Top positive review
"I can't get in. How do I open the door. Hang on! Just hang on!!!" - Sam Dalmas
on June 16, 2015
After writing for Sergio Leone's "Once upon a Time in the West", Dario Argento started his director career with "Bird with the Crystal plumage". A thriller that would spawn the giallo genre and become a landmark in Italian and even worldwide cinema.
The story we have here is of Sam Dalmas, an American writer on holiday in Italy who found himself in the wrong place, at the wrong time. stuck between two glass doors, Dalmas witnesses an assault a black-coated criminal did on a woman inside a closed gallery. An incident that turns him, with the police's help, an investigator on the case. Finding clues involving artwork, back noises, voices; all linked to a serial killer who has been terrorizing the city and who has murdered three women for a month.
As a story, the plotline is exclusively focused on the crime case. Indeed, we don't know much about the characters' past, how Sam and his girlfriend met, and how they are viewing their relationship, or their job. Only the most basic elements do we know about their lives. Therefore, instead of being a character-driven story, we have instead a situation driven plot; that of a murder plotline which creates reactions from the characters who are caught in its web. So don't expect any grand psychological diving into Sam's psychological profile if you are watching this movie. You just sit down and enjoy the 96 minutes ride Argento is giving. Whether it is the gorgeous sets by Dario Micheli, Vittorio Storaro's subtle cinematography, Ennio Morricone's music, Argento's tight camera movements, and the very artistic murders he displays in his movies. Something that may shock some viewers as the violence is graphical, blunt and not for the faint of heart. Why, the director's visual style was and remain so unconventional that it caused a commotion for the producer Gofferdo Lombardo. A man who, according to Alan Jones and Argento, wanted to pay Argento to stop directing the film and to have another artist replace him. Which fortunately didn't happen as it could have endangered the film's tight rhythm and production which was shot over six weeks. And that producer's fears were unfounded for instead the movie became a huge success around the world and Argento's work became a reference on artists like John Carpenter.
For their release, Arrow Films did a great job. The HD resolution is 1080p, the movie is uncensored, and the Blu-ray is region free, which means that anybody around the world can watch their disc on their player. And personally, I adore the cover leaflet they gave as it presents, on back-and-front, four posters used for the movie's release. Of them, the abstract painting for the Italian release is my favorite as you can sense that the movie you're about to watch will be mysterious and artistic. Among its special features, you have a leaflet with Alan Jones describing the production of this movie, citing details that heavily contrasted with Argento's memories on this movie. Indeed, Jones, unlike Argento, described the shooting as very complicated not only due to issues with some producer, but also with Sam Dalmas's actor, who was such a narcissistic egotist that Argento got into huge fights with his actor, causing stressful situations that have hurt Argento as he since became very apprehensive with his actors. Which is a shame as since it was the director's first movie, this has caused an impact on his other works and maybe, I write maybe, affected the human factor in some of his stories which some have complained as been razor-thin. Also, I'd say that my other bonus feature would be Luigi Cozzi's interview as he describes how the success of Argento's movies relied a lot on his collaborators, especially with Franco Fraticelli whose tight editing made the films more tense, powerful, and well mastered. A production detail that adds itself to what Daria Nicollodi described in the Phenomena and Suspiria release; that her collaboration, ideas, and scriptwriting was vital for his popular Three Mothers trilogy.
In conclusion, this movie here showcases the start of an excellent artist. One of his best works when he was at the height of his creativity.