Friday, June 19, 2009

Dagmar's Hot Pants (1971)

Directed by Vernon P. Becker
Starring Diana Kjær, Anne Grete, Anne-Lise Alexandersson, Robert Strauss
Rated R

"You're the cleanest broad I've ever known."

From what I've read - this one hit the screens a decade or so before my time, so I wasn't there - Dagmar's Hot Pants did brisk business on 42nd Street and in drive-ins, for two reasons: it arrived at the height of hot pants mania, and it featured then-notable US character-actor Robert Strauss, clearly slumming it in Euro-sploitation land. Also, it was originally rated X, but so was everything in 1971. Well, I am sad to report that there are no hot pants involved, and Robert Strauss (RIP), a near-constant presence on TV screens in the 1960's, is no longer much of a draw. So, what's left? Swedish tits. Also some Danish tits. And that's nothin' to sniff at.

Dagmar (Diana Kjær, RIP) is your average hooker with a heart of gold, a big-eyed, red-headed Swedish beauty slumming it in Copenhagen for reasons unknown, entertaining an assortment of sophisticated world travelers for a handsome fee and occasionally brokering a budget deal with a local. We meet Dagmar on a very momentous day in her life - her very last day working as a prostitute.

Dagmar is woken from a sound sleep by the phone. On the other end is Johnny (Robert Strauss), one of her clients. A high-rolling American just shy of retirement age, Johnny tells Dagmar he's just got to see her later that day. She knows it's going to be some bullshit about how in love he is with her, but she figures she's leaving town tonight anyway, so she might as well give him a proper send off. She makes plans for later, and then calls her best pal Vivi (Anne-Lise Alexandersson) a va-va-voomy platinum blonde who's still fucking last night's 'date' when Dagmar calls.

Vivi's going to be moving into Dag's spacious pad when she splits, so amidst grunts and groans, she makes plans to meet with her friend at the lawyer's office later that day to sign the lease. And then Jack, Dagmar's brother calls. He's got some fuckin' problem, too. So she makes plans with him, as well. It's a very hectic day for our girl Dagmar.

Compounding Dagmar's troubles, her pal Ingrid (Anne Grete) calls her up just as she's about to leave and asks her to come over and help her out with two double-booked clients, leaning heavy on the 'I-helped-you-plenty-times' guilt trip. Dagmar simply cannot make it, so she dials up every other whore in town and tries to get one of them to make the gig, but everyone is a busy.

"I can't, I'm just too beat," says one girl, as she gets whipped by a client. "I'd love to, but I'm tied up right now," says another, as she struggles against the ropes that bind her. A third girl is, frankly, insulted by the phone call. "I've found someone I love, and I've given up that sick, perverted life," she says, hanging up the phone. Then she goes back to fucking her voluptuous blonde lesbian lover.

You know, stuff like that. Sure, it's not really funny. But you've gotta see these girls!

Since no one else will do it, Dagmar calls Ingrid back and tells her that she'll try and make it. Then she puts on a kicky white mini-dress and goes to see the doctor, who tells her the "Test results are negative." So that's good news. I'm assuming it's good news. Then he says, "You know, all these tests cost you girls a lot of money, but I know how you can get all your medical needs taken care of free, Dagmar..." And then he squeezes her boobs.

Dagmar manages to escape the creepy doc's clutches and visits her stockbroker, who tells her she's still rich, and then asks her to cure his goofy teenage son of his nagging virginity. Dagmar's in a good mood, so she agrees. Then she drops by her lawyer's office, where she meets up with Vivi. Not only does Vivi buy Dagmar's apartment, but her generous friend throws in her little black book, as well, complete with notations on how much to charge each of the johns. So that was sweet of her.

Meanwhile, Ingrid's stalling with her two Japanese businessmen clients.
"In Japan, if a Geisha girl is late," says one of the men, "The next day, she's back in the factory making transistor radios."
"Don't worry," Ingrid tells him, "She's worth the wait. She's Swedish!"
Dagmar finally shows up and they pose for pictures. Then the four of them have a groovy dance party before getting down to business.

