sarno
    Cast: Marie Liljedahl, Monica Strommerstedt
    Year: 1968/1971/1969
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    The Movies:

    Quite a few years back, Retro-Seduction Cinema released a few Joe Sarno movies – the original Inga, and the follow up film, The Seduction Of Inga which included two versions of the movie and a third, previously thought to be lost Sarno film, The Indelicate Balance. Those releases went out of print, started to get pretty expensive in the collector’s market, and wound up out of reach of a lot of people who wanted to get their hands on them. Well, that changes now with this re-release, The Inga Collection, which gathers up all of the material from those releases and combines them together for the first time. If you have those previous releases, you can save yourself some time and skip this review – these discs are identical to those. If not, read on…

    Inga (1968):

    When this movie begins we meet Greta (Monica Strommerstedt), a middle aged woman with a libido that just won’t stop. She’s got a thing for a younger man named Karl (Casten Lassen) who makes a living as a writer… sort of. He seems to constantly be talking Greta into getting him what he wants but doesn’t seem to have much intention of paying her back. Also in the picture is Greta’s former flame, Einar (Thomas Ungewitter), and he’s got a thing for pretty, younger ladies. Enter Inga (Marie Liljedahl) – she’s recently lost her mother and at the ripe old age of seventeen has been sent to live with Greta, who is her aunt.

    Karl and Einar notice Inga immediately – she’s a foxy young thing and they can’t help but pay attention to her. Greta, who is desperate to keep money hungry Karl happy, decides that she’s basically going to act as a madam and set Inga up with Einar – at which point the virginal Inga, virgin no more, realizes the joys of becoming a woman.

    As much a soap opera as any of Sarno’s other sex films, Inga still holds up well as a melodramatic tale of sexual awakening in the finest of sleazy traditions. Everyone in the movie is out to get a piece of the titular underage newcomer, and under the tutelage of her horny aunt, Inga gets primed and ready to deliver. The thought of a family member educating a younger family member in the ways of sex such as Greta does to Inga here is a bit disturbing and creepy but that’s how it goes sometimes. Sarno shoots the movie very nicely here, using everything from shower doors to open windows to frame things nicely and with no small amount of style. The black and white cinematography constantly frames Liljedahl in the best and most seductive light you’d imagine would be possible and the movie is all the more effective for it. The score is also interesting, and occasionally catchy – on a technical level this film, like many of Sarno’s other pictures, is above and beyond what a lot of competing sexploitation directors were offering at the time.

    Performance wise, Strommerstedt has as much, if not more to do, in the film than top billed Liljedahl does but both ladies deliver fine performances here. The supporting cast occasionally stumble but for the most part all involved deliver what they need to deliver. The end result is a well put together and highly sexualized drama that won’t floor you with plot twists or remarkable storytelling but which will certainly hold your attention in other more enjoyable ways.

    The Seduction Of Inga (1971):

    Made a few years later with Liljedahl once again in the lead, this follow up film catches up with Inga a few years after the events in the first movie. She’s moved to Stockholm with her man but recently broken up with him and is now more or less penniless with no discernible way to pay her bills or support herself. She eventually winds up taking a job working for an older man named Stig (Lennart Lindberg) taking diction and, well, dicktion as well. When she’s not proof reading for him she’s dressing up at his request and letting him slide it in all the way to the top. Eventually it comes to pass that those clothes Stig is asking Inga to dress up in? They belonged to someone else, but we won’t tell you who.

    Meanwhile, the younger and cooler Rolf (Tommy Blom), a musician, has got the hots for Inga and aims to get what he wants from her with no regard for Stig’s intentions. He writes her a song and once Stig splits for a trip, Inga winds up giving him what he knew he’d get from her all along. Things do get considerably more complicated for poor Inga once she learns who Stig really is.

    This second film is different from the first one in a few ways, not the least of which is the switch from black and white to color. Additionally, the story takes Inga out of the countryside and into the city where the whole early seventies ‘swinging Europe’ scene appears to have been in full bloom. Thematically we also head into different territory here. In the initial film, Inga was young, naïve and eager for experience whereas here she’s basically just depressed and looking for love in all the wrong places. Liljedahl is fine in the lead but the rest of the characters are hard to like – this is probably intentional and at least part of the point of the story in the first place but the end result is a film that’s bleaker and less sexually interesting than the one that came before it.

    The soundtrack, however, does feature compositions by the likes of Benny Andersson, Peter Himmelstrand , Björn Ulvaeus and Sven-Olof Walldoff. Why does this matter? Andersson and Ulbaeus would go on to form ABBA, that’s why. So there’s some weird trivia for you. This disc contains both the ‘grindhouse cut’ and Sarno’s preferred cut, the later being noticeable softer. The ‘grindhouse cut’ features inserts that show us harder versions of the many sex scenes that make up the movie and are using body doubles that are painfully obvious. It’s not as good as the softer cut mainly for that reason.

