Thursday, 12 March 2020

Bedroom Mazurka (1970) and Corona

Off-List: Mazurka på sengekanten and a Corona update
I am writing this review on the evening where Denmark has officially shut down due to the Corona virus epidemic. The numbers of infected are increasing exponentially and there is a real fear we might get Italian or Chinese conditions. We may not personally be in danger, but we are very concerned for our elderly relatives. I will keep you updated here on the blog.

On such a note it seems almost obscene to review a light comedy, but frankly, this is exactly what you need in these situations.

Today’s movie is the second off-List movie for 1970 and the Danish contribution to my three picks.

“Mazurka på sengekanten” (”Bedroom Mazurka”) was chosen, partly because 1970 was not a great year for Danish movies and partly because it marked the beginning of a long string of similar movies in the seventies, making it culturally significant.

The new thing was that a dash of soft-porn was added to the sort of light, silly comedies that had developed through the sixties. Pornography had just been legalized and suddenly everybody thought this was this new awesome thing that everybody wanted. The resulting hybrid, the erotic comedy, would eventually devolve into sleazy and tacky excuses for producing and watching porn, but in 1970 this was still new and there is a remarkable innocence to this, the first movie in the series.

On the boarding school Krabbesøgård the current principal (Axel Strøbye) has been picked as the next minister of culture and so a new principal must be selected. The favorite for the position is the young teacher Max Mikkelsen (Ole Søltoft) who happens to be much liked by the students for his liberal principles. Only problem is that according to traditions a principal must be married or at least engaged and Max is… ahem… a virgin.

The students set out to help Max since the second in line for the job, a pedantic teacher known as “The Doormat” (Poul Hagen), is generally despised. Their task is to find a suitable girl for Max in record time. Also Max is digging into the subject, but being hopelessly ignorant and innocent his is a series of blunders.

It sounds silly and it sounds (and is) mainly as an excuse to get Max sexually involved with a lot of women, but I was surprised how funny it also is. The reputation of the series is pretty bad but in this first installment the comedy worked big time. Partly of course because of a stellar cast, Axel Strøbye, Poul Hagen and Karl Stegger are among the giants in Danish comedy, but also because it is really very innocent. The soft-porn elements are very soft indeed and it surprised my how little you actually see and how light it is. Sure, there are a lot of topless girls going around, but that is mostly for comedic effect and they are not anywhere as hard pumped as we are used to in mainstream movies today. Whenever the movie toned the soft-porn down it worked great, whereas insistence on making it daring resulted in scenes and elements that worked less great. For example I do not understand why most girls in the movie would wear flimsy shirts without a bra in regular, non-erotic scenes, whereas the under-stimulated Erna (Annie Birgit Garde), wife of the principal worked all the sexual references with wonderful comedic timing.

“Mazurka på sengekanten” is not a movie for children, but it is also not a tacky and cheap excuse to show skin. It is far more tasteful than American Pie and funnier too, but not something that could or should be made today. In that sense it belongs to a narrow pocket in time where this was possible and for that it is very special.

I would certainly recommend it. It is a solid laugh.


  1. Maybe someday ... This corona virus thing is so crazy and frightening. They just postponed two major music festivals and cancelled an important tennis here in the Coachella Valley. How many trillions of dollars will be lost to this thing? Stay safe.

    1. It is crazy indeed. This lock down is affecting everybody. We have cancelled a family birthday party in the weekend, the children are not in school and we are all supposed to work from home. So far the government is supporting all the companies and organizations suffering losses, but how long will that last? Just hope it will soon be over with as few casualties as possible

  2. Stay safe, my friend. I have a lot of friends and family who are immunocompromised, so I am worried about them, and the incompetence we have at the top is not helping matters.

    Please, even if you're not putting up reviews, update every now and then so we know you're still safe.

    1. You too, Steve. These are troubled times and nobody knows how the next few months will pan out.
      It is so important to isolate those in poor health and I have a feeling that the head start we got on this is the reason there are still so few in hospital considering the number of infected. Yet, it is too early to say. I must say that I am worried that The States have been very late in encouraging distance and isolation. It has the potential of a repeat of the disaster in Italy. The news from Italy are truly horrible.
      I intend to include a little corona update in all my reviews the next weeks and will keep an eye of for any news from you.
      Stay safe.