Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Swedish Film Portrays Macabre Trip to Insanity

Cleveland Press June 11, 1964

A night watchman (Per Oscarsson) is a lonely man, a man who feels rejected by society. But in his dreams he is a man of importance, a man who is loved.

Lacking a flesh and blood woman, he steals a manikin from a department store and takes it back to his tiny apartment.

He props up his life-size Barbie Doll in bed, pulls up a chair and tells her what a great person he is. There is coffee and cake for two and pleasant conversation. He is amazed at their similarities in taste.

A hand moves, an eye-lash flutters. There is a sound. Look at that -- she's a real live doll!

LIPS OF FLESH and blood may be warmer than those of plaster, but they utter demands. She wants assurance of his love, she doesn't wish to be left alone, she wants a fur coat. In short, she's an ordinary woman.

As the watchman slips further and further into insanity he stays away from work, steals for his make believe inamorata.

Interruptions from the outside turn flesh and blood back to plaster. A fellow roomer discovers his secret and mocks him. The watchman begs her to speak, to prove her reality.

Enraged, he shoots the roomer and smashes the manikin.

After he disposes of the remains he returns to his room only to discover with horror that he can't escape the predicament.

Director Arne Mattsson has put together a film both gloomy and exciting. But it is a narrow line between the bizarre and the ludicrous, between the artistic and the sensational. Mattsson slips now and then.

THE DESTRUCTION of the manikin becomes unintentionally funny as he smashes away at an arm to get it into a suitcase, as he gropes for the rolling head. The love scenes are over explicit.

Mattsson is at his best in his moody camera work, in his building to a melodramatic climax.

Oscarrsson and Gio Petre, who portray the living manikin, are perfect in their roles.