Monika from Stockholm falls in love with Harry, a young man on holiday. When she becomes pregnant they are forced into a marriage, which begins to fall apart soon after they take up residence in a cramped little flat.
Legendary exploitation distributor, producer and showman Kroger Babb, after purchasing the American rights to Ingmar Bergman’s Summer With Monika (1953, Swe.) (aka Sommaren med Monika), cut out approximately 33 minutes of the film, dubbed it into English, replaced the musical score with a jazzy one by Les Baxter, and renamed it to ready the film for the drive-in circuit – it was now known as Monika: The Story of a Bad Girl (1955).
Babb sensationalized the repackaged film with racy advertisements and taglines such as:
“She’s 19 – and Naughty but Nice!”
“Everybody’s Talking About Monika!”
“The Devil Controls Her By Radar!”
It was one of the first foreign-language films that made its brief nudity a major selling point for US audiences, and helped create the stereotype that Swedish women were sexually liberated and enjoyed swimming in the nude. [Note: An earlier Swedish film that created the same sensation was One Summer of Happiness (1951, Swe.) (aka Hon Dansade en Sommar) – see above.]
In the story, a young couple (two disaffected rebel teens), both from working class families in Stockholm, ran off to escape their tawdry lives and to experience a brief idyllic romance one summer at the beach on an island in an archipelago:
Harry (Lars Ekborg), a 19 year-old
Monika (18-year-old Harriet Andersson), viewed as very straightforward, aggressive, earthy, loose and immoral
Everything was sensationalized about their relationship, since they had only one controversial scene of nudity (skinny-dipping) and love-making in the beautiful, sunny outdoors. However, things turned less than idyllic when Monika became pregnant, and the two were forced to marry and live in a very claustrophobic apartment – before they parted ways.
Director: Ingmar Bergman