Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ewa Aulin, Roberto Bisacco, Charles Kohler, Luigi Bellini, Monique Scoazec, Enzo Consoli, Vira Silenti
Written by: Tinto Brass, Pierre Lévy, Francesca Longo, based on a novel by Sergio Donati
Directed by: Tinto Brass
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 03/18/2013

Deadly Sweet (1967)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Without a Clue

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This giallo was an early effort from Italian director Tinto Brass, who later graduated to fetishistic softcore porn like Cheeky. Already it's clear he has no interest in things like plot or suspense, but his infallible taste in women is in place. The astonishingly beautiful, 17-year-old Ewa Aulin is here in her first lead role after winning Miss Teen Sweden, and a year before her fifteen minutes of fame in the notorious Candy (1968). She plays opposite the terrific Jean-Louis Trintignant, though it's not clear exactly what his Bernard is supposed to be. Is he a private eye? An underworld thug? A writer? An all around shady character? In any case, he stumbles into an office in the back of a club to find a dead body on the floor and the beautiful Jane hiding in a corner. He decides to help her, though the various visits to a colorful rogues' gallery and the rambling interludes in-between don't exactly add up to much. Brass throws in a monotonous, repetitive soundtrack and a lot of self-consciously arty pop culture imagery (Batman, Alfred E. Newman, The Beatles, Humphrey Bogart, Lon Chaney as the Wolf Man, etc.). The movie deliberately rips off bits and pieces from Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up (1966) -- including a sensual striptease in a photography studio -- and doesn't disguise the fact. It even mentions Antonioni by name. The wandering narrative is easily distracted and it's hard not to wonder if Brass wouldn't rather be somewhere else. On the plus side, the use of colors is effective.

DVD Details: Cult Epics released the 2009 DVD, with a fine, anamorphic, restored transfer (the director's cut, of course). The 76 year-old Brass provides a commentary track. We also get a gallery of lobby cards and a trailer.

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