The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (L'Uccello Dalle Piume di Cristallo/ Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Handschuhe/
El pajaro de las plumas de cristal/ L'oiseau au plumage de cristal/ The Gallery Murders, 1970)

German Koch Media Blu-ray & DVD Digibook edition

A really nice sleeve done in the 1800-1900's turn of the century Art Nouveau style - Jugend in Sweden
I do like German Koch Media .... and German DVD/Blu-ray editions in general as the sleeves most often do look cool

Tony Musante as american writer and/or journalist Sam Dalmas locked in between gallery glass

Text below written 2016-12-10


OK, everyone must've seen this classic by now and i've surely seen it 25-30 times by now, first in the 1980's on a VHS copy
from a Japanese laserdisc and on a US VHS and then on an Italian VHS without english subtitles in the 1990's (see pic below).
My first DVD watch was the US VCI one early 2000's and a slightly better edition was released by US Blue Underground
around 2005 or so. This German release was the 1st time i've seen this Masterpiece on a Blu-ray, and there are a whole lot of
Blu-ray releases from an array of companies around the world. Everyone should've a blu-ray copy of this landmark film.

I will not speak much about the story below as i'm sure almost everyone visiting this site has already seen the film. Instead,
here follows some loosely connected remarks and some ramblings about the film.

US VCI Home Video edition Italian VHS

This film is NOT the first Giallo movie as Mario Bava made this in 1962 but it's probably the most famous and influental one
as the Italian-Spanish film industries went into a Gialli film making overdrive for 5-6 years after The Bird, until the world wide
audiences got tired of black gloved murderers, and jumped on another psycho killer train - The much beloved Slasher film.
For 10 years or so we only wanted to see teenagers get slaughtered at summer camps, in a college or at a university.
Then there were almost no horror at all for some decade or so, besides in Japan, until the found footage craze struck and the
Retro horror film wave exploded with retro- just about anything really, retro-slasher, retro-grindhouse, retro-gialli, cabin in
the woods horror, home invasion horror, WW2 nazi zombies horror, all types of creature horror including mermaids etc etc.

It's Argento's first directed film and also the first in his Animal trilogy and it was a joint Italian and West German production.
In the promo material and in the trailer the German producers boldly states the following lie:

Nach einem roman von Bryan Edgar Wallace ... Wallace spannung based on a Bryan Edgar Wallace novel ... No, Noooo,
it's NOT, it's based on a 1949 novel by the great pulp fiction, crime and sci fi writer Fredric Brown - The Screaming Mimi

A 1955 Bantam pocket book edition (Cover art by Charles Binger)

And, in the enclosed Koch Media text & pictures booklet a Hans Langsteiner also states this. Dario Argento had read the
1949 novel but hadn't obtained the rights to film it, so he changed some things, as the settings from Chicago to Rome, our
protagonist from the bummed up alcoholic Sweeney to a young and good looking writer, Sam Dalmas, and the clue to this
Murder Mystery from a macabre figurine/statyette to a macabre naivist painting.

Why did the Germans call this giallo Wallace spannung/suspense then? Answer: The Krimi

That's the German (or West German) crime movies that preceded the Gialli movies with a couple of years. Very popular in
Germany and with only some of them released in english versions abroad. I'm no expert in the Krimi genre though but they
were made from appr. 1960 and some decade on. The krimi films i've seen has been somewhat macabre but not as brutal
and stylish as the italian gialli films and often with annoying comedy elements in them, with that comedy relief guy we all hate.
Krimi films, you could see them as early gialli films maybe, so the German producers weren't totally wrong when marketing
the film this way in West-Germany. And, then maybe the Swedish "Mannekäng i rött", the stylish 1958 crime movie from
Arne Mattsson could be called a precursor to the krimi?
The Krimi movies were based mostly on the writing of Edgar Wallace, and then on his son Bryan Edgar Wallace's.

US Blue Underground DVD

The Screaming Mimi was filmed "the first time" in 1958 in a late Film Noir B version directed by Gerd Oswald and with
Anita Ekberg in the main role as a burlesque stripper/dancer with some problems, yes, changed in Argento's version to the
art gallery women played by Eva Renzi.
US Columbia Pictures DVD has released a bare bones but fine DVD of this early
adaption and you can read more about it on my Film Noir & Pulp Fiction page.

There's another connection between the 2 films besides the novel, Gerd Oswald - Mario Adorf .
German born US director Oswald returned to Germany (West-Germany) and made the 1959 noirish teenage delinquency
drama "Am tag als der regen kam" where Swiss actor Mario Adorf played a main role (Adorf playing the artist in The Bird.
As usual these old german films are released on DVD or Blu-ray in Germany but without english subs. Very frustrating, as i
would love to see many of them, especially the Krimi one's.

