The Cat O’ Nine Tails (1971)

aka Il gatto a nove code
Article 4403 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Dario Argento
Featuring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak
Country: Italy / France / West Germany
What it is: Suspense thriller

A blind former journalist and a newspaperman combine forces to solve a mystery about a break-in to a pharmaceutical research company in which it appears that nothing was stolen. However, when a man who knew the true motive for the break-in is murdered, they find themselves also targets of whomever wants to keep the truth hidden.

This movie is mainly a mystery/thriller. However, the pharmaceutical company is doing some research into genetic dispositions for criminal behavior, and this pushes it slightly into science fiction territory. The movie also features a serial killer and a scene involving a raid of a crypt, and these give the movie some horror content as well. That being said, this was Dario Argento’s second directorial effort, and I’d have to say this is the most disappointing of the movies of his I’ve seen to date. That’s not to say it’s bad; it isn’t, and it’s a decent movie for the most part. It is, however, overlong, somewhat padded, and there are stretches where his stylistic muse seems to desert him. According to IMDB, there’s a 90 minute cut of the movie out there, and I wonder if that one might work a little better; my print ran 111 minutes, and is a little dull. Still, it does work pretty well when things start moving towards the end.


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