Friday, August 7, 2015

Morianerna (1965)

... aka: Die Verkommenen (The Depraved)
... aka: Hillittömät (Unchecked)
... aka: I, the Body
... aka: Moi, un corps
... aka: Morianna

Directed by:
Arne Mattsson

Filthy rich businessman Verner Vade (Anders Henrikson) appears to get great pleasure in being as cruel and condescending as humanly possible. To him, common folk are “peasants” and “parasites,” while his own wife, daughter and other relatives who live in his home are nothing more than “freeloaders.” Not surprisingly, pretty much everyone hates him and they're all growing impatient waiting around for the sadistic old geezer to croak so they can finally get their hands on his money. Verner tells his daughter Monica (Ella Henrikson) that he'll leave her one of his many homes but only if she'll leave her fiance. When she refuses and threatens to find him legally incompetent to overrule the will, he then informs her that he's really planning on leaving every cent to charity; adding that she's not his real daughter and thus has no say in the matter. Because of what a lying jerk he's been her whole life, Monica can't even tell whether he's telling the truth or not. In even worse shape is Verner's much younger wife Anna (Eva Dahlbeck), who might as well forget it since she'd already signed a prenuptial agreement.

Anna and Monica aren't the only ones who want a piece of the pie. Anna's sister Agda (Elsa Prawitz, the director's wife at the time) is married to Verner's lawyer Bengt Ahlgren (Ove Tjernberg), who's recently been busted embezzling money from his client. Monica's fiance Jonas (Walter Norrman), who she's deeply in love with but maybe not vice versa, insinuates that without the money there may not be any marriage. Anna is having an affair with their neighbor, playboy architect Ragnar Synnéus (Erik Hell) and, for good measure, there's also a flamboyant, perverted nephew named Boris (Heinz Hopf), who stays drunk much of the time, lets rats crawl all over his body and has a thing for sexy blonde maid Rita (Lotte Tarp) who, in turn, is sleeping with a shady waiter named Valter Velin (Tor Isedal), who may have past ties with Verner. In other words, it should come as no surprise when one or more of the above finally decide they've had it and try to bump Verner off.

A few days before his 80th birthday, Verner receives a telephone call to his office from a male who only refers to himself as “Death.” Despite that major red flag, Verner agrees to meet up with "Death" at the man's apartment, which turns out to actually be the architect and Anna's “love nest.” When he arrives and walks into the bathroom, he's caught off guard by the sight of Rita taking a shower. He's then attacked and severely beaten by an unknown assailant. Though Verner's left for dead, his body disappears soon after. Luckily, Detective Durell (Olle Andersson) happened to be passing by Verner's office and overheard snippets of a strange conversation going on between Verner and his cab driver prior to the attack. Already with one clue to go by, Durell volunteers to take on the case and gets to work checking out the entire family. Things get more complicated when Verner shows up at home battered (but as big an asshole as ever) and then someone kills him again... or did he / she / they?

Coming out smack in the middle of the popular West German / Edgar Wallace krimi cycle, this minor mystery has much in common with those films (tons of suspects / red herrings, action set primarily in an old dark house, shadowy b/w photography, etc.) but seriously lacks punch. The production values are rather low and there's no humor, no bizarre camerawork, no real sense of style, no suspense and (worst of all) no real surprises. That all results in a fairly-competent, though dreary, murky, overly-talky and plodding film. The cast isn't bad at all (Hopf is especially memorable) but ultimately can't save the whole thing from being forgettable and utterly routine.

Likely because there was no other way to effectively sell this bland film to an international audience, it had to be misleadingly marketed as a sex film to play up a few instances of nudity. Most countries put Lotte Tarp (who shows breasts and ass in three different scenes) front and center as the star despite the fact she appears here strictly in a supporting part. On the Italian poster, she's billed as “La Sex Bomb.” Here in America, the 1968 press kit calls it “A most candid sensual film” and is filled with topless shots of Tarp. She's the only actor even billed on the Morianna poster and her character is referred to as “...a maid in the House of Sade!” It was also re-titled I, the Body in some places to try to entice viewers who had seen Mac Ahlberg's then-scandalous erotic film I, a Woman (1965).

A good number of mystery-thrillers would come out soon after Morianerna (an adaptation of a novel by Jan Ekström) was made that were far more graphic with the sex and violence, essentially nudging this down the path of completely obscurity. It never received a VHS or DVD release here in America as a result, nor anywhere else other than Sweden to my knowledge.


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...