Tuesday, March 1, 2011

521. L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo/The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Running Time: 98 minutes
Directed By: Dario Argento
Written By: Dario Argento, from the novel The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown
Main Cast: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi


The above line is what I said to myself when I was finally able to pin down where I'd seen Tony Musante before. I received "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" from Netflix (via mail...Yes I'm back to getting movies in the mail) because I feel that since my return I've been lacking the viewing of some foreign films. I skimmed through the book and this one caught my eye and it wasn't a terrible choice.

Sam Dalmas (Musante) is an American writer living in Italy. Walking home one evening, past an art gallery, he notices a man dressed in almost all black attacking a woman with a knife. He runs to her rescue, but is somehow trapped between two glass walls. The assailant runs away and the lady lies bleeding on the floor, until Sam catches the attention of another passerby and has him alert the police. The police arrive, the woman is diagnosed with only flesh wounds and the grilling on Sam begins. His plans to leave Italy in just a few days are stubbed out, as Inspector Morosini (Salerno) alerts him that he needs to stay around, because not only is he a key witness, but they also can't rule him out as a suspect. With some free time on his hands, as he's unable to leave the country, Sam begins to conduct his own investigation into, what has been brought to his attention as a string of unsolved murders. With only a few obscure clues to go by, Sam begins to follow up the stories of the previous two victims, as well as the third, un-murdered victim that Sam helped save. With the help of his girlfriend (Kendall), the two take us (the viewer) on a wild goose chase to uncover the identity of the murderer.


The reason I refer to it as a "wild goose chase" is because I wasn't too thrilled with the big "super shocking" ending. But, like other wild goose chases, the chase is a lot of fun, that is until we realize that a wild goose lies at the end. I had a lot of fun with this film and it was actually the type of gritty, Hitchcockian style movie that I'm usually very interested in. I thought Argento did a great job constructing a really frightening atmosphere and trying his best to give us little hints to throw us off the scent of the real killer. In fact, I thought that was a stroke of brilliance on Argento's part. I loved how he would throw little allusions, and make us think things that didn't end up being true. For example: There's one scene where Inspector Morosini asks Julia - "Haven't we met before?", to which Julia responds with a very awkward "No, you're mistaken." It's those little oddities in the dialogue that make us think things that end up being nothing, but make our mind constantly work to try and figure this film out before it ends and I loved going on the chase right along the main character.

In the end, the killer is finally revealed and although I didn't predict it whatsoever, I wasn't too thrilled and instead of giving an excited "NO WAY!", I gave an unenthusiastic "Oh...". It seems to me that Argento was going for the most surprising ending possible, even if it didn't make the most sense. He didn't care about maintaining the sensibility of his picture, but just wanted to get that big shock out of us, which he totally missed out on from me. In the end, it is explained that Monica (Renzi) had been attacked in a park and when she saw a painting that depicted almost verbatim what happened to her, she snapped inside and began to go a bit nutty. It is then explained that her husband, in order to cover up her murders, began to commit murders himself, so in essence, there were really two murderers. In my opinion...lame! This movie even comes complete with a couple of plot holes, like who was the ex-prizefighter who tried to kill Sam by chasing him through the streets of Italy? We can assume that he was hired by the killers, but it's never fully laid out for us and provides us with more killers than we need to have on hand for a murder mystery. So in conclusion, I had fun throughout, but was let down by the ending.

RATING: 6.5/10 I could see that rating rising, but for now we'll stick with it. There's no denying that this IS a good movie, it's only the ending that I have issue with.


March 1, 2011 2:31pm

1 comment:

  1. OOoooh, Dario Argento.. one of those directors I would never have touched without this list.. 'Suspiria' was the first one, and I was glad to go there.. Another one I felt I didn't need, but.. Well, there is a certain strangeness that is interesting, but I struggle to get past the nastyness...


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