5.0 out of 5 stars His first and arguably one of his best
I really couldn't tell you why I have yet to watch every film in Dario Argento's filmography. A few years ago it was easy to claim ignorance of many of this Italian director's important works because it was often so difficult to find any of them in an uncut form. Fortunately, DVD arrived on the scene and salivating film fans with dollars to spend prodded numerous...
Published on Dec 12 2003 by Jeffrey Leach
3.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began...
Work number one by Dario Argento, this movie is also referred to as the original matrix to the Italian Giallo Movies. Check out the reason why. Excellent plot, good acting, sensational atmosphere, black gloves, hats and raincoats, knives, razors, screaming good-looking girls, sex traumas, violence, gore, and that flash, burnt in the protagonist's memory, which is the key...
Published on Oct. 19 2002 by Wildenbruck
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tense, great looking fun,
This review is from: The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (2-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Beautifully shot by Vittorio Storaro, this is a stylish and fun Hitchcock-like thriller. (To me it feels more Hitchcock than gaillo). But I can't put this in prime Hitchcock territory, since the underlying themes are more heavy handed, and yet shallower, and less care is taken with character, acting and storytelling than by Hitchcock.
There are some terrific set pieces, and lots of tension. but also logic holes big enough to drive fleets of trucks through, and acting that ranges from lifeless to over the top, and all the performances are dubbed (even the US actors post synced their voices).
Historically important and clearly influential on many later directors and films (from DePalma to 'The Shining' to John Carpenter), I still can't quite see this as the masterpiece a number of critics make it out to be. But it is certainly great looking, tense fun, and well worth seeing.
4.0 out of 5 stars A brillant debut!!!,
I saw this movie after seeing many other films from the master of horror Dario Argento and I was a little scared about this one but surprisingly I found it very interesting for a first picture from a new director. The cold colors, the calculating plot and suspense keep you into a nail bitting tension from the start to the end. The only bad thing from the movie is probably the english traduction but this is very often from foreign motion pictures. It`s a must for the fans of Dario but also a great thriller for the others.
5.0 out of 5 stars His first and arguably one of his best,
I really couldn't tell you why I have yet to watch every film in Dario Argento's filmography. A few years ago it was easy to claim ignorance of many of this Italian director's important works because it was often so difficult to find any of them in an uncut form. Fortunately, DVD arrived on the scene and salivating film fans with dollars to spend prodded numerous companies to start churning out any movie they could get their hands on to satiate the masses. It wasn't too long before practically every Argento film arrived on store shelves, with many of these releases being the uncut, unrated editions. Even Troma, the flagship of flaccid filmmaking, released a so-so version of Argento's "The Stendhal Syndrome." People outside of the world of Italian horror cinema have most likely never heard of Dario Argento, unfortunately. These days, more people are familiar with the director's beautiful daughter Asia than with the horror maestro himself. What a shame. Argento's films, at least the ones I have seen, are masterpieces of style injected with truly cringe inducing gore. And to think it all started in earnest with this engaging Hitchcockian thriller, "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage." Argento and his fans never looked back, but this is an apt starting point for those unfamiliar with this director's work.
An American reporter staying in Rome witnesses a truly shattering event one evening when he sees a gruesome assault takes place inside of an art gallery. Barred from interfering with the proceedings due to huge sliding glass doors, Sam Dalmas can only look on with horror as two figures, one clad entirely in black and the other a woman, struggle with each other over a very shiny knife. The person in black flees the scene of the crime, leaving behind the hapless woman with a knife wound to the abdomen. When Dalmas does his duty by calling in the police, his story leads the officers to cast a doubtful eye on the concerned American. The police insist that Sam stay in Rome until the investigation turns up some clues, much to the consternation of Dalmas and his pretty girlfriend Julia. It seems that Sam was planning to leave Rome, but all bets are off as more murders occur that the police suspect are linked to the crime seen by Dalmas. Moreover, Julia and Sam start receiving grim phone calls from an unknown person who almost certainly is the figure behind these crimes. Our hero is in a real fix, with his only supporters being his woman and a friend who works at a museum. At least the cops start to come over to his side as the bodies pile up, especially once they listen to those eerie phone calls. A unique sound in the background of one of these calls provides the break Dalmas needs to identify the killer he saw on that fateful night. The conclusion has more twists and turns than a cyclone.
"The Bird With the Crystal Plumage" helped inaugurate the era of the Italian giallo (Italian for yellow), so named because in Italy cheap paperback crime novels came with yellow covers. These are the films with the anonymous, black-gloved killers toting gruesome looking knives while stalking their mostly female prey. The crimes are often seen from the point of view of the killer, giving the audience the impression that they are part of the heinous murders. Argento plays the giallo for all its worth here, matching this disturbing technique with a great score by the inestimable Ennio Morricone and camera work rarely seen in the horror genre. The cinematography here is simply divine, with the director including a shot from the point of view of a man falling from a tall building and an ultra cool scene where the camera points at a lighted doorway from inside a darkened room. All these elements combine to make this film a taut thriller of enormously entertaining dimensions. Moreover, of the few Argento films I have seen to date, "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage" contains one of his most coherent plotlines.
