Monday, July 30, 2012

The Devil with Seven Faces (1971)

Don't let the giallo-esque title fool you, The Devil with Seven Faces is far from an murder mystery and yeah, I would say it's a completely different genre. The title might fool us, but don't get scared away from this pretty standard but well-made crime-thriller directed by gun-for-hire Osvaldo Civirani. He dabbled in every genre possible, from pepulm to erotic, but I think this was his only adventure into crime. Not a bad little movie either, but I'll get back to why it's bad and why it's not the best movie ever made either.

Carroll Baker is Julie, a normal girl trying to live a normal life - until suddenly several strange men is starting to stalk her, taking photos of her and behaving very badly. Thankfully she has two men to do the protecting, her lawyer Dave (Stephen Boyd) and her new boyfriend Tony (George Hilton). After a while they understand what has happen. Julie's sister Mary is accused to have stolen a million dollar diamond on London and other criminals thinks Julie is Mary! Soon her life is at stake and everyone around her lives more and more dangerous, and only Julie can bring back the diamond from her sister and make the terror stop.... or?

Or? Yeah, that's the key word in most Italian thrillers from the 70's and this is no exception. It actually has a form of giallo-esque atmosphere, which is also helped by the groovy score, but the movie itself is one of those twisty caper/heist-thrillers, but from a different point of view. This is a quite original take and the story more or less works by itself because the set-up and concept is so good.

The best thing with this film is of course the actors. Caroll Baker is always excellent and works fine in the lead as the lady in need, Luciano Pigozzi has a smaller part as a baddie but is always good. George Hilton, maybe a little bit on routine here - remember he made tons and tons of giallos and other crime-related films during the 70's and this was probably just one in the bunch, another paycheck - even if the Amsterdam-location must have been a nice addition to the job. What makes me really happy is the presence of Stephen Boyd. I had no idea he was in the movie and he's nice to see him so relaxed and cool - compared to all the big budget historical extravaganzas he made in Hollywood. He's a splendid actor, VERY underrated and fits good in this form of film. Like so many other former Hollywood actors who got older he did a lot of European movies during this time, but never became that big in Italy.

I wish I had more to say about The Devil with Seven Faces, but I don't. Well, yeah... the reason why it's not the best movie ever made is that everything smells like a gun-for-hire production. There's no personality in the production, like everyone was there to get their pay check and that's it. Even the action scenes, especially the car chase, is very sloppily made and relies mostly on speed-up footage of cars chasing each other, and it NEVER looks good. I can't imagine why they couldn't find another solution, or just spend some more time shooting the scene - angles could help a lot making it look faster and more dangerous. Now it's just point-and-shoot and it's crap.

Still, it's a good little thriller. It will not revolutionize your world and you might even skip it for more important titles, but if you find it cheap and trust my review, give it a try sometime - at least for good old Stephen Boyd's sake.


Giovanni Susina said...

I've been planning on seeing this because of Carrol Baker. I recently watched an Osvaldo Civirani spy film with Roger Browne last weekend, Operation Poker.

Anonymous said...

"which is also helped by the groovy score"

That´s what I like about old eurocrime, giallos etc....most of them had really nice soundtrack...I can understand why Tarantino keeps reusing the tunes, music in his films.

"at least for good old Stephen Boyd's sake."

I didn´t know who he was before your post...I suppose I should see this one because of him.

Good review....too bad the film was so bland.


Nigel Maskell said...

There is indeed little to say about this. It is a pretty low key heist caper. I personally find it quite endearing and love the locations: Amsterdam I believe.

Somethings didn't work as well as others and the eurocrime element lacked the pace or action of some titles in the genre but it is a film I have looked at a few times over the years so it certainly does something right.

Nigel Maskell said...

The score incidentally felt very familiar with a number of music segments like riffs on existing scores.