The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1970)
aka L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo
Article 3713 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-29-2011
Posting Date: 10-14-2011
Directed by Dario Argento
Featuring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno
Country: Italy / West Germany
What it is: Giallo

An American writer in Italy witnesses an attempted murder, but he becomes obsessed with the scene he witnessed because there’s something wrong that he can’t quite figure out. However, the attempted murder appears to be linked to a group of similar murders… and the writer soon finds himself being stalked by the killer. Nevertheless, he embarks on his own investigation…

This was Dario Argento’s first directorial effort, and it’s remarkably well assured; already there’s a strong sense of style, an interesting and intriguing story, and some great use of music (as well as silence). Nevertheless, I wish I had seen this one before I saw some of his other movies, largely because it felt a little too familiar; I found myself hearkening back to my viewings of FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET and DEEP RED, both of which struck me as quite similar to this one. Yet, because this movie predated both of them, I can’t really judge the movie on these terms; if anything, the latter movies built off what he started in this one, so this one must be really considered the innovator. As usual, the horror element is the psychotic killer on the loose, and, like FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, the title won’t make any sense until you’re on the threshold of solving the mystery. There’s a bit of black comedy to add to the proceedings as well, with characters such as an addled painter and an over-cautious stool pigeon to add to the fun. It’s less bloody than some of his later movies, but it’s still quite effective.

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