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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sweet Body of Deborah

Il Dolce Corpo Di Deborah
The Sweet Body Of Deborah
1970 Italy
D: Romolo Guerrieri (Girolami)
P: Sergio Martino, Mino Loy & Luciano Martino for Zenith Cinematografica, Flora Film & Lux CCF//St & Sc: Ernesto Gastaldi & Luciano Martino//DP: Marcello Masciocchi//E: Eugenio Alabiso//M: Nora Orlandi//Art D: Amedeo Fago//Costumes: Gaia Romanini//Makeup: Mario Van Riel//Color
Cast: Carroll Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart (Ida Galliani), Luigi Pistilli, Michel Gardinet, Renato Montalbano, Mirella Panfili, Domenico Ravenna, Valentino Macchi, Giuseppe Ravenna, and George Hilton.

Marcel and Deborah have recently wed and are on their way to Geneva, Marcel's home town. Once there, Marcel sees Philippe, an old friend who informs him about the suicide of Suzanne, Marcel's old girlfriend. They were in love back when Marcel was poor and she had lent him a considerable sum of money. Ashamed of the situation, Marcel left her and soon after met Deborah. Now that he's been reminded of his past, Marcel begins to be abusive to Deborah, causing them to move onto Nice. Once there, Marcel begins to find evidence that Suzanne may still be alive. Deborah, not able to take the strain, begins drinking and taking pills. Philippe shows up late one night in their bedroom and is shot dead by Marcel. He and Deborah bury the body and Marcel soon leaves town on business. The following night, Deborah sees that Philippe's grave is empty and he and Suzanne are approaching her in the darkness. Have they returned from the dead or is there something sinister going on with Marcel's disappearance?

After a very nasty divorce in the late sixties, Carroll Baker left America and made over 20 European films. THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH was her first with Jean Sorel, they would eventually make 7 films together before Baker returned to America in the late seventies. The film is densely plotted (much like A QUIET PLACE TO KILL, this one at least has nudity to offset the long-winded story) resulting in keeping the viewer off-balanced until the final scene. Like some of the Lenzi-Baker collaborations, DEBORAH relies on travelogue-like footage of Geneva and Nice to fill out the film's running time. However, there's no denying that director Romolo Guerrieri (real life brother of Enzo Castellari) pretty much set the stage for future films that featured a love triangle where characters are not what they appear to be. Plus, he has a cast that appeared together throughout the prime Gialli years from 1968 to 1975. Guerrieri's film reveals the time it was made in with many "Pop" art effects; especially when the characters visit a nightclub whose walls are adorned with enlarged comic book panels. Like other of his films (THE DOUBLE, RING OF DEATH), Guerrieri is obsessed with his character's past and always finds an innovative way to integrate flashbacks so that they have a lasting effect on their present day activities. Even after you have seen the film and know all the plot twists, subsequent viewings reward the attentive with new interpretations of characters and motivations.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Upperseven L'Uomo Da Uccidere soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai

This wonderful Eurospy soundtrack by Bruno Nicolai was issued by the SLC label in Japan on July 24 1997. It is currently available on Ebay for $153.05 plus shipping. Or, you can just download my copy at Upperseven Uomo Da Uccidere

More soundtracks to come so Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Devil in the Brain

Il Diavolo Nel Cervello
Italy-France 1972
D: Sergio Sollima
P: Bianca Lattuada for Verona Produzione (Rome) & Universal Productions (Paris)//St & Sc: Luigi Emmanuele, Sergio Sollima & Suso Cecchi D'Amico//DP: Aldo Scavarda//E: Sergio Montanari//M: Ennio Morricone//Art D: Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni//Costumes: Enrico Job
Cast: Stefania Sandrelli, Keir Dullea, Michelinie Presle, Tino Buazelli, Renato Cestie, Gaia Germani, Orchidea De Santis, Maurice Ronet, Giorgio Basso, Elsa Boni, Bruno Boschetti, Alberto Carrera, Giorgio Dolfin, Gabriella Lepori, Tina Maveri.