Gorehounds might find themselves a bit disappointed with the lack of the trademark Argento gore (no sharp corners to bash a head against here!) in this movie, but the stellar camera work, truly creepy scenes of murder and mayhem, and the strong performances from Tony Musante as Sam Dalmas and Suzy Kendall in the Julia role more than make up for the 'PG' rating. Still, that rating made me wonder a bit about what the people at the MPAA were thinking when they viewed this picture. There is upsetting violence here, along with some truly disturbing scenes that hint at where Argento would go in the future. The way the killer caresses those weird looking blades (one of which, I am almost certain, appeared in a later Argento film called "Deep Red") and the participatory effect the audience feels during the killings makes you wonder how this movie got off with such a mundane rating.
The DVD version of "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage" is strictly bare bones: you get the film and a trailer, which is good considering its relative obscurity but could have been better. As others have said, the audio is quite muzzy at times and the picture quality isn't anything to write home to mother about. After viewing this picture and a couple of other Argento films, I must say I really enjoy how these movies mess with your mind. Just when you think you know what's going on, good old Dario throws another curveball. He does this in many of his films, but he does it here for the first time. What a joy it is to watch it today!
3.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began...,
Work number one by Dario Argento, this movie is also referred to as the original matrix to the Italian Giallo Movies. Check out the reason why. Excellent plot, good acting, sensational atmosphere, black gloves, hats and raincoats, knives, razors, screaming good-looking girls, sex traumas, violence, gore, and that flash, burnt in the protagonist's memory, which is the key to the solution (and what a solution!) to the entire plot. This is enough to recommend you the purchase of a DVD which, unfortunately, is quite disappointing. The video format is partly disturbed, the audio is unbelievably in mono and no extras are available rather than the theatrical trailer and (good choice) the original soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. But we're talking about a masterpiece, and I suggest this purchase anyway.
5.0 out of 5 stars Buon giorno, Mr. Hitchcock.,
By A Customer
*The Bird with the Crystal Plumage* is cult-fave Dario Argento's first movie. Horror fans have complained that *Bird* is too tame for their bloody taste; that it's for "completists" only. (Meaning, Argento fans should have it only to complete their collection, and others need not bother.) They're right, in a sense: we certainly don't swim through rivers of blood and gobbets of gore as we will later in Argento's *Deep Red* and *Suspiria*. This 1969 film explicitly tips its hat to *Psycho* -- and the Hitchcock oeuvre, generally -- without straying too far beyond the parameters of graphic violence that had been set by the earlier film. Hitchcock devotees will be familiar with the type of protagonist presented here: an American in Rome who becomes a witness to a murder, finds himself under a cloud of suspicion, is hunted by the real killer, starts an investigation of his own . . . you know the drill. (Tony Musante's inept performance is good for some chuckles. Though to be fair, he's Olivier compared to the amateurs Argento tends to cast in his films.) In any case, there's more to any movie than just blood & guts, all you horror fans out there. This movie has about 6 or 7 set-pieces -- Musante witnessing the crime while trapped within glass partitions like a bug in a jar; a chase through a graveyard for Rome's public buses; our hero getting literally pressed down by a collapsed sculpture that has spikes; the surprising revelations at the end; and especially the cloaked killer's attempt to carve a hole through a door using his murderous knife, in order to get at the hero's girlfriend -- ALL of which are worthy of the deepest admiration.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Debut From A Great Director!,
By A Customer
I am a big fan of Dario Argento's films, and "Bird" is rather different from his later works, but it still packs quite a punch. The story involves an American writer, Sam Dalmas, who witnesses an attack on a woman while he is staying in Rome. Sam thinks there is something that he missed during the attack. If he could just remember he will solve the killer's identity. Sam launches his own investigation, and puts the lives of himself and his girlfriend in danger in the process. Meanwhile the killer conitinues to carve up young women throughout the city. This film is an excellent mystery. The ending took me and everyone I've watched it with completely by surprise. Argento weaves an exciting story. Some scenes were very suspenseful and creepy. The acting was good as well. Especially from the three leads. The DVD is pretty well done. The widescreen transfer looks better I'm sure than it ever has before. The sound was alright, but the volume was a little low in some scenes. Nothing terrible though. Not many special features, but I thought that the seperate soundtrack was a great bonus. Just make sure you get the correct version of the dvd. Supposedly on the original copies the "bedroom murder" was edited incorrectly, and the sound was extremely low. The company,VCI, now makes a corrected version. If you are a fan of Argento, or mystery, or even horror then I definetely reccomend this DVD.
