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"There are both good and evil in crime, they're not seperate.",
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This review is from: Short Night of Glass Dolls [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The lifeless body of American journalist, Gregory Moore, is found by a cleaner in a Prague park. His body is taken to the morgue, but there's a problem, Gregory Moore is not dead. He can't speak or move, but he can hear and see everything that's going on around him. As he lies on a slab awaiting an autopsy, Moore desperately tries to remember the events that lead him to the morgue. He starts to regain his memories, and through flashbacks, we discover that his girlfriend, Mira, went missing. We follow Moore as he attempts to find out what happened to her, with the help of two fellow journalists, Jessica and Jacques.
Jean Sorel gives a good performance as Gregory Moore, he's likeable enough to really make us care about the character. Sorel is probably best remembered for his role as Pierre Serizy in Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour. The French actor had been making films in Italy for a while before starring in Short Night of Glass Dolls, the most memorable being Romolo Guerrieri's The Sweet Body of Deborah, Umberto Lenzi's A Quiet Place to Kill and a pair of Lucio Fulci films, Perversion Story and Lizard in a Woman's Skin. Swedish actress Ingrid Thulin is somewhat strangely given top billing in the film, she isn't actually in it all that much. She plays Jessica, one of Moore's fellow journalists who once had more than just a working relationship with him. I found her character quite interesting, she's helping Moore look for his missing girlfriend, but makes absolutely no secret of her desire to reignite their relationship at the same time. I assume Thulin was by far the biggest name in the film at the time due to her work in many of Ingmar Bergman's best known films such as Wild Strawberries, So Close to Life, The Magician, Winter Light, The Silence and Hour of the Wolf, which probably fully explains why she was given top billing. She appeared in another Bergman film the following year, Cries and Whispers. Barbara Bach is beautiful as Mira, sadly she didn't get much to do as she soon disappears. The real standout performance came from Mario Adorf as Jacques, Moore's other friend and journalist. I happened to watch this film the day after I watched a pair of Fernando Di Leo films, Caliber 9 and The Italian Connection. I thought he was also the standout actor in both of those films, there's something about him that makes him incredibly fun to watch.
Short Night of Glass Dolls was the directorial debut of Aldo Lado, and I love the way he chose to shoot this movie. I suppose the film is a giallo, but it comes off more as a political thriller than a murder mystery. A typical giallo tends to be very stylish, often they have several grisly murders and the music can be outlandish. This film is very slowly paced, the music score by Ennio Morricone is extremely subtle and the few murders that we do have are either virtually bloodless or happen off screen. It does of course have one of the main things that you'll see in gialli again and again, we follow a character as they attempt to solve a mystery, thus putting themselves and the life of those close to them in danger. The film came out in 1971, so having our main character appear dead when they actually aren't was quite a new idea in film back then, it's been used so often by now that newer viewers of the film won't be anywhere near as intrigued by it as viewers were when it was released. That isn't to say that the film isn't suspenseful because it most certainly is, the scenes of Moore lying on a slab completely unable to move whilst people are examining him are very suspenseful, and the final scene of the movie is pure brilliance and keeps the tension so high that I found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat. The screenplay was from the prolific Ernesto Gastaldi, some of his other writing credits are The Strange Vice Of Mrs. Wardh, Case Of The Scorpion's Tail, All The Colors Of The Dark, Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key, The Case of the Bloody Iris, Torso, Almost Human and many, many more classic Italian films.
The DVD from Blue Underground is up to their usual high standards, the transfer is very nice, the sound is absolutely fine, it's region 0 and will play on any DVD player and there's no subtitles. There's a couple of extras, a theatrical trailer, an Aldo Lado filmography and Strange Days of the Short Night - An Interview with Aldo Lado that lasts 11 minutes and is very interesting. We learn about how he meant for the film to reflect some of his political beliefs, the reason for the strange title and some of the problems he had with important members of the crew.
Short Night of Glass Dolls isn't the best giallo out there, but it's certainly one of more ambitious and different. The acting is good, the Prague scenery is beautiful to look at, the mystery is involving and there's plenty of tension leading up to the brilliant ending. I'd definitely recommend the film to fans of gialli and also to people that enjoy films like The Tenant which has a similar feel to it. I'd also recommend two other Aldo Lado films that he made soon after, Who Saw Her Die? which is much closer to a traditional giallo and a great film, and Night Train Murders which is basically an even more disturbing take on The Last House on the Left, which itself was a take on Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (not starring Ingrid Thulin).
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Initial post: 21 Jul 2014 15:03:00 BDT
Nelson Viper says:
This is a good one. Tried voting for Bug but there's a problem with the link.
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2014 16:06:28 BDT
This is one I'd even recommend to people that aren't usually keen on gialli, though I'm sure not many people like that exist. Thanks for trying to vote, you're not the first person to tell me that you're vote won't register, and then there's amazon removing helpful votes for some reason while leaving every negative vote intact.
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