I like this giallo,
not as good or perfect as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage maybe
but it has got something to it.
It's uneven with some uninterested acting from a
seemingly bored Brandon, some strange scenes with comic relief
involving our protagonist's hobo friends or a postman, some plot holes
but also with some stylish scenes as the early
drumming sequence, the masked man, the park, the girl in the cupboard,
the detective's chase, the car scene at the end.
It's unusual and a bit oddly fascinating and you will watch it again,
guaranteed, as i have been doing over the years.
This film was Dario's lost giallo for decades and
Luigi Cozzi explains why in the extras interview. Mya Communication
released a DVD in 2009 but that edition had some problems to it and
then in 2012 there were excellent releases both
in the UK from the good people at Shameless and in Germany from the
ditto good people at Koch Media.
It was never officially released either on a VHS or a DVD until 2009,
but i remember seing this for the first time on a
Dutch VHS in the early 1990's with a legit looking sleeve and a good
quality print, but probably this was a bootleg then.
Then ..... ta-ra-ra-ra-ra (trumpet sounding joyously) ..... something
absolutely unique happened here in Sweden, a once
in a lifetime occurrence when the huge Dario Argento fan Ronny Svensson
showed it on our Channel 5. It must've been
in the middle of the 1990's something, and i remember taping it. He
also did some interview with Dario.
This german edition has got an english and italian
audio in DTS-HD MA 1.0 but with only german subtitles, so i chose
english audio option (which i would've anyway as the english audio
dubs often sounds best in 1970's genre films).
An opening text explains that due to poor storage conditions some
small parts of the film has been damaged and that some
scenes therefore has been added from other source material. These
scenes are not many and amounts to some minute in
total and these scenes have got italian audio without english subs
(but with german subs though) in this edition.
It didn't bother me too much but it includes some explaining from
the murderer at the end why the perp became a perp.
Nothing surprising as we already has seen that someone in the film
has spent it's childhood locked into an mental asylum.
Yes, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage solution again, teenage years
in mental asylums produces homicidal maniacs.
This film gets to me everytime. At first, just after
a viewing i think "oh, oh, that wasn't very good was it"?
After some time
i start thinking about it, many of the scenes has stayed in my head,
the masked one in the theatre, the poor woman in the
park, the poor detective finally managing to find a clue in one of
his cases and the "poor" murderer meeting a terrible fate.
It's uneven but has got scenes with visual power and a great soundtrack
from Ennio Morricone.
And, something rare in an Argento film, with an actually pretty sensual
scene in the bathtub between Michael Brandon and
Francine Racette (who later married Donald Sutherland according to
Luigi Cozzi). Racette who meets the murderer in one
of the most impressive scenes of the film, the cupboard one.
Warning for the disturbing arabian (Saudi?) execution scene though
with the head-chopping that plagues Brandon's sleep
all through the film. A Nasty nightmare and i do hope that this scene
is staged and not for real?
The atmospherical park scene with the housemaid (played by Marisa
Fabbri) is brilliant and ends in a murder we don't
get to see too much of, instead we see a young couple at the other
side of the park wall listening to her death cries.
Poor woman ... again. I felt sad for many of the victims in this film,
the detective, the housemaid and even for the the killer.
According to the co-script writer and Living Italian Horror Encyclopedia,
Luigi Cozzi, the park scene was inspired by the
Cornell Woolrich novel Black Alibi (1942). Yes, Woolrich is my favourite
crime writer of all time ...
Michael Brandon plays the musician Roberto Tobias
who lives with his beautiful rich wife Nina (Mimsy Farmer) in Turin,
and he's stalked by a mysterious man dressed all in black and he goes
through the whole film with the same slightly worried
look on his face. There's ZERO chemistry between him and his wife
and they act like strangers to each other, almost as
stylized characters in some tableau. As in so many gialli films this
stiff acting only heightens the films qualities of strangeness
and disturbing atmosphere, and their marriage obviously is bad as
he gladly fucks his wife's visiting cousin (Francine Racette).
Bud "Carlo Pedersoli" Spencer plays the
"strange" friend of Roberto, maybe a homeless hobo living
in a shack at the river
(the Po river?) and there's another hobo too, called the professor
.... and the trio meets at a Coffin Convention ... What?
Strano. Who are these guys and how does Roberto know them? Is it comic
relief? Well, somehow this just adds to the
off-kilter atmosphere of this film i mentioned above. It's a fascinating
brew for sure.
The homosexual private detective played greatly by Jean-Pierre Marielle
do find a clue to the identity of the killer and he's
killed in a toilet for his troubles. But this occur after a great
chase scene in the Metro (filmed in Milano) .... and maybe, just
maybe this scen did inspire Bill Lustig to the Metro chase scene in
Maniac which also ended in a subway station toilet ?
Well, he's likeable and you feel sorry for him, finally after botching
up all his former cases (hundreds) he finally solves a
case after doing some fine sleuthing, and then he suffers such a cruel
fate. As i said, i feel sorry for every victim in this film.
Another scene, when the housemaid Amelia (Fabbri)
makes a call from a phone booth and Argento's camera follows the
telephone cables out of the booth, through the wires in the air and
finally dives into the heart of phone station, that could be the
one that inspired David Cronenberg to the phone booth scene in Scanners?
Some uninteresting Trivia: The unfunny comic relief postman (Gildo
Di Marci) played the unfunny stuttering pimp in The Bird.
Flavio Mingozzi is not playing a cop or a taxidriver in this film,
here he's a record studio technician or producer.
Roberto has an LP with Juicy Lucy propped up against the wall (1st
LP on Vertigo 1969; great progressive rock group with
singer Ray Owen who later made the astonishing album Ray Owen's Moon
on Polydor, yes, i'm an old record collector).
The Koch Media Digibook edition
Blu-ray 103 minutes version in widescreen 2.35:1 and
with english audio DTS-HD MA 1.0 (or italian ditto but without
english subtitles, only german subtitles, and for the germans there's
a german dub too). I watched the Blu-ray version
Extras on the blu-ray are german, italian and english trailers, english
teaser and a Bilder galerie (88 pictures)
Disc Two: DVD version 99 minutes, same aspect ratio,
DD 1.0 audio english, italian, german audio with german subs
Disc Three: DVD with Extras -
1. Featurette: Der fall der vier fliegen (92
minutes) with the living Argento Encyclopedia Luigi Cozzi
in italian with
english subtitles who tells us about i.a. the distribution mystery,
about the inspirations for the script and that Fredric Brown's
The Screaming Mimi (the source for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage)
contributed also to this film in the role of Bud
Spencer's "God" Godfrey figure, Godfrey a homeless alcoholic
in the novel. The movie was filmed in Turin, Milano and
Rome. Cozzi is über great as a teller of memories from the filming
and we also get to hear an elderly Bud Spencer talk
2. Featurette: Autopsie einer fliege (28 minutes)
Film historian Antonio Tentori in italian with english subtitles
Both featurettes directed by Federico Caddeo, Koch Media 2012
A Booklet in the cover "Die Kosmologie des Schlitzens"
with pictures and text in german by Paul Poet