"Giallo" is an Italian word meaning "yellow," and is roughly analogous to the tern "Noir" (meaning "Black") used in Western film. Both Giallo and Noir are the worlds of pulp fiction, of dangerous dames and heroes in over their heads on the fun from desperate villains.
Tinto Brass's "Deadly Sweet" ("Col Cuore in Gola" or "Heart in his Mouth") is pure giallo fun, covering up a paper-thin plot (very loosely adapted from the novel by Sergio Donati) with a splashy veneer of 60s pyschedilia and pop-art inspired imagery. Director Tinto Brass was in his experimental phase, and "Deadly Sweet" is full of the innovative camera work that would appear later in films like Attraction (Nerosubianco) and The Howl.
The story begins at a party, where Bernard (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a French actor in town in London looking for work, has his eye on Jane (Ewa Aulin), a young, beautiful and rich girl who won't give Bernard the time of day. A little later at the same party, Bernard stumbles upon a crime scene, with Bernard's business contact dead on the floor and right at the feet of that self-same heiress Jane. Instead of turning her in, however, Bernard takes advantage of the situation to steal a kiss from Jane, then to pull her away promising to keep her safe and to uncover the real killers. That is the opening into a world of blackmail. Midgets and all sorts of wild things
A big draw for "Deadly Sweet" is the presence of actress Ewa Aulin. Aulin had won the title of Miss Teen Sweden in 1965 at age fifteen and later Miss Teen International in 1966. Catching the eye of film producers with her stunning looks, Aulin started her film career in 1967 with a supporting role in "Don Giovanni in Sicilia" and then her first feature at age seventeen in "Deadly Sweet." Aulin would go on the next year to star in the sex-comedy Candy with Marlon Brando and Ringo Starr, which remains a cult classic.
Brass also was clearly influenced by the comic book for "Deadly Sweet," as many of the double- and triple- split panel shots attempt to replicate the comic book format. This style has seen a resurgence in recent years, but started here first. Along with the split-screens, Brass' innovations include working with color, flipping occasionally to black-and-white for dramatic emphasis.
Although Brass is most well-known for his emphasis on the female form and movies such as Caligula, there is no real nudity to speak of in "Deadly Sweet." Ewa Aulin is beautiful and shown off effectively in white fishnet stockings and mini-skirts, but her naked body is never on display. Just as in her follow-up film "Candy" it is all about the tease of what is not shown.
Both lead actors, Jen-Louis Trintignant and Ewa Aulin, would re-team for the giallo "Death Laid an Egg" which is admittedly a better film than "Deadly Sweet" but in a different way.