Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Image result
The late Elizabeth Taylor plays Lise, a woman skittering on the edge of insanity in this elegantly crazy Giuseppe Patroni Griffi thriller. She's actually quite good as a middle aged woman who has gone completely over the deep end and is seeking a violent death as a kind of ultimate erotic fulfillment This is rather like an arty giallo which has numerous references to the urban terror which plagued Italy in the mid 1970s.  And what better place on Earth is there than Rome to escape to.... and die.  But his is not the Rome of LA DOLCE VITA, the city seems to take on the morbid quality of the main character, as if it were responding to her death wish. After all it's metropolis built on centuries of graves.

It has a striking piano score by Franco Mannino, is beautifully shot by Vittorio Storaro (LAST TANGO IN PARIS) and is edited in a compellingly nonlinear fashion by Franco Arcalli (editor of THE CONFORMIST). It took some courage from Elizabeth Taylor to play this role considering the perverse nature of this character and the harrowing final scene. Ted Rusoff dubs the thuggish Roman police investigator trying to untangle the complicated case. Andy Warhol has a minor role as a strange aristocrat, supposedly an English Lord, which probably wasn't too much of a stretch.

This film reminds me somewhat of Jess Franco's NECRONOMICON/SUCCUBUS (1967) and makes an interesting double bill with John Huston's adaptation of REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (1967), in which Taylor played the polar opposite of her character here.

I probably wouldn't have bothered to watch this but my friend Robert Guest insisted that I check it out and I thank him for sending a copy of the old US VHS, which is apparently uncut. Other versions, including the original US release, were trimmed according to the IMDB.  It's very difficult to locate an uncut version of this film in good video quality.

Based on a novel by Muriel Spark, which I haven't read, but there is a distinct feminist undercurrent as it examines the masochism of the main character within a male dominated social-political matrix. 

(C) Robert Monell, 2017