Desperate Moments (1971)

aka Gli occhi freddi della paura, Cold Eyes of Fear
Article 4411 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-3-2014
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari
Featuring Giovanna Rolli, Frank Wolff, Fernando Rey
Country: Italy / Spain
What it is: Thriller

A lawyer picks up a prostitute and brings her to his uncle’s house, only to discover an armed stranger who holds them captive. When the stranger’s boss shows up, it becomes apparent that the motive is revenge…

Is an Italian crime thriller from the seventies necessarily a giallo? I’m not sure what the exact definition of a giallo is, but I’d say this one doesn’t quite fit the mold. The first few minutes make it seem like one, but it’s a fake-out, as you’ll soon discover if you see it. Though there is a bit of mystery, it’s not a mystery in the giallo sense; we’re mostly curious as to the details surrounding the main villain’s desire for revenge. I’d say it’s more of a film noir than a giallo, one that’s attempting to say something about class and corruption in England. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; the story is a little too vague in some of its details, and it comes across as very silly when it tries to be psychological; the surreal scene where everyone’s pointing at the villain and yelling “Guilty!” is the worst moment. In fact, I find it hard to say this one is fantastically themed at all. I’m afraid this one is a false alarm.

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