Saturday, August 13, 2011

In short: Delitto D'Autore (1974)

Professional heiress Milena Gottardi (Sylva Koscina) has just returned to her provincial home town after having spent three years in the big city to hide her marriage to Marco Girardi (Pier Paolo Capponi) from her aunt Valeria (Wilma Casagrande), who has her hand on the family's purse strings. Valeria, you see, doesn't approve of Marco at all, and seems to have made it clear that this disapproval could make one a very skint heiress.

Shortly after Milena has arrived, threatening things begin to happen. Someone follows Milena everywhere and records her conversations; possibly the same mysterious person makes threatening phone calls; somebody leaves a pair of black gloves in Milena's bed.

Eventually, Milena is kidnapped and held for ransom, her aunt murdered and a possibly valuable painting stolen. It's clear to the police there must be more than one criminal, seeing how at odds kidnapping someone but then killing the person who is supposed to pay a ransom would be, yet knowing that and actually arresting anyone are two different things.

Delitto D'Autore is one of the more obscure giallos you can stumble onto, and can therefore only be found in a beat up print with colours so faded you'd think it was filmed in 2010.

Not that I'd expect a better print to be the film's saving grace - there's too much wrong with it to make it salvageable that way. Delitto's main problem is a disturbing lack of everything that makes a giallo worth watching: acidic commentary on the upper classes, stylish visuals, a sense of madness or the air of a dream all are absent. What's left to see is some random nudity, lots of scenes of cops talking in a room, and even more scenes of director Mario Sabatini just waving his hands pretending to do anything beyond somehow filling up the running time.

Where the good films of the genre swagger and wink and flash their stuff, proud of their sleaze, their style and often their absurdity, Sabatini's Delitto is tepid and timid and just sort of there, not even able to get any interesting performances out of a perfectly serviceable cast (Luigi Pistilli and Krista Nell are also in it, and both pretty much wasted).

The film's transformation from an exceedingly boring example of the giallo into an exceedingly boring example of the police procedural might come as a surprise (possibly the only one you'll experience watching it), yet it is not the sort of transformation that leads anywhere besides, perhaps, to a soundly sleeping viewer.

All in all, Delitto D'Autore is one of those films that languish in obscurity because they just don't have anything of interest to offer.


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