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on November 10, 2015
now OOP, but if you can get this edition (Blue Underground) snag it - unlike other editions this is in the correct aspect ratio, which for a film as visually compelling and interesting as this, is key.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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.
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on October 11, 2014
Not as good as I remember it being. But I am still glad to have it. Some very amusing humour in there that surprised me. Early Argento & the best of his 3 'animal' themed films.
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on May 28, 2014
Arrived unscathed and on time. Love Argento flicks. For the most part, I haven't been dissatisfied yet. The only exception for me being Inferno, which was just ok for me, hated the score. Anyways, good flick.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon May 19, 2011
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.
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on December 24, 2003
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.
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on December 11, 2003
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!
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on October 19, 2002
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.
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on October 16, 2002
*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.
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on September 7, 2002
I gave this 3 stars; I would have given it 3.5 if that were possible. I watched the VCI Home Video "uncut widescreen presentation" on DVD; I don't know if that's the same version Amazon is selling. The box describes it as 16x9 format and there are black strips at the top and bottom of the screen, but the edges have been trimmed from the image nonetheless. Still, it works pretty well visually. And visuals are a lot of what Argento's movies are about!
I've heard a lot about this movie over the years and my expectations were fairly high. I was not disappointed; there are some genuinely creepy moments as well as some bizarre humor -- the "mad artist" sequence in particular is quite funny. Plot-wise, things get stretched a bit, but the movie is at least as credible -- and as scary -- as, say, "Fatal Attraction." Morricone's score is mostly effective, in a 1970s kind of way. In places, it reminded me of Ron Grainer's score for "The Omega Man," made in the same era.
This is not a great movie, in the same class as Hitchcock's best, but it's up there with Brian DePalma's work. If you like atmospheric, slightly surreal "slasher" movies, you'll enjoy this "Bird."
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