Thursday, September 10, 2009

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

I watched Four Flies on Grey Velvet in february for the first time in ten years, so I felt it was time to watch it again and see if it holds up as well as I remember it. It does. So if you don't like people talking good about this movie, just read something else. What strikes the most is how this movie predates a lot of Argentos later tricks in Deep Red, Tenebrae, Opera and the rest. You have everything here, ultra-stylish - from crimson curtains, cameras that seems attached to the knife or the victim, ultra-close ups, fantastic use of slow-mo. That and together with the comedy, it's a veritable cabaret of Argentos trademarks. Except the gore, but on the other side: either Bird with the Crystal Plumage or Cat o' Nine Tails had gore in them. He just saved that to Deep Red. 

Michael Brandon plays a musician, Roberto, who are framed into kill a mysterious man in a black coat. Someone else is starting to terrorize him and his girlfriend (a magnificent Mimsy Farmer) and soon more and more people are getting killed around them. Roberto goes to his old friend, the hippie "God" (Bud Spencer) for advice and hires The Professor (Oreste Lionello) to check his house. When nothing comes out of that, he hires the very gay detective Gianni Arrosio (Jean-Pierre Marielle) who quickly finds some clues... something that the killer dosen't appreciate!

Oh, this is so good. I ranks this the second (maybe third) best movie that Argento has directed. He obviously got tired with the traditional giallo and spiced it up with more bizarre character, some comedy that actually works and some of the finest murder-set-pieces of his career. The murder in the park - only thing missing is blood, and if you dosen't count stuff that you have something fantastic. The killing in the villa - with the flashing knife, the head that bounces down the stairs. The chase in the subway that ends with a murder and some touches of black comedy. All this with Morricones sound-landscapes and music in the background.

As with Deep Red and Tenebrae this is also filled with complex sexuality, personality and some really interesting gender bender-attitudes. From the beginning Argento wanted Roberto to be gay, and could have been the first (and only, so far) gay-hero in a giallo. That never happen, but Argento toyed with gay-giallo even after that. I hope he makes it happen sometime. Instead with get the campy detective, which could be seen as a stereotype - and he his - but for once we have smart, funny and interesting gay-stereotype. Another character is this guy, and I can confess know that if I was a young hot italian in the seventies, I would have choosed looked like this:

Okey boys and girls. That's all. Take it easy now and remeber that Argento want's you to feel good, be good and act slightly perverted. 


mamoulian said...

Many seem to have complained a lot about the quality of the disc - some scenes or frames missing or sound busted up or what...? I would like to buy this edition if there's no real mistakes in it, because there won't be a better one out there soon...

Ninja Dixon said...

Mamoulian: It looks FANTASTIC. There's a couple of seconds here and there, who's not there because of print damage. Nothing important - though the cry-babies of course think it's important. I've seen both versions, and there's nothing interestning to see.

The sound is okey, not perfect. It's a bit "thin" maybe. Nothing that irritates me.

Sure, but you can buy the bootleg-edition from Germany with lesser picture quality and with the missing frames included.