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The Mysterious Marie Forsa

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Marie Forsa (Maria Lynn) was a cute little blonde Swede, slender and pert but with subtle dark rings under her eyes that give her a vaguely doomed look. She looked for all the world like Helen Slater's little sister.

Her claim to fame is that she was the greatest erotic film actress. She was not an accomplished dramatic actress, but for simulating sexual emotion she was peerless. She made sex an arresting narrative, combining pleasure with desperation and emotional anguish

She also had the most unusual adult film career of any actress. She starred in several XXX films, yet there is (almost) no hardcore footage of her anywhere, a situation that's led to much controversy and misinformation about her career.

Forsa's career resembled that of Christina Lindberg, Sweden's reigning nudie queen at the start of  Forsa's career. Lindberg appeared in at least two films distributed with explicit close-up inserts of other people's bodies but Lindberg never went all the way. Hardcore sex would have been a career killer – it still is. "Always leave 'em wanting more." Sex film fanciers are faced with a paradox–they always want more, but are more entertained when given less. The most precious commodity in adult film is the sense that you are seeing something special or precious.

If I were to guess, I suspect that she promised her mother she wouldn't do porno films and then lived up to that in a hyper-literal sort of way. There is a lot of footage of her actually having sex on camera, but the angles are soft-core. She did, however, do a couple of hardcore photo layouts for Swedish porn magazines, though wearing a wig and not identified by name. (The most explicit images I've ever seen of Christina Lindberg are also from Swedish porn magazines wearing a wig and unidentified, but are not XXX)

Marie Forsa was not a sexually reticent actress. In fact, she was arguably the least reticent film actress ever. Forsa often engaged in real sex on camera, even when it wasn't required—performing sex acts with her co-stars on camera that she knew would be cut out of the final film. Maybe she just wanted to have sex with them in front of an entire film crew... few people become film stars without an exhibitionist streak.

Boil it all down and here's what we can really say: There is no released motion picture footage of her mouth or vagina explicitly shown with a penis in it where you can also see her face. Still photos? Yes, a few. And tons of footage of her fucking up a storm, but at non-explicit angles.

In BUTTERFLIES she did hardcore acting with the understanding that it would be trimmed down to softcore. Then for American adult theatre release the same movie was edited back up to hardcore using inserts of other women's bodies. How weird is that? Why would any director work with an actress who exerted such inconvenient control over her image? Because she was that good.


Notes on what's what in her films:

BUTTERFLIES: (Comments refer to the Seduction Cinema original edit BUTTERFLIES we carry. That disc also includes the XXX "grindhouse edit," but there is no Forsa footage in the grindhouse version that's not in the original.)

The bedroom scene with Eric Edwards towards the beginning of BUTTERFLIES is perhaps the hottest sex scene ever filmed, and  clearly real. There are many clear shots of actual intercourse -- tasteful and subtle, but still undeniably Forsa and undeniably explicit. So what's up with that? The evidence is so plain that the only reason anyone has ever convinced himself that they aren't just flat-out doing it is that the original release of BUTTERFLIES is supposed to be softcore. These comments from an interview with Eric Edwards shed some light:

"My first European movie was for Joe Sarno. In Butterflies I starred with Harry Reems and Maria Forsa. I found it a great joy to be flown to Europe, put up in a hotel and get paid to have sex also. Those were soft core films though I couldn't help myself with Maria. I did it hard anyway. Maria and I had a fling. It was wonderful. She was just my style. Whenever I'd go back to Europe, we couldn't help ourselves. We screwed everywhere - out in the bushes, in the Jacuzzi, anywhere we could, even in dangerous places where you could get caught such as in a public pool where people could walk in any time. We'd do it five or six times a day. Those were my good ol' days."

So she was indeed an uninhibited woman who had sex on camera, but pretended she didn't for career reasons. (Forsa's sex scenes with Harry Reems later in BUTTERFLIES also seem to be real, but less obviously so.) Edwards' comments also explain why that scene in BUTTERFLIES is so incredibly erotic. Keep in mind, "soft core" has had a thousand different definitions over time and geography. BUTTERFLIES is a hardcore film by American definitions, but was a soft core film by the regional definition Sarno was working with in 1975 Sweden. It is so rare for an actress to have an unfeigned  sexual response on film... ironic that one of those few instances may be in a "soft core" film.

BEL AMI: Forsa gets top billing in this lovely XXX movie despite being the only person not doing XXX. She was a star! She and Reems were probably really having sex in BEL AMI, though. There's a shot in their first sex scene that almost has to be Forsa hardcore, but just showing her body, not her face. Plausible deniability again. (Like FLOSSIE, BEL AMI includes one of the bizarre "mouth double" shots that were almost a Forsa hallmark... it is very rare to see body-double inserts of fellatio because the actresses face is central to the shot. But at least two Forsa movies include such shots.)

MOLLY: She definitely challenges the boundaries during one of the lesbian scenes, but in 1970s Europe reticent Sapphism probably wasn't considered hardcore.

FLOSSIE: The body doubling in Flossie is outrageous. In the fellatio close-ups in the first sex scene, you see the girl's entire face at times, so how could that be fake? Well, it is! It's an audacious manipulation of the fact that when you cut to a quick hardcore shot there are things people look at first whether they want to or not. Describing a woman's face from two seconds of fellatio is like identifying a gun-waving bank-robber's face. Everyone looks at the gun first. Towards the beginning of the first decadent orgy scene there's a shot of a girl reclining on her right side with her head to the left of the frame, and hers is the face in the aforementioned close-ups. No doubt. Ahlberg had the bravado to cut in facial close-ups of a porn extra that looked a little like Forsa. He did exactly the same thing in BEL AMI, though the shot is only in the American edit (The one we carry on DVD) The girl-girl manual stimulation scene seems so real and maybe with good reason. I used to assume that the juicy vulva close-ups were body double inserts using the girl in the "blind-folded boyfriend" scene that the boyfriend eventually ends up with. But having seen a magazine picture of her in a similar pose, it think those close-ups might be her. Call it a definite maybe.

IMMORAL TALES: Walerian Borowczyk's IMMORAL TALES may be the best narrowly erotic film ever so it's fitting that Forsa has a cameo. Ironically her five or ten seconds of screen time in this soft-x masterpiece might be her most anatomically explicit film appearance. During the Countess Bathory story Forsa appears (un-credited) for a few seconds as one of a mob of 20 girls attacking the Countess, whose pearl necklace is ripped from her throat. Forsa puts some of the loose pearls in her mouth. She spits the pearls into her left hand, takes one large pearl with her right hand, and presses it against her private parts in close-up. The visual evidence is strong and since Forsa was little more than an extra there's no compelling reason to use a body double.