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 have 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
Old US VCI Home Video edition
and an even older Italian VHS
This film is NOT the first Giallo movie as Mario Bava
made that one in 1962 but it's probably the most famous and influental
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
And, in the enclosed Koch Media text & pictures
booklet a Hans Langsteiner also states this. Dario Argento had read
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
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
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
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 physics 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
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
only german subtitles and i think i've seen him in other Koch Media
Interviews: 1. with Dario Argento 18 minutes in italian
with german subs, same as the Blue Underground 2005 one "Out of
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