Montenegro (1981) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Montenegro, AKA Montenegro or Pigs and Pearls, is a Swedish comedy that scores high on "off-beat energy." In other words, it is just plain strange. For some, including me, that is a good thing.

Marilyn Jordan (Susan Aspach), an American, is married to a rich Swede who prefers making more riches to doing anything with his wife and two kids. Her father in law, a man in a wheel chair who fancies himself Buffalo Bill and is advertising for a new wife, also lives with them. She feels neglected, and that she is coming apart. If only she had trusted those feelings and done something about it! One night when her husband refuses sex, she lights the bed sheets on fire. She makes schnitzel for breakfast, then eats all of it before the family can get to it. Later, she pours poison into their new dog's milk dish, and then lets the dog decide whether to drink it. Clearly, she has more than one screw loose. Her husband brings in a shrink.

Her husband is scheduled to leave on yet another business trip, and she decides to go with him. She has trouble at the airport when security officers discover hedge clippers in her purse, hence detain and search her. While in security, she meets a young Yugoslav girl, Patricia Gelin, who gets her involved with a whole community of Yugoslavians who run a club in Sweden, complete with explicit stripping and bootleg liquor. To call the immigrants eccentric would be a massive understatement.

That's enough setup. If this appeals to you and you haven't seen it, it is well worth a rental.
The film claims to be based on a true story. Maybe, but much of the film is rather improbable. Then again, West Side Story is based on Romeo and Juliette, but the two are not all that much alike. It is in English, and has a passable transfer, the original trailer, and a few cast bios. This film is certainly not for everyone, but if you like the offbeat, this has it. And the ending is worth the watch alone.


There is plenty of nudity.

  • Susan Anspach shows full frontal in a long shot taking a shower, and breasts in a sex scene. 
  • Patricia Gelin shows everything performing at the strip club with a vibrator mounted on a radio controlled tank
  • Lisbeth Zachrisson shows bush in an after-sex scene
  • Marina Lindahl shows one breast.

Scoop's comments in yellow.

This movie is a domestic nihilist black comedy, meant to be a surreal Strangelove-like look at the brain-numbing effects of middle class life. Susan Anspach looked great as the bored American housewife married to a Swedish millionaire businessman in Stockholm. She falls in with some crazy Yugoslavian immigrants, and takes a walk on the wild side. It's every bit as nutty as Tuna suggested, but it does have some heart and, as Tuna suggests, some off-beat charm to it. It includes a memorable erotic scene in which a young exotic stripper does a routine with a radio controlled dildo. (It's strapped to a toy vehicle.)

This director, Dusan Makavejev, should have made famous movies, but did not. He had great talent, and this movie, despite its eccentricities and inconsistency, showed flashes of tremendous ability at the very highest levels of the craft. At the time this movie was lensed, Dusan was a 49 year old man who had already been making films in Serbo-Croatian for a quarter of a century, one of them a significant art house success (W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism). He followed this movie with two English-language efforts, "The Coca Cola Kid" and "Manifesto", which were not masterpieces, but were not bad at all. Then his career just sort of petered out, and he never did deliver a great English language movie for us to remember him by. I suppose he got into the international game too late in life.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen, but letterboxed

He drifted back to Europe, made some more Serbo-Croatian films, and had no credits at all after 1996. The IMDb says he's now teaching at Harvard, or at least he was a while back. He would be 72 now (2004 as I write this.).

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

  • It was nominated for the Palme D'Or at Cannes, losing to the Polish film, Man of Iron

The People Vote ...

  • No box office data is available except for Sweden, where it sold 86,000 tickets. (Not that bad in a country with eight million people.)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "Defining the genre as quirky dark comedy, the proper score is C+. For those who like the truly odd, this delivers. Others will find nothing of interest."

Return to the Movie House home page