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A Doppia Faccia

Double Face
Das Gesicht im Dunkeln

Italy / West Germany 1969
produced by
Oreste Coltellacci, Horst Wendlandt for Colt Produzioni Cinematografiche, Mega Film, Rialto
directed by Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton)
starring Klaus Kinski, Christiane Krüger, Günther Stoll, Luciano Spadoni, Annabella Incontrera, Sydney Chaplin, Gastone Pescucci, Barbara Nelli, Margaret Lee, Ignazio Dolce, Carlo Marcolino, Claudio Trionfi
story by Lucio Fulci, Romano Migliorini, Gianbattista Mussetto, screenplay by Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton), Paul Hengge, based on the novel by Edgar Wallace, music by Nora Orlandi (as Joan Christian)

Rialto's Edgar Wallace cycle, Edgar Wallace made in Germany, Edgar Wallace: The German-Italian co-productions

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Rich businesswoman Helen Brown (Margaret Lee) died in a horrible car crash - and of course, a trail leads to her husband John (Klaus Kinski), as their marriage hasn't been going great, and he has inherited her whole business. But somehow his pain feels authentic so not ven Helen's father (Sydney Chaplin) suspects him. And of course, at first there's no reason to suggest the crash was anything but an accident (only the audience knows better of course). Enter Christine (Christiane Krüger), a young woman who breaks into John's home to have a shower and abode for the rainy night, but John, despite being physically attracted, throws her out - but she steals his keys so forcing him to go after him. She lures him to a club where an adult film is shown, starring Christine and a masked woman - whom John believes to be Helen, judging from the rings the woman wears and a characteristic scar on her neck. Christine assures him though that the film was only made a few days ago, long after Helen's death, but he soon becomes convinced that Helen's still alive. So he starts to track her down, first by paying a huge amount to the guy (Gastone Pescucci) who produced the video, then by trying to question everyone involved. But he comes up with dead end after dead end. And when he shows the movie to Helen's father in order to convince him she's still alive, the rings and scar have miraculously disappeared from the woman in the film - and slowly, everyone starts believing John has gone insane, and who knows, maybe because he has killed his wife. But he's determined to find out the truth, no matter how ugly ...

 

Now one has to admit, the screenplay of this movie is incredibly far-fetched, even for a movie of the German Edgar Wallace series or an Italian giallo, while many plot twists announce themselves beforehands and sometimes stand in the way of the story rather than add to it. But frankly, all that doesn't matter much, as the film has two absolutely redeeming values: One's the directorial effort by Riccardo Freda that's as stylish as ever, that puts its emphasis on atmosphere and suspense, and glosses over the slightly iffy story rather beautifully. The other is of course Klaus Kinski in a rare good guy role, and he's actually pretty awesome as a man driven by despair, and makes his character very relatable.

Basically, not really a masterpiece, but if you can forgive the script and go for the look and feel, and/or you have a predilection for movies of its ilk, you might find yourself liking this one.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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