The Tenth Victim (1965)

THE TENTH VICTIM (1965)
aka La Decima vittima
Article 1791 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-8-2006
Posting Date: 7-8-2006
Directed by Elio Petri
Featuring Marcello Mastrioianni, Ursula Andress, Elsa Martinelli

In the future, people can sign up for a hunt game. They can win a million dollars if they win ten rounds, five of which have them hunting another person, the other five of which they are the hunted. This is the story of one hunter and one victim.

This is one of that subgenre of movies about violent futuristic sports movies where the sport in question is usually fatal to the loser. Movies like THE RUNNING MAN, ROLLERBALL and DEATH RACE 2000 all belong somewhat to this genre, but none of them are quite as unique, clever, or disarmingly charming as this one. It’s a duel to the death as romantic comedy, and it is frankly hilarious as Ursula Andress (as the Hunter) and Marcello Mastroianni (as the Victim) try to kill each other while falling in love at the same time. The killing is hampered by contractual obligations; both sides have decided to maximize their profits by agreeing to endorse products so that the resulting kill can be used in an advertising campaign. Despite the undertone of dark satire, this movie has as light a touch as any movie by Rene Clair, and both Andress and Mastroianni are so charming in their respective roles that I found the movie utterly irresistible. Compared to it, movies like DEATH RACE 2000 are heavy-handed and obvious. And I laughed more than once at some of the scenes, my favorite being a long complaint being made by a hunter about all the restrictions about where you can kill people in Rome (no hospitals, for example). The movie was based on a short story by Robert Sheckley.

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