As a fan of Sergio Martino’s giallos, I don’t know why I never watched this one before last night. Maybe because Edwige Fenech isn’t in the cast. I have been meaning to watch it for ten years. It was an enjoyable watch, which neither deserved to be put off for ten years, nor was worth ten years of anticipation. It’s not as stylish as some of the giallos I have seen, but it does have going for it not one but two foot chases down spiral staircases. And of course, the plot left me with questions, which is half the fun of these things.
After a plane crash nets a young widow a million in insurance, investigators from Interpol, the Greek police, and the insurance fraud department team up to discover who has subsequently murdered her right after she cashed her check. As more bodies pile up, we start to think the killer is doing this more for kicks than just for the money because he looks like a typical giallo killer and has a specific way of killing all the women. Then it turns out that he is crazy, but more of a “going postal” kind of crazy rather than stealing underwear kind of crazy. And of course, even crazy people would probably like to steal a million dollars.
Spoilers are going to follow after the photo. I actually like spoilers because it removes the stress of not knowing what’s going to happen. That’s why the second viewing is often better. I might be overthinking this movie, but I’m definitely going to watch it again, and that’s me recommending it.
It’s less me spoiling things to explain them than it is me spoiling in order to be able to express all that I didn’t understand. OK, I immediately suspect George Hilton is the bad guy whenever he shows up in a movie. But I had to look on Moviechat (the former IMDb boards) to find out who the second killer was: the steward from the airline who was sleeping with the widow, who was then himself stabbed in the eye with a broken bottle. But why was Hilton asking the journo, Anita Strindberg, to enlarge photos of the scorpion cuff links, when the guy from Interpol was the one who found the cuff link in her apartment? I guess I missed how Hilton even knew about the cuff links, until the convoluted explanation for why he had them made and planted them. Was the plane in the original murder, the explosion, a commercial airliner or a private plane, and in either case, why wasn’t it investigated due to the bombing after it blew up? Wouldn’t a bomb immediately negate the insurance payout? And why is the guy from Interpol in the taxi with Strindberg at the end? That made me think he was the second killer until I looked on Moviechat.
Aside from all that, I wonder how old school photographers feel now that you can just zoom in on a photo by moving your finger rather than dragging a bunch of large pieces of equipment into the process. Of course, in a modern movie the cell phone needed to zoom in on the photo wouldn’t have worked at the right time, in order to manufacture suspense.
Back to the movie. I was super engaged from the beginning of the film up until the widow, Evelyn Stewart, was killed, because I thought she was the protagonist and the murderer. I wanted to see how she and whoever she was going to meet in Tokyo were going to get away with it. There was some real suspense in that portion of the film, mostly because I didn’t read the synopsis so I was surprised when she got killed. I’m still not sure if she was involved in the plane crash. Then I thought OK, this is a Hitchcock ripoff, but I can work with that. Then I was excited because it looked like a journalist and a non-cop (Strindberg and Hilton) were going to solve the case because I love the giallo trope where the cops don’t solve it. And it looked like the trope of “I can’t remember one crucial piece of information but I know THAT will clear everything up once I do” was going to come into play. If it did, I never understood what that piece of information was. But the last half hour of the film was just the director deciding that it was would look cool on film if everyone went on a boat ride.
Style always wins over substance with these movies, and that’s fine. Most murder mysteries leave me with questions in the end because you’d have to be crazy to kill a bunch of people, and I need to accept that. I still love giallos but I want the puzzle pieces put in place.
P.S. if you need further recommendation that you might like this film, know that my mom came in in the middle and got involved in watching, and she’s not only too busy to watch films, she’s also a Normal Person who doesn’t stand for any nonsense like people’s eyeballs getting poked out.