Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In short: The Perfect Crime (1978)

Original title: Indagine su un delitto perfetto

After the head of large, multi-national corporation dies in a toy plane explosion, his potential successors are desperately shuffling to get themselves into a good position for the election for the next company president. The potential candidates are race driver Paul De Revere (Leonard Mann), Sir Arthur Dundee (Joseph Cotten) and Sir Harold Boyd (Adolfo Celi), and they are just all too willing to transform the expected round of metaphorical backstabbing into some actual backstabbing.

First to go is Paul. Somebody sabotages the breaks of his car, causing the guy to collide with a truck, drive off a cliff and burn to difficult to identify parts in his sports car - it's like three deaths for the price of one.

Sir Arthur for his part has a fantastic plan of how to get rid of Sir Harold: Arthur sics his own lover Polly (Gloria Guida) on his rival to poison him during sex. Let's just hope it'll happen fast enough so that no one will kill Arthur by frying his pacemaker with some sort of microwave gun.

Sir Harold has his own problems anyway. His wife Gloria (Janet Agren) is the spouse who actually owns parts of the company, and she has proof for some of his shadier dealings she uses as protection against any murder attempts, so he has to keep her happy. Which is easier said than done with a woman like Gloria who really likes to rub her husband's nose in his helplessness - and in her affairs with various young men, including Paul.

Scotland Yard's Superintendent Hawks (Anthony Steel) - who just happens to be a cousin of Paul's - has quite a job in front of him.

Giuseppe Rosati's The Perfect Crime belongs to the sub-genre of the Italian giallo that has its fun with portraying the oh-so-decadent lives of the rich and mean in a cross of an especially mean-spirited soap opera with an exploitationed-up landhouse mystery in Agatha Christie's style - though it has to be said that the Italians' class politics are much less abhorrent than Christie's ever were.

The Perfect Crime takes up a perfect middle ground in its chosen sub-genre. It's not as unpleasant and misanthropic as some of its brethren and seems more interested in playing up the fun factor. While all the characters are abhorrent in one way or the other, Rosati's film's not wallowing in all the details of their abhorrence as much as it could, so there may be a few scenes of rich people being satisfyingly mean to each other, a bit of nudity by Guida and Algren, but nothing that should shock anyone not writing for Christian movie review sites. Rosati puts a higher emphasis on the mystery content of his movie, and has visible fun with the convoluted construction of his doubly convoluted plot, inventing some perfectly silly murder methods of the type that don't make much sense but are fun to watch especially because they don't make sense.

Of course, it's all a very slight affair, only mildly stylish directed, and most definitely not the sort of film that'll leave one with any new or interesting insights into humanity nor even just the evils of the rich. But - also of course - there's nothing at all wrong with a movie about unpleasant people doing fun yet murderous things to each other for profit being slight, as long as it actually is fun. And fun, The Perfect Crime is.


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