Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970, Dario Argento)

Continuing on with the master Dario Argento is his first film as director and writer. A giallo film that I actually watched about 6 months ago and decided to revisit after watching the other two films in his "animal trilogy", Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Cat O' Nine Tails.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage follows american Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) visiting Italy with his girlfriend. Shortly before he is supposed to go back to the United States, he witnesses someone dressed in a black hat and trench coat try to kill a woman in an art gallery. The doors are locked but he still manages to save the woman's life. The police confiscate Dalmas' passport to make him stay in the country since he was the only witness. They believe that over time he will be able to remember important pieces of the attack that he has blocked out. Sam himself starts trying to solve the crime and finds himself the next target.

Argento proved that he was definitely capable of writing and directing an effective murder mystery his first time out. There are many great camera tricks used in this film (one of the director's trademarks), including lots of complete darkness and a POV shot of someone falling out of a window. The cast is great and the story moves along at a nice pace, with lots of twists and the usual odd characters that Argento is always good for (the scene with the painter was a little silly, but kind of creepy and gross too). Very good example of a classic giallo and a film I would recommend to those unfamiliar with Argento.


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