4.0 out of 5 stars An different terrific suspense thriller.,
An american writer (Tony Musante) witness a close murder by a person, who could be a He or a She. He becomes drawn into the web of mystery and violence.
This film features a good lead performance by Musante, Strong Cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (Apocalyspe Now, Ladyhawke) and Fine music score by Ennio Morricone (John Carpenter`s The Thing, The Untouchables). One of Dario Argento`s (Suspiria, Phenomena) best films and also his first film. Cromoscope. Grade:A-.
3.0 out of 5 stars Broad appeal for Argento's debut feature,
Even those who don't care for writer-director Dario Argento's later baroque extravaganzas may warm to his debut feature "The Bird With the Crystal Plumage" (L'Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo, 1969), a well-received thriller in which an American writer living in Rome (Tony Musante) witnesses an assault on a woman in an art gallery and is subsequently targeted by the would-be assassin, a crazed psychopath who's been terrorizing the city with a series of brutal murders. Typical of an Argento thriller, the hapless hero's investigation unleashes a cycle of violence which culminates in a climactic unmasking that will take some viewers completely by surprise. Loosely inspired by Fredric Brown's novel 'The Screaming Mimi' (filmed under that title in 1958), Argento's first film is a fairly straightforward thriller with horror asides, anchored by a strong narrative, an increasingly bizarre series of supporting characters, and a strong Everyman hero who slots the puzzle together piece by piece before realizing that the most important clue to the killer's identity was there in front of him all the time. Musante is given excellent support by English actress Suzy Kendall as his girlfriend (the scene in which she's besieged alone in her apartment as the killer hacks through the door with a knife is truly the stuff of nightmares) and Enrico Maria Salerno as the cop charged with finding the killer before he/she strikes again.
Despite Argento's prior screenwriting credits, including significant contributions to the script of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" (C'era una Volta il West, 1969), producers were unconvinced of his directorial abilities and wanted to pull him off the picture during the first few weeks of shooting, but Argento persevered under an iron-clad contract and ultimately proved his critics wrong with the finished product, a genuinely engrossing mystery punctuated by scenes of explicit horror. The film puts a late-1960s Italian spin on the kind of movie that Hitchcock had already popularized in America, and is leavened with the same kind of uproarious humor: Salerno gets the best line of dialogue during a police line-up when he despairs: "How many times do I have to tell you? Ursula Andress belongs with the transvestites, not the perverts!" And later, an outrageously camp antiques dealer offers a jaw-dropping description of one of the killer's former victims: "It was said she preferred women. I couldn't care less - I'm no racist, for heaven's sake!" Briskly edited by Franco Fraticelli, and featuring a brief appearance from distinctive character actor Reggie Nalder ("Mark of the Devil", "Salem's Lot") as an assassin-for-hire, "Bird" is arguably Argento's warmest, most humane thriller until "Tenebrae" (Tenebre) in 1982.
VCI's region-free DVD runs 95m 47s (not including the UMC logo at the beginning, which wasn't part of the original film) and restores all of the violence that was cut from the initial US theatrical release. The restored material is derived from a separate source - possibly VHS - and is of lesser quality than the bulk of the film, which offers a bright, colorful rendition of the Cromoscope image, slightly reframed to 2.20:1 (from the original 2.35:1), anamorphically enhanced. VCI were forced to issue a 'corrected' version of the disc when it was discovered that one of the restored sequences - the bedroom murder - had been edited incorrectly. However, both versions offer an unnecessary two-channel stereo 'enhancement' of the mono original which sounds more than a little forced and unnatural, made worse because the dialogue is badly out of sync for the duration of the movie, and while the film relies primarily on Vittorio Storaro's widescreen visuals, the audio blemish provides a hideous distraction during prolonged conversation sequences. Ennio Morricone's lilting, melancholy music score is cut off at the end, just as the last credits disappear from the screen, whereas it continued for almost another minute in the theatrical version. There's a letterboxed trailer and an audio-only soundtrack option, but no captions or subtitles of any kind.
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian Slasher At It'sBest,
I don't watch Dario Argento movies for plots that make sense or characters who act logically. I watchArgento movies for extremely tense scenes of suspense and shocking gore. I watch for his ability to move a camera around so in such interesting ways that I have to pause, rewind and watch a scene again. "The Bird with the Crystal Plummage" delivers everyting I love about Argento movies. There is a really cool retro '70's look to the film with a great soundtrack by Ennico Morricone.
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is Where Argento's Journey Begins,
Dario Argento's first film is an extremely enjoyable taut thriller, introducing visual themes that crop up on subsequent films (murders with sexual overtones, inventive camera work, lighting, and color schemes), a wonderful Ennio Morricone soundtrack, and plenty of black humor. This DVD has the theatrical trailer along with the full Morricone score. If you're a thriller fan you won't be disappointed.
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The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (2-Disc Special Edition) by Dario Argento (DVD - 2005)