Montenegro (Dusan Makavejev / Sweden-United Kingdom, 1981):

The caged ape behind the opening credits might be Rheinhold’s, on the soundtrack Marianne Faithful describes other monkeyshines to come: "She could clean the house for hours or rearrange the flowers / Or run naked through the shady street screaming all the way." Thus Dusan Makavejev composes his diary of a mad housewife, a gallant joke about a Carole Lombardian dip in a Scandinavian household. The American heroine (Susan Anspach) comes to reject the tranquil control of her Stockholm home, she wolfs down the family’s supply of fried schnitzel and, turned down by her sleepy hubby (Erland Josephson), blithely starts a fire in the boudoir. A "brain expert" (Per Oscarsson) is brought in to diagnose her, but what she yearns for are fewer befuddled patriarchs and more chaos. A mix-up at the airport literalizes the "pearls and pigs" of the film’s subtitle (the hausfrau’s string of baubles versus an immigrant girl’s porker in a blanket) and sends Anspach on her way to the merry anarchy of the Zanzi Bar, a hangout for Yugoslav proles where cheating at cards gets you a knife in the forehead. Guided by a horny, boozing scrabbler (Bora Todorovic), she glides through a welter of mattress-smashing humping, shovel duels, sex shows, and communal singalongs about how fuckable she is, until she’s ready to shed her fur coat and embrace the visceral -- embodied by the sexy zookeeper (Svetozar Cvetkovic) who tests the limits of her abandon. "They’ll never believe this at the Women’s Club!" A Balkan wallflower’s (Patricia Gelin) onstage pas de deux with a toy tank-powered dildo and Oscarsson’s rich, Carl Jung-as-Edward Everett Horton turn are just a few of the deviltries in Makavejev’s libidinous circus, which, in addition to setting the stage for Emir Kusturica’s slapstick barnburners, builds towards the screen’s most good-natured slaughter of familial order. With Lisbeth Zachrisson, Marianna Jacobi, James Marsh, John Zacharias, and Lasse Aberg.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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