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L'Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo / Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Handschuhe

Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Italy/West Germany 1969
produced by
Salvatore Argento for Seda Spettacoli, CCC-Filmkunst
directed by Dario Argento
starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Eva Renzi, Enrico Maria Salerno, Werner Peters, Mario Adorf, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Raf Valenti
Music by Ennio Morricone, conducted by Bruno Nicolai

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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One night, American author in Rome Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses a murder attempt in an art gallery from the outside, & as he rushes in to help, he is caught between automatic sliding doors. When the police finally arrives on the scene, & the intended victim Monica Ranieri's (Eva Renzi) life can be saved, inspector Morresini (Enrico Maria Salerno) decides to confiscate Dalmas' passport to keep him in the country as an important witness - even Dalmas himself admits he has seen something, but is unable to point his finger at it) - or even suspect. But the murderer it seems, too, believes that Dalmas knows more than he is willing to admit & makes a failed attempt at Dalmas' life. To clear himself of any suspicion as well as to get his passport back, Dalmas decides to take up investigations of his own, which lead to little at first, as the victim's husband (Umberto Raho) even refuses to let him speak to his wife. So Dalmas decides to concentrate on other victims attributed to the same killer (it seems that the Roman police has a serial killer at its hands), & soon, after visiting an antique dealer (Werner Peters), he comes up with a naive but haunting painting that seems to be essential for the case. But at the same time, the killer also carries on with his killings, & not only that, he boasts about it on the phone to the police and hires another killer to make a second attempt at Dalmas' life, & when that fails, phones Dalmas to threaten his girlfriend Julia's (Suzy Kendall) life. When the phonecall to Dalmas & the one to the police are compared, though, they all make a surprising discovery - the 2 calls came from different people ! And then, there's this weird sound on Dalmas' tape that noone in the police department can identify. So Dalmas gives his tape top a friend for further investigations while he himself decides to visit the painter (Mario Adorf) of above mentioned picture to make a surprising discovery: the painting was based on fact, it portrays a girl that was raped & almost killed 10 years ago ! His friend though comes up with even more conclusive evidence, the sound on the tape is the mating call of a rare Siberian bird, of which only one specimen exists in all of Italy, which is kept in the zoo ... directly below the appartment of the Rainieris. The killer, aware of all these new developments in the case tries to kill Julia as a warning but fails. So all our heroes plus the police soon pay a visit to the Raieri's household, where the husband readily admits to being the killer only to throw himself out of the next window. But then why does Julia disappear all of a sudden ? Dalmas manages to follow her trail through a maze of streets, even finds her, only to suddenly realize he has entered the very art gallery where he witnessed the murder-attempt at the beginning of the movie, & the victim of that crime, Monica Ranieri, turns out to be the assailant, who ended up at the wrong side of the knife rather by accident, & now she goes after him, being shot by the police only in the nick of time. The explanation for all this does indeed lie in the painting of the crime from 10 years ago, when she was indeed the victim & afterwards did identify with her attacker rather than herself as the victim - or so the friendly psychiatrist at the end of the movie tells us.


This movie is both the first movie by former scriptwriter Dario Argento as well as an early & seminal example of the Italian giallo-genre (= Italian horror-serialkiller-whodunits, which were extremely popular in the late 60's, early-to-mid 70's until eventually spawning the much more simplistic American slasher movies). Surprisingly for a man who earned his living by writing screenplays up to then, Dario Argento's style proved to be very visual rather than driven by the story (which in fact, while by no way bad, is rather mediocre & standard giallo-fare). What would set Argento apart from other directors though is that he does not rely solely on a stylish & fashionable direction but tries most successfully to incorporate his style into scenes of suspense & horror - which is already visible here & would permeate a large part of his body of work.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


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