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THE SWINGER 1966 ANN MARGARET BODY PAINT AND PSYCHEDELIC RITUAL DANCE RESTORED DVD-R!

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The Swinger is one of those singular films which seem to define an era, reverently hewing to existing cinematic and narrative convention while radically subverting those elements, an amazing cultural artifact which may make you wonder, “how did something so unique and contrary escape the stifling clutches of studio Hollywood?” The film is, at first glance, a curious and perhaps unwieldy combination of parody and homage to unadulterated old-world sexism; a last gasp, perhaps, of the “old order.” A cynic might even sniff that The Swinger is little more than “a psychedelic Don Knotts comedy with sex,” but it is so much more.

In some wise, The Swinger is the logical extension of the bedroom comedies of the early 1960s (i.e., Pillow Talk), a “square” Hollywood sex farce that dares to burst its fetters to become something bold and daring; add to this a loving nod to the “youth counterculture” movement of the day, albeit from a strictly traditionalist (one might even say “puritanical”) angle. The Hollywood “youth counterculture” film of the 1960s was a precarious, dangerous experiment, creating many casualties (think Skidoo or The Phynx), but The Swinger is a rare example of that diabolical experiment actually working.

The Swinger takes said Hollywood bedroom farce, and invigorates it with some avant-garde experiments in cinematic revisionism, using a formulaic screenplay liberally peppered with trenchant social commentary. The film borrows two common (even hoary) 60s tropes – the imposter pretending to be who he is not, and the time-honored “A Virgin in Babylon” narrative arc of the low sex comedy – and mutates them beyond recognition in the service of something modern and challenging.

What we have with The Swinger is a fascinating example of the changing of the guards, the old Hollywood formula merging with new techniques and contrarian sensibilities to form a curious hybrid – a form completely new and exciting to some. Corny scenes such as the old lech publisher chasing young starlets around his desk – something almost out of the burlesque era – crash into stunningly modern montage sequences, creating an aesthetic disorientation completely energizing to the rapt viewer.

The heart of The Swinger, of course, and arguably the sole reason for its existence, is the extraordinary talent of Ms Ann-Margret. She is not so much actress or singer or dancer here as a force of nature, and her electrifying presence performs a ritual alchemy which energizes the entire film, bringing the tawdry script and the avant-garde montage together in a blissful harmony which serves as vicarious “yin-yang” invocation of powerful socio-cultural forces. Ann-Margret is the embodiment of the divine goddess-warrior, an implacable, unstoppable force with the capacity to revolutionize or overthrow existing social structures; her character Kelly Olsson* radically changes the corrupt phallocentric environment which entraps her – and on her own terms – so in some wise could be considered a strong proto-feminist archetype, all the more ironic in that she uses her “sex” as her main weapon of conquest.

The fact that Kelly eerily mirrors the actress’ own travails in Hollywood makes the character virtually jump off the screen (*even more ironic when you consider that Olsson is Ann-Margret’s real surname!). One could even argue that The Swinger is semi-autobiographical – at least in an archetypal sense – concerning the treacherous waters a young lady must navigate successfully to flourish (or even survive) in show business. Yet The Swinger doesn’t merely showcase its main character: it fetishizes, even obsesses on her, the camera following her around like a love-struck stalker.

In sharp (and crucial) counterpoint to Kelly’s blunt sexuality, Tony Franciosa plays a character which – for all his pretensions to progressive liberalism, is strictly a straight-laced, 9-to-5 kinda guy, the perfect conservative foil and dimwit muse for the demonically mischievous Kelly.

Structurally, The Swinger interrupts the narrative frequently to offer some breathtaking, highly stylized montage sequences (including one of the greatest pre-credits sequences of all time); either you appreciate these radical editorial splashes, or you really have no business calling yourself a film buff. The Swinger also features, like its ostensible prototype Bye Bye Birdie, high-energy dance numbers with great choreography, plus several winning examples of breaking “the fourth wall,” a not uncommon trick during this time period but done brilliantly here.

Amongst several strong contenders, the infamous “body painting” sequence is likely The Swinger’s single greatest set-piece, in essence a subversive attempt to sneak a full-blown sex orgy into a mainstream Hollywood film; in this reckless conceit it succeeds wildly. Also worth noting is a montage of Kelly shopping at swanky Saks Fifth Avenue, an adorable collage of still shots animated to show our heroine’s ability to effortlessly alternate between stunning beauty and tomboyish charm.

After baffling and challenging and delighting it’s stupefied audience for 80 minutes, The Swinger ends on a deliriously strange high note: after chasing each other around for a bit (with Ann-Margret riding her own motorcycle!), the star-crossed lovers collide, dying horribly in a shocking, gruesome car crash. Just when the audience is recoiling in shock from this traumatic calamity, the film literally rewinds and apologizes, stating that “it” would never end a film in such a downbeat (or lazy) manner. Kelly and Ric end up living happily ever after, in true fairy tale fashion, albeit within a post-modern meta-fable for a new generation.

It is no wonder that a film as “in your face” as The Swinger had trouble finding its rightful audience; some might find its confrontational tone, arty editorial pretensions and shamelessly retrograde aspects just “too much.” But others celebrate delicious cinematic anomalies like The Swinger, glorious exceptions to the rule which come along so rarely, and are cherished with fierce devotion when they do. Like Lord Love a Duck and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Swinger is a unique cultural marker of its era, both reflecting and revising its predecessors in ways memorable and uncanny.

-Rob Craig

 

THE SWINGER just gets no respect. the wild psychedelic centerpiece of the film is always missing — except on this DVD-R which is restored and includes the complete ritual sex dance and bodypaint experience. woo woo!

color, mono, fullscreen, 85 minutes DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic.