Unfortunately, that drunken bastard Igor Romanoff barges in halfway through, yelling about his 'missing rubles' and threatening to ruin the party. Mr. Suzuki tells him to beat it, unless he wants to be the "Next Russian in orbit", and then karate-chops a table in half to show him he means business. Igor gets the drift and splits.

After the party breaks up, Dagmar and Ingrid share a quiet moment together. Dagmar tells her she's quitting the business for good and leaves. Then she heads over to some nutty fat maestro's pad and has gross, sweaty sex with him while classical music blares away, threatening to bring the whole house down. Then she puts her dress back on and heads out for more adventures. She runs into her pal Brita (Helli Louise), who has a moped and what has to be the world's first mobile phone. She tells Dagmar it's her new business model. She's a hooker on wheels. I guess that's supposed to be funny. Hard to tell at this point.

Dagmar has lunch with her deadbeat brother Jack (it's still only lunchtime?), a shaggy-haired musician who asks her for 35,000 crowns to pay for his girlfriend's abortion. Dagmar figures she's never gonna see this chump again, so why not? She gives him a travelers check.

Then she meets up with a dude on the vice squad. They gulp whiskey, smoke weed, and fuck. Again, I think that's supposed to be a gag. Then Dagmar says goodbye to the guy who hides in her closet to watch her fuck other dudes. He pays her $200, and when she tells him she thinks he gave her too much, he tells her, "No, it's a going-away gift. Over the past two years, you've become like a daughter to me."
Like the daughter you watch have sex with strange men? Gross.

And then Dagmar takes a much-needed bath. Afterward, she packs her bags, grabs her teddy bear, and calls a cab to take her to the airport.

And then her pimp Vince shows up, and fuckin' ruins everything. She has sex with him and then encourages him to shower off his sex-stink. He takes her advice, and while he's soaping up, she snatches up all her stuff and takes off down a side staircase, still in her towel. She gets dressed on the way down. Cleverly, she took Vince's clothes with her too, so he can't chase her. He runs out into the hall naked and scares a bunch of biddies half to death. Then he locks himself out of the apartment. So he's all messed up.

Dagmar gets off the plane in Sweden and runs into the arms of Lenny, her true love. There's a sort of melodramatic twist ending that explains how Dagmar ended up a whore in Denmark, but it's so dumb I'll let you find out for yourself what it is, so that you can also roll your eyes and chuckle at the lameness/idiocy of it all, like I did.

Dagmar's Hot Pants is a pretty strange movie. I am almost sure it's meant to be a comedy, but the jokes land so far off the mark that you can practically hear them wooshing as they fly by. You can see how certain scenes would play out if more capable hands were involved - Benny Hill in the grabby doctor scene, for example, or Russ Meyer directing the horny Japanese businessmen vs. the drunk Russian bit - and it makes you realize that there was the potential for Dagmar to be a very funny and sexy little film. As it is, it's more of a naughty drama with an awkward comic tone. It's a slow-burning oddity saved from the dustbin just because Kjær is so lovely to look at, and she's naked in nearly every scene, as are most of the other women in the cast. Les Baxter's score is pretty swingin' as well, and the mod décor and groovy outfits are boss.

I guess what I'm saying is...thanks for the boobs, Sweden.

One thing, though: why's Dagmar's Hot Pants? She doesn't wear pants once. Maybe it's a euphemism.

All in all, director Vernon P Becker had a pretty great run. In fact, he's probably Sweden's all-time greatest (or at least most prolific) sexploitation peddler. Prior to Dagmar, he produced The Seduction of Inga (1971), and he followed this one up with Swedish Wildcats ( producer, 1972), and 3D softcore foolishness The Groove Room (director,1975). In 1979, he produced the legendary Nocturna (aka the disco Dracula), and finished his career producing the rarely-seen Love Scenes (1984), which boasted a pretty incredible cast: Tiffany Bolling, Julie Newmar, and Britt Ekland! Who knows where he is now. Probably in Gothenberg somewhere, chasing the maid around the room.

- Ken McIntyre

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