Naked in Denmark

More than 75 years after Viennese beauty Hedy Lamarr went skinny-dipping in Ecstasy, sex in mainstream movies has devolved completely from European provocation to Hollywood exploitation. The Danish director Knud Leif Thomsen had the former in mind when he included hardcore sequences in his well-crafted 1966 film, Gift (released in the U.S. as Venom), but his devious plan blew up in his face. Thomsen meant to expose and indict the anything-goes morals of the exploding sexual revolution, but his strategy backfired when he agreed to insert large white crosses over the fucking bits, else the authorities would excise them altogether. The ridiculous compromise ignited a furious debate over censorship that led to its demise in Denmark in just a few years, opening the door for overtly pornographic films. This colorful history and a whole lot more is recounted in Jack Stevenson’s latest book, Scandinavian Blue: The Erotic Cinema of Sweden and Denmark in the 1960s and 1970s. An astute chronicler and collector of cult cinema, the Danish resident and former San Franciscan makes his annual pilgrimage to our seamy city for Scandinavian Blue: Book Launch and Screening with Jack Stevenson, featuring Venom and a couple of choice shorts. Provocation or exploitation? Judge for yourself.
Thu., May 20, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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