the bird with the crystal plumage (1970)

This is not the place for you to come to get deep insights into the theory of film, the nuances of photography, a study of theses regarding creators of Art and Their Works or even a decent rendering of what I just watched but – here – I have a (I think pretty popular) Giallo that I haven’t seen in about ten years and it’s made by Dario Argento (who I think is one of the masters of horror, right) and his shit probably doesn’t stink and he can do no wrong and everything he touches is the Finest Piece of Fineness (like that time I went to San Antonio and liked my steak so much I thanked it) but here I am in my Miasmic, stinking glory and, wafting around your computer, tablet or phone, steeping the air around you noxiously, never leaving and outstaying my welcome and – hey, man – I really like this movie. I wouldn’t recognize Argento’s work or any sort of – ahem – pastiche that came after him but this is really well done and pretty good.

One thing I seeem to need to be clear on is that, when I watched this for the first time however long ago, I think I liked it a lot too and then when I put this on the other day I thought I remembered an entirely different movie. I know that I’m dumb and all that but I think it’s because, whenever ago, I used the poster up above for my post about it back then and I remembered something more colorful, maybe in a library full of fronds and shit like that, maybe something more purply and bell-bottomy but, nope, not here and I still really liked it. Not that I need all of that shit to like something but I just found it weird that I thought I was getting into something different. Another thing – if your only thoughts about Giallo (Gialli?) are lots of beautiful, naked, European ladies and probably a knife or something up a hoo-hoo, this one is very PG, with even very little blood.

But – back to things I forgot – how on earth did I forget the character So Long???

That’s him on the right and he’s not credited as that on IMDb so there but, what great writing. “Why are you visiting me in jail anyway, so long.” Man gets up to leave. “WAIT! Why are you leaving already?” “Because you said ‘So Long’.” “Oh. That. I have a lisp.” Great! Between that and the five lookalike maids in The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave we’ve got a script ready to be written. All we need is to get Barbara Bouchet on board if she’d be game but probably not so we could try for Suzy Kendall who’s in this movie but she probably wouldn’t go for it either, so long.

A man lives in Italy! He’s a writer! He’s an American! He witnesses a murder! It’s inside an at gallery! It wasn’t a murder, it was just a stabbing! He saved the fucking day! There’s a rapist going around raping and killing people! It may have something to do with this painting painted by a cat eating hermit that lives in a boarded up house! It’s boarded up to keep out busybodies! Or maybe it’s the left-handed husband of this one lady! Or maybe it’s this gun wielding fellow in a yellow jacket! Maybe So Long knows! Or maybe So Long’s guy who may or may not know anything and he may or may not call in the morning! Maybe! Giallo! Gialli?!

Since this came out before I was born, I can’t say I lived through the emerging technology of the time other than what I saw in the old, good Doctor Who episodes but, in Bird, the crack IT unit of the Italian PD do some serious data mining of all of the things they collected at the murder scene, no DNA, but all of the other such things like furs and fuzz and finger dust and semen (no, they didn’t) and fed it all in their room sized computers and came up with an algorithm nailing the suspect down to around 150,000 men in their city, most likely this guy:

What an incredible group of highly paid designers we have on staff here at Film Miasma! We hope, one day, they’ll realize their dreams of receiving that grant they’ve applied for every year since 2012 to The Fine Arts Division at Pepperdine University.

Bless them. So anyway with the hi-tech doodads and whizzits they think they can track the killer down with about eight different caveats of who it just might be. The big pay off for that big reveal is up to the watcher, of course, “No shit, douchebag,” you mumble. So what else can we talk about here? Have you seen this movie? Do you remember the big knife-through-the-door-eyeball-looking-inside-scene? I do – but I also just watched it. Here’s the Film Miasma Big Money QuestionTM for you: Did the eyeball of the killer looking through that hole in the door match the eyeball of the killer once we figure out who the killer is? HUH HUH!! Does it?? Does it??? I’ll tell you what I think if you really want me to but only if you’re real nice to me.

Otherwise, other than the distinct lack of naked Europeans, we see some fancy editing sleights of hand he’d use again in Four Flies and a trick of movie-putting-togetherness that I like when someone remembers something and the flashback is only one quick second with no sound. They do that a lot in this and I enjoyed it. To go back to my ahem-ness from earlier and use a fancy word that I don’t do very often because I don’t like douches who use fancy words when they don’t need to be used, I like that a lot of directors these days have pastiche-d that technique. I also REALLY like that Mike Flanagan used to do that a lot. Absentia is probably one of my favorite movies of his.

I think, like most Giallo (Gialli!?) the big payoff is in the end and the last five minutes or so of this thing made the whole movie for me. Well – maybe the five or so minutes before the five or so minutes when the doctor explains everything in voiceover (but they do tie up everything real nice) so long.

And – because OCD doesn’t want me to end with that lobby card calling this The Gallery Murders, here’s a nice lobby card finisher of Kendall who had the best background characterness in the whole thing:

FILED UNDER: GIALLORAMA

9 thoughts on “the bird with the crystal plumage (1970)

    1. So I’m currently reading this book called The Vorrh – it’s great, it’s awesome, it’s epic and all that. For real. There’s these sentences I came across the other day that reminded me oh so fucking much of my blog and everything I do and OH GOD how I wish I’d written it but, My Beloved, this is the ONLY way I can ever imagine someone coming to my place now (all rights reserved to Brian Catling):

      “She climbed on to the ladder too, intending to ascend, but it objected noisily. She got a whiff of Mutter’s rear end, an aroma that was, essentially, peasant: root, vegetables and meat, laced with hard work, tobacco and strong drink, all amplified by a distaste for bathing.

      She stepped back on to the solid floor and into more fragrant air, just as he disappeared into the groaning hole.”

      Love,

      Film Miasma

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There’s another passage about 300 pages later where a guy nuts his britches and then has to go out into a public that “surely noticed his appalling condition “. These comments are the story of my life – and I love them.

        Like

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