Ewa Aulin’s eyebrow-raising career took her from sex star to school teacher. She’s known first and foremost as the eponymous heroine of Candy – a film so excruciatingly bad that it has acquired cult status with a small band of fans.
Ewa was one of a number of actresses to emerge from Sweden to become stars on the 1960s European-movie scene. Her compatriots included Anita Ekberg, Anna Karina, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann and Pia Degermark.
Ewa herself appeared in 17 films between 1965 and 1973. But Candy, her fifth, was the one.
Ewa Aulin is Candy
The first we hear of Candy and Ewa in the UK press is in the 27 November 1967 edition of the Daily Mirror:
THE girl who will have a film love affair with Beatle Ringo Starr was named last night. She is Ewa Aulin, an 18-year old Swedish blonde. Ewa, who was voted “Miss Teenager” in Hollywood last year, is to have the title part in “Candy” – Ringo’s first film without the other Beatles.
The movie is released in December 1968 in the US, and in the UK early the following year. The plot is neatly summarized in the 14 February 1969 edition of the Kensington Post:
“Candy” is the story of a beautiful young girl who can’t say no. She has a variety of sexual encounters with a number of bizarre characters including Marlon Brando as a guru, Richard Burton as a boozy Welsh poet, James Coburn as a surgeon, Walter Matthau as a super patriotic American Air Force general, Ringo Starr as a Mexican gardener, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson as a chauffeur and French singer Charles Aznavour as a burglar.
Forget the plot, that’s quite some cast!
The 19 February 1969 edition of the Daily Mirror has a lengthy review, the trajectory of which you can glean from this paragraph:
By the time 1969 staggers from the scene, the British Film Censor will have had to hack his way through a staggering assortment of movies from the downright illicit to the pantingly explicit. This may well be the year the screen caught fire.
Stylistically, Candy is a pure late-sixties spoof with its demented plotline, frenetic pace and caricature characters. It’s utterly absurd and designed to shock – though 50 years on it comes across as just coy and silly. It’s a sex comedy with pretensions that looks backwards and forwards – 1969 is a pivotal year in terms of censorship.
Looking backwards, there’s more than one thread that connects Candy to Barbarella (1968), Roger Vadim’s outrageous sci-fi fantasy starring Jane Fonda. Terry Southern, co-author of the 1958 novel on which Candy is based, is also responsible for the screenplay for Barbarella (though it must said that Candy lacks Barbarella’s chic fantasy).What’s more, Christian Marquand, Candy’s director, starred in Vadim’s Et Dieu… créa la femme (1956), Brigitte Bardot’s breakthrough movie. Both Candy and Et Dieu… are preoccupied with sex, but it’s all very frothy and light-hearted.
Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie (1969), by contrast, is both experimental and transgressive. It’s the first adult erotic film depicting explicit sex to go on wide theatrical release in the US. And it ushers in the Golden Age of Porn – the era in which films such as Deep Throat (1972), The Devil in Miss Jones (1973) and The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976) will gain a good deal of publicity, attract big audiences and even garner some critical approval. (The advent of the videocassette player, with its potential for private viewing, will spell the end of this particular era.)
More generally, Candy and Blue Movie are manifestations of the sexual revolution of the sixties in the US and western Europe. With “the pill” giving women a way to avoid pregnancy, sex has become more socially acceptable outside the strict boundaries of marriage (homosexuality is also coming out from the shadows, but that’s another story). And that in its turn is part of the counter culture – the social and political backlash against “the establishment”. But while Blue Movie has bona fide counter-culture credentials, it’s debatable whether the same is true of Candy, in spite of the pseudo-intellectual discussion in an article in the 3 October 1969 edition of the Marylebone Mercury:
We spoke mainly of revolution, other films and the cultural scene in our McLuhanist age, but we did agree that Candy had been mistreated.
I asked Marquand if he would rather have stuck closer to the original ultra-erotic book.
“The formula of the book wasn’t so important to me because personally I’ve progressed beyond the erotic phase,” he said. “I don’t feel any repression about sex – just that it’s natural. …
“Of course. If sex were recognized as a means of free expression then I don’t see how on earth you could have eroticism. For me, eroticism is more of a game of mind than a game of body.
“So in Candy there isn’t such a thing as a game of mind. It’s very stylised. It’s there and she takes it for granted. The types she meets, remember, are schizophrenics and suffer from hang-ups.” …
The satire on American society is fairly pointed, but incidentally the sexual mores of civilisation generally are shown to be somewhat shaky. Candy acts as a catalyst-cum-confessor, a touchstone who reveals quite poignantly the ills of man.
It’s Marquand’s message, something he’s imposed on the Terry Southern-Mason Hoffenberg original sex-classic: erotic urges need to be liberated, repression causes capitalism – repression – perversions, America – perversion – schizophrenia.
This theme is, of course, in the mainstream of revolutionary doctrine, from Reich to Marcuse, that freedom of expression can only come about when we get rid of all sorts of repression, especially sexual repression. “I fight repression,” Marquand told me earnestly, “but I march with my movies.”
Ewa Aulin, movie star and teacher
Eva Aulin’s take on the movie is more straightforward:
Candy is a moral lesson about a pure, childlike girl who is taken advantage of by selfish, amoral people. She just wants to make people happy. If everyone were like Candy, the world would be a better place.
For her performance in the film, Ewa is nominated for a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. In the event, the winner is Olivia Hussey for her performance in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
Ewa is, of course, a delight to behold – the phrase eye-candy inevitably springs to mind. Certainly no ice maiden, rather every inch a kooky baby doll. She’s ever so fetching with her short, slinky dresses and her long, blonde tresses. And, above all, her wide-eyed innocence.
It’s no surprise that her path to stardom has been via winning a couple of beauty pageants: Miss Teen Sweden in 1965 and Miss Teen International in Hollywood the following year. Immediately prior to Candy, Ewa starred alongside Jean-Louis Trintignant in two giallos: the pop art-style Col cuore in gola (With Heart in Mouth, 1967) and the avant-garde La morte ha fatto l’uovo (Death Laid an Egg, 1968).
While filming Candy, Ewa Aulin secretly marries British musician-turned-filmmaker John Shadow, who casts her in his one and only movie, Microscopic Liquid Subway to Oblivion (1970), which seems to have taken its cue from its title and pretty much disappeared without trace immediately after it’s made.
After Start the Revolution Without Me (1970), an unmemorable period comedy, and a handful of Italian giallos and sex comedies, Ewa Aulin has had enough of the movie business and, apparently her husband. The couple divorce in 1972, and soon after she embarks on a new life. In 1974 she marries Cesare Paladino, a builder, enrols at university and settles down to become a teacher and mother (she already has a son, Shawn, by John Shadow). One of her two daughters, Olivia Paladino, will become the partner of Giuseppe Conte, 58th prime minister of Italy.
On her Facebook page, Eva now describes herself as an artist.
Want to know more about Ewa Aulin?
Head for the usual suspects: Wikipedia and IMDb. If it’s pictures rather than information you’re after, take a look at Ewa Aulin’s Facebook page. There’s a full-length copy of Candy on YouTube but unfortunately the aspect ratio is wrong.