Oscar has recently returned from Venezuela to Italy where he hopes to re-establish his relationship with Sandra, a former lover. He is shocked to find her mental state has regressed to that of a child. After several frustrating attempts to discover what happened, he and his doctor friend Amedeo finally talk to Sandra's mother, the Contessa Claudia. She explains that Sandra's son, Ricky, accidentally shot his father Fabrizio only seconds before Sandra had returned home. The doctor visits Ricky in a convent for troubled boys and comes away convinced that Ricky was not responsible for his dad's death. Oscar becomes enraged at such information because he believes it then implicates Sandra. Since he is now beginning to re-establish his relationship with her, he wants nothing to come between them. Doctor Amedeo continues to uncover facts that lead him to the true murderer just as Sandra's life becomes threatened by said killer. In an eerie sequence that reenacts the original murder, Ricky appears and this time does fire the gun, saving his mother from the fate suffered by his father.

In past interviews, director Sergio Sollima has remarked how unhappy he was that this film was marketed by its producers as a Giallo. While it's true there is no black-gloved killer roaming the countryside racking up a huge body count, The Devil In the Brain does manage to keep one in suspense trying to discover who the killer is. In Sollima's defense, this film is unlike anything usually found in the genre as it features low key acting and beautiful cinematography that emphasizes the characters and their environment, rather than sensationalizing the crimes committed by the killer. Sandra Sandrelli gives an outstanding performance as the woman-child whose world has crumbled around her. Convinced her son is a little demon along with being stuck in a loveless marriage, you can certainly understand her character's wish to return to her childhood. The sad thing is that her son truly suffers for the sins of his father and yet it is he that ultimately sets things right. I can't think of any other Italian thriller where this occurs. Ennio Morrricone was fresh from his work on the Argento trilogy and contributes one of his greatest non-western scores. Kier Dullea is an unlikely hero for most of the running time, but his breakdown at the film's conclusion is truly harrowing. Just as Sollima took the western genre and made it his own, he succeeds at putting his personal stamp on the Giallo as well.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Devil Has 7 Faces

Il Diavolo A Sette Facce
Export Title: The Devil Has Seven Faces
Italy 1972
D: Osvaldo Civirani
P: Osvaldo Civirani for Cinescalation (P Manager: Graziano Fabiani)//St & Sc: Tito Carpi & Osvaldo Civirani//DP: Walter Civirani//E: Mauro Contini//M: Stelvio Cipirani//
Cast: Carroll Baker, George Hilton, Lucretia Love, Luciano Pigozzi, Daniele Vargas, Franco Ressel, Carla Mancini, Gianni Pulone, Roberto Messina, Maria Ricotti, Ivano Staccioli & Stephen Boyd.

After attending a late night party, Judy Harrison is attacked on the way home. Her twin sister Mary calls and tells her that she was involved in a diamond robbery and is now in trouble. Race car driver Tony Shane, a friend of Dave's meets Judy and is instantly attracted to her. When two thugs attack them at Judy's place one night looking for the diamond, they decide the criminals must be mistaking Judy for Mary. Judy goes into hiding and waits for Mary to send her the diamond for safe keeping. The owner of the house where Judy is staying turns up dead, yet no one but Judy saw the body. Tony goes to the retrieve the diamond from an out-of-town post office (his race car driving skills come in handy as he escapes the people trailing him for the diamond) only to discover it is a fake. He slaps Judy around and reveals he's in league with ones threatening her. He is about to beat the truth out of her when the original thugs show up and shoot him. SPOILERS AHEAD! 
They kidnap Judy and take her to an abandoned windmill where they plan to have a little fun before extracting the diamond's location from her. A wounded Tony reappears and wipes out the gang and is about to kill Judy when she runs him over with a bulldozer.

Here's yet another crime film hiding behind the Giallo label. The title of the film is totally unrelated to the goings on in this rather ordinary caper about the aftermath of a diamond heist. Carroll Baker is quite good as the put-upon-Judy (whom we eventually discover, is not what she appears to be) and like all of her Italian film appearances, she dubs her own voice which adds immensely to her performance. George Hilton's standard role of initially coming across as the hero of the piece, only to show his true colors before the film's denouement is in place for this one. Stephen Boyd may have not had much of a Hollywood career, but he never let that affect his European acting roles. Here he plays a lawyer, which automatically makes him appear guilty, that you just don't trust until the end, then you discover he's not so squeaky clean after all! Looking over Osvaldo Civirani's career as a director (his brother Walter always photographed his films), the dullness of The Devil Has Seven Faces should come as no surprise (Civirani began his directorial career in 1962 with the Mondo film, Sexy Proibito). I do give the producers credit for using the film's exotic location of Holland to good effect, as the climatic sequence that takes place in a windmill and is all the more effective for it. When it's all said and done, the deception involving the film's perceived genre versus its actual one, makes this effort a waste of time.