Morte sospetta di una minorenne (1975)

21 02 2011

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve last encountered Sergio Martino. Since then I’ve developed a theory that although he was an extremely skilled filmmaker, he was always held back by his content. This is never more evident than it is here in which he takes a pretty ridiculous story, complete with noir-inspired conventions and terrible music, and dissects it with his otherwise fantastic aesthetic. While it is a bit upsetting to see such obvious talent wasted on the b-film level projects he devoted his career to, I think there’s actually a charm to them. It’s bizarre to see some of the most groundbreaking technical work for the time masked underneath some pretty pedestrian narratives.

I’ll give the story here some credit: it’s pretty confusing at first. It’s not nearly as elliptical as it should be, but the opening is stitched together in a way that immediately separates Martino from most conventional action/horror/whatever other genre you can place this film in directors. Unfortunately, this makes the moment in which the story’s skeleton becomes visible even more laughable. Our protagonist, seemingly out of nowhere, becomes detective Paolo Germi. His intricate (to say the least) plan to discover the killer of a woman he met at a dance hall slowly begins to unfold, along with the help of his comic relief sidekick, Giannino.

Another jarring element, aside from just the general lack of tremendously interesting happening on the screen, is the music which seems like it was written for a silly detective TV show. It’s hard to fully embrace Martino’s brilliant command of montage when it is being overwhelmed by such dreadful music. It’s another case of the film selling itself short: it has this terrible devoted noir detective complex guiding the story, but there seems to be something more in detective Germi. It’s in his eyes in the opening scene at the dance hall, which I guess is to help contribute to the surprise of finding out he is a detective later on. At the point, he becomes merely a chess piece of justice, a hero without any depth but with all the traits that the genre has already ascribed to him. It sounds a lot worse than it is considering the fact that it only takes about fifteen minutes to realize the movie isn’t going to be some significant artistic statement, not even for Martino’s standards. It’s a piece of popcorn entertainment, but its just one that happens to be expertly crafted.

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2 responses

22 02 2011
Carlo

good review, partially agree
what are your feelings on dillinger is dead?

28 02 2011
Jake Savage

I haven’t seen it yet.

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