The Gallery with modern (and spikey) art owned by the Ranieri's

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante .... he was so full of himself says co-actor Eva Renzi in the extras) an american writer in Rome
walks by an art gallery at night and witnesses an assault on a woman made by a figure dressed in black. The woman, co-
owner of the gallery Monica (Eva Renzi) survives the knife attack, but there has been 3 murders of women in Rome the
last month and the police thinks the perp is the same. As this is a giallo Sam sleuth around by himself and puts himself
and his gorgeous girlfriend Julia (Suzy Kendall) in peril.
Here are Enrico Maria Salerno playing the crime inspector Morocino, and he's fine, Umberto Raho as Mr. Ranieri, Renato
Romano as Sam's friend, Mario Adorf as an eccentric artist, Reggie Nalder as a yellow jacketed ex-boxer assassin,
Werner Peters as a homosexual antique shop owner and The Grey Crowned Crane as Hornitus Nevalis.

The Bird ? Yes, the supposedly North Siberian bird is a fake one. It didn't look very arctic to me but very crane-ish so i
googled a bit and found out it was an african bird, a Grey Crowned crane, (but we've cranes here in Sweden breeding
up and above the polar circle in the summer, so i may be wrong).
Yeah, great work, huh? I felt very smart BUT, when looking at IMDB someone had already wrote that. Probably some
thousand other film nerds have already checked that up?

Some other Trivia that i noticed:
1. The Chase scene with Musante and Nalder in the Bus garage: The bus headlights are turned on lighting up Sam and we
can clearly see a yellow jacketed man sitting in the bus driver's seat. Sam runs away and 3-4 seconds later max. Nalder
has used some unknown quantum physiscs to travel in space from the seat to stand in front of Sam shooting at him.
If not, there were 2 ex-boxers with yellow jackets in the bus garage ?

2. The Mercedes attack: The Giallo killer dressed in black drives a dark Mercedes and runs over a policeman and then
try to hit Sam and Julia who look at the car and then tries to run away from it. Strangely the Police show NO interest at
all what sort of car the black figure drove OR if they saw some or the whole of the registration number. Bad police work

Suzy "Bird-Torso" Kendall

As usual everyone seems to prefer their favourite gialli whiskey - J & B and the 4th murder victim has an J & B ashtray at
her bedside.When the 5th victim played by Karen Valenti looks up the staircase in her apartment house there seems to be
a face at the top looking down at her, is it Dario Argento ? It's very vague so it's hard to say, maybe it's the murderer
looking down? The following elevator murder was copied by Brian De Palma in his great "Dressed to Kill" in 1980.

Everything clicked in the making of this film, with the crisp and beautiful cinematography from the accomplished Vittorio
Storaro and the fantastic soundtrack from Ennio Morricone. That La-La-La-La childish but somewhat unpleasant chant,
macabre and foreboding of evil, and maybe Goblin was inspired by this when doing the ST to Deep Red. La-La-La-La.
The Mario Adorf scene was cool, he's always great, with Sam visiting the naivist artist, and the paintings used was very
interesting and it's a pity the real artist of these strange but fascinating paintings hasn't been mentioned anywhere as i
remember, not in texts or in commentary tracks ... but i could be wrong (maybe Alan Jones och Kim "Nightmare movies"
Newman mentioned it in the old Blue Underground commentary track?)

The Koch Media Digibook edition

Blu-ray 96 minutes version in widescreen 2.35:1 and with english audio DTS-HD MA 2.0 (or italian ditto but without english
subs, only german subtitles, for the germans there's a german dub too). Extras on the blu-ray are german, italian and english
trailers, TV spots and a fine Bilder galerie with 82 pics. Also, there's a commentary track from Dr. Marcus Stiglegger in
german without any subtitles, but he talks slow and articulates well, luckily, so many will understand some of it.
(DVD is a shorter 93 minute version with ditto as above ratio and audio options, and i haven't seen that)

The 3rd disc, the Extra DVD has got a:
Featurette "Schwarze Handschuhe" 32 minutes (Koch Media, 2015) with italian film expert Fabio Melelli talking in italian with
only german subtitles and i think i've seen him in other Koch Media discs extras.
Interviews: 1. with Dario Argento 18 minutes in italian with german subs, same as the Blue Underground 2005 one "Out of the
Shadows", 2. with Vittorio Storaro 10 minutes in italian with german subs, same as the Blue Underground 2005 one "Painting with
Darkness", 3. with Ennio Morricone 7 minutes in italian with german subs, same as the Blue Underground 2005 one "The Music
of Murder", 4. with Eva Renzi 11 minutes and in english even though she's a german, same as the Blue Underground 2005 one
" Eva's Talking" and 5. with Mario Adorf 30 minutes in german without any subtitles

Interviews: Eva Renzi was interesting, very bitter but funny in a dark way (1944-2005) and she must've died after doing this
interview, only 61 years old, in lung cancer says IMDB. She thinks the role as the psychotic murderer killed her film career
and she's no fan of the film for sure. She tells us that Argento didn't give any personal direction at all and it was up to her own to
portray the maniac (which she did well). Well, that's no surprise as we all know Argento has never cared much about performance
of the actors, he's a visual director. Sometimes due too luck or individual skill there has been also good or great acting performances
in his films as Jessica Harper's one in Suspiria.
Mario Adorf, aaaaaaah ..... Nooooo, he's a Swiss actor and talks in german in an interview with poor sound. I like him and would
really have wanted to understand what he says here about his film making career. He was great in his Fernando Di Leo movies

 

 

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