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Description

The Swinger is one of those singular films which seem to define an era, reverently hewing to existing cinematic
and narrative convention while radically subverting those elements, an amazing cultural artifact which may make
you wonder, “how did something so unique and contrary escape the stifling clutches of studio Hollywood?” The
film is, at first glance, a curious and perhaps unwieldy combination of parody and homage to unadulterated old
world sexism; a last gasp, perhaps, of the “old order.” A cynic might even sniff that The Swinger is little more than
“a psychedelic Don Knotts comedy with sex,” but it is so much more.
In some wise, The Swinger is the logical extension of the bedroom comedies of the early 1960s (i.e., Pillow Talk),
a “square” Hollywood sex farce that dares to burst its fetters to become something bold and daring; add to this a
loving nod to the “youth counterculture” movement of the day, albeit from a strictly traditionalist (one might even
say “puritanical”) angle. The Hollywood “youth counterculture” film of the 1960s was a precarious, dangerous
experiment, creating many casualties (think Skidoo or The Phynx), but The Swinger is a rare example of that
diabolical experiment actually working.
The Swinger takes said Hollywood bedroom farce, and invigorates it with some avant-garde experiments in
cinematic revisionism, using a formulaic screenplay liberally peppered with trenchant social commentary. The film
borrows two common (even hoary) 60s tropes – the imposter pretending to be who he is not, and the time-honored
“A Virgin in Babylon” narrative arc of the low sex comedy – and mutates them beyond recognition in the service of
something modern and challenging.
What we have with The Swinger is a fascinating example of the changing of the guards, the old Hollywood formula
merging with new techniques and contrarian sensibilities to form a curious hybrid – a form completely new and
exciting to some. Corny scenes such as the old lech publisher chasing young starlets around his desk – something
almost out of the burlesque era – crash into stunningly modern montage sequences, creating an aesthetic
disorientation completely energizing to the rapt viewer.
The heart of The Swinger, of course, and arguably the sole reason for its existence, is the extraordinary talent of
Ms Ann-Margret. She is not so much actress or singer or dancer here as a force of nature, and her electrifying
presence performs a ritual alchemy which energizes the entire film, bringing the tawdry script and the avant-garde
montage together in a blissful harmony which serves as vicarious “yin-yang” invocation of powerful socio-cultural
forces. Ann-Margret is the embodiment of the divine goddess-warrior, an implacable, unstoppable force with the
capacity to revolutionize or overthrow existing social structures; her character Kelly Olsson* radically changes the
corrupt phallocentric environment which entraps her – and on her own terms – so in some wise could be
considered a strong proto-feminist archetype, all the more ironic in that she uses her “sex” as her main weapon of
conquest.
The fact that Kelly eerily mirrors the actress’ own travails in Hollywood makes the character virtually jump off the
screen (*even more ironic when you consider that Olsson is Ann-Margret’s real surname!). One could even argue
that The Swinger is semi-autobiographical – at least in an archetypal sense – concerning the treacherous waters a
young lady must navigate successfully to flourish (or even survive) in show business. Yet The Swinger doesn’t
merely showcase its main character: it fetishizes, even obsesses on her, the camera following her around like a
love-struck stalker.
In sharp (and crucial) counterpoint to Kelly’s blunt sexuality, Tony Franciosa plays a character which – for all his
pretensions to progressive liberalism, is strictly a straight-laced, 9-to-5 kinda guy, the perfect conservative foil and
dimwit muse for the demonically mischievous Kelly.
Structurally, The Swinger interrupts the narrative frequently to offer some breathtaking, highly stylized montage
sequences (including one of the greatest pre-credits sequences of all time); either you appreciate these radical
editorial splashes, or you really have no business calling yourself a film buff. The Swinger also features, like its
ostensible prototype Bye Bye Birdie, high-energy dance numbers with great choreography, plus several winning
examples of breaking “the fourth wall,” a not uncommon trick during this time period but done brilliantly here.
Amongst several strong contenders, the infamous “body painting” sequence is likely The Swinger’s single greatest
set-piece, in essence a subversive attempt to sneak a full-blown sex orgy into a mainstream Hollywood film; in this
reckless conceit it succeeds wildly. Also worth noting is a montage of Kelly shopping at swanky Saks Fifth Avenue,
an adorable collage of still shots animated to show our heroine’s ability to effortlessly alternate between stunning
beauty and tomboyish charm.
After baffling and challenging and delighting it’s stupefied audience for 80 minutes, The Swinger ends on a
deliriously strange high note: after chasing each other around for a bit (with Ann-Margret riding her own
motorcycle!), the star-crossed lovers collide, dying horribly in a shocking, gruesome car crash. Just when the
audience is recoiling in shock from this traumatic calamity, the film literally rewinds and apologizes, stating that “it”
would never end a film in such a downbeat (or lazy) manner. Kelly and Ric end up living happily ever after, in true
fairy tale fashion, albeit within a post-modern meta-fable for a new generation.
It is no wonder that a film as “in your face” as The Swinger had trouble finding its rightful audience; some might
find its confrontational tone, arty editorial pretensions and shamelessly retrograde aspects just “too much.” But
others celebrate delicious cinematic anomalies like The Swinger, glorious exceptions to the rule which come along
so rarely, and are cherished with fierce devotion when they do. Like Lord Love a Duck and Beyond the Valley of
the Dolls, The Swinger is a unique cultural marker of its era, both reflecting and revising its predecessors in ways
memorable and uncanny.

-Rob Craig

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