    The Indelicate Balance (1969)

    Though this one is more of an ‘extra feature’ than a main attraction, it’s interesting enough that it deserves some more attention than it might get if it were buried at the bottom of a review. The film follows a man named Harald, a painter who has been away from home for a few years. He and his wife, Karin, head to his family home for a visit with his mother who is overjoyed at his return, but things get very weird, very fast. It seems that Harald’s mother is a little too close to him, something that’s sure to upset Karin, and then there’s the small matter of Harald’s sister, the oversexed Ingrid, who isn’t happy at all about his return.

    As mother and sister make their true feelings for Karin’s husband known, she gets understandably quite upset and decides to start pitching for the other team. Harald, on the other hand, appears to be going insane very quickly.

    More of a companion piece to Daddy Darling than the Inga films (though like the Inga films it was shot in Sweden), the version of the movie here is trimmed but as no other elements exist, it’s unlikely we’re going to see any other version surface any time soon. The movie itself is pretty good, though definitely twisted and chock full of wacky incest and familial scheming galore. The cast, none of whom are recognizable to this writer, do a fine job with the material and play things straight enough that they never fail to convince. Sarno again makes sure that the film looks good, that it’s properly edited (it’s a testament that this comes through despite the obvious chopping of the steamier scenes) and that it’s well scored. Although it’s stagey at times, those who appreciate Sarno’s particular form of sexy soap operatics will appreciate the inclusion of this one.


    Inga is presented in its original black and white fullframe aspect ratio and it looks pretty good for its age. Some wear and tear is present but overall the image is pretty stable and clean enough that nothing becomes too distracting in terms of print damage. The Seduction Of Inga is a different story. There are two versions included on the DVD, the first if the ‘Grindhouse Version’ which has some stronger sex scenes insert into it. It looks alright, showing decent colors and average detail. The standard version of the movie, that being the one without the obvious and distracting inserts in it, looks pretty rough. Colors are all over the place, often looking very faded and washed out and print damage is a constant. It’s also framed at an off ratio of (non-anamorphic) 1.44.1, almost fullframe but not quite. The Indelicate Balance is transferred from what are believed to be the only existing elements and it’s also in fairly rough shape and it also appears to have been trimmed of some of the racier material at some point.

    You can watch Inga in your choice of English or Swedish though the subtitles are burned into the print and not coming off. Otherwise, the audio here is fine. In regards to the sequel, it’s English only, also in Mono. The Indelicate Balance is presented in Swedish with burned in English subtitles. Audio is about what you’d expect across the board, fairly flat but serviceable enough.

    Extras are carried over from the past release, as mentioned. Inga starts off with a commentary track moderated by Bruce Hallenbeck and featuring Joe Sarno, his wife Peggy Stephans (who served as his assistant director) and the film’s producer, Sam Sherman. It gets off to a bit of a rocky start but once Sherman starts to dominate the conversation he gets Sarno talking about the movie, it’s tempestuous leading lady, the locations and the content. Marie Liljedahl gets in front of the microphone for a ten minute audio interview in which she discusses the making of this film and its place in her body of work which is also worth listening to. Rounding out the extras on the disc are ten minutes worth of outtakes from the film, two trailers for Inga, trailers for a load of other Seduction Cinema titles, menus and chapter stops.

    The extras for The Seduction Of Inga disc carry over the commentary for The Indelicate Balance that’s worth listening to. The participants here include Peggy Sarno, Retro-Seduction Cinema's David Fine and Gary Huggins, the man who discovered this previously thought to be lost film. Peggy takes the reins on this track keeps it interesting, talking about her work in exploitation films on both sides of the Atlantic and what it was like working with her husband on this and other projects. There’s also a few trailers, a music video for the Inga theme song featured in the movie and two documentaries on the Inga films: Innocence Lost: The Story of Inga is a featurette with Joe and Peggy Sarno and Marie Liljedahl. That lets the participants discuss their work and talk about what they’ve been up to since. Memories of Inga is an audio interview with producer Vernon P. Becker who discusses the themes and ideas behind the movie and what it was like working behind the scenes on it. Inside the keepcase is a booklet of liner notes that offer some history of the films and the people who made them – definitely worth reading.

    The Final Word:

    If you’ve got the previous releases from Retro-Seduction Cinema, there’s absolutely no reason to double dip on this bundle but, with that said, they were out of print for a long time and there are definitely those who will appreciate being able to get these again at a fair price. Yes, there could have and should have been more work put into the presentation of the films in the collection but the extras are plentiful and of very good quality, as such they go a long way towards rounding this package out very nicely. Pretty essential for Sarno fans and sexploitation buffs, the set comes recommended despite the lack of remastering.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      I so wish we could get English-friendly releases of these two movies with the better transfers from the Swedish dvds. The sequel looks particularly bad here. And I watched the original in 35mm matted to 1.85:1 and it looked great.