For having stolen the British Crown Jewels, masterthief Kriminal (Glenn
Saxson), the villain with the skeleton costume, is to be executed - but
Scotland Yard inspector Milton (Andrea Bosic) actually facilitates a plot
of him to escape. Why?
Because with Kriminal dead, the Crown Jewels
would be lost. A few days later, the Crown Jewels are sent to inspector
Milton by Kriminal, but not so much out of gratitude but because he can't
possibly sell them.
Kriminal has already laid his eyes on some other
loot though, the Tradex diamonds, which are shipped to Istanbul soon using
a pair of identical twins, Inge and Trude (both played by Helga Liné),
with one acting as bait while the other actually carrying the goods.
Somehow, Kriminal finds out though that Inge is the real McCoy, so he
drugs her at the airport, steals her case where the diamonds are hidden -
and finds it empty.
Kriminal though is not only a baddie in a skeleton
suit but also a handsome, playboy-like guy, so he seduces Lady Gold
(Esmeralda Ruspoli), posing as a gigolo, the owner of the diamonds who was
to oversee the shipment, and learns that she was tricked out of the stones
by her boyfriend Alex (Ivano Staccioli) and the twins. Having learned
that, Kriminal kills Lady Gold rather ruthlessly, and Trude as well after
getting more information out of her.
Istanbul: Kriminal gets friendly
with Inge posing as a jeweller's playboy son, and he persuades her to
steal the key to the safe deposit box containing the diamonds from Alex to
exchange them for the fakes Kriminal provides. This way, nobody would find
out the stones are gone until much later, and by that time, Kriminal and
Inge could be long gone. But of course, Alex has long suspected something,
so he makes an (unsuccessful) attempt on Kriminal's life and takes extra
care hiding his key. Also, he calls inspetor Milton onto the scene, and
Kriminal has more than a few problems staying out of jail. Then though he
tricks Alex into using acid instead of shaviong lotion while shaving, upon
which Alex is hospitalized, and his face hidden behind bandages. Then he
lures Alex to a certain beachhouse where he shoots him and burns away his
entire face with acid. Then Kriminal dresses up as Alex, complete with
bandages, and makes sure everyone thinks the dead man is he himself. And
he calls Inge to the beachhouse to take the rap - long enough at least for
him to go to the bank and empty the safe deposit box. Then he ditches the
Alex costume, knowing everyone will now look for Alex, believing Kriminal
is dead. For a while that works, but eventually, inspector Milton finds
out the truth ... and suddenly Kriminal finds himself a man on the run,
and what's worse, he loses the diamonds while getting away.
crossing the desert on foot, Kriminal stumbles upon a blonde (Mary Arden)
in a convertible and hitches a ride - only to find out she was actually
planted there by inspector Milton, who has the last laugh in the end.
this film is significant for being the first of the fumetti neri (~
immoral Italian comicbooks) to be adapted for the screen - and the film
has quite some things going for it, too: It's very decently paced,
light-footed in diretorial approach, and it's elegantly shot (though not
half as elegantly as Mario Bava's fumetti neri-adaptation Danger:
Diabolik). However, at the same time, it's also a less than
perfect film, as its story is over-constructed to the point of being
ridiculous, while all the characters lack any depth or dimension - which
means one cannot really care for anyone, good or bad, which makes the
action kind of empty reduces it to the machinations of the screenplay.
all said, Kriminal is still a likeable testament to 1960's Italian pulp
cinema - far from perfect, to be sure, but likeable.