Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original Title: Profondo Rosso
Italy, 1975. Rizzoli Film, Seda Spettacoli. Screenplay by Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi. Cinematography by Luigi Kuveiller. Produced by Salvatore Argento. Music by Giorgio Gaslini, Goblin. Production Design by Giuseppe Bassan. Costume Design by Elena Mannini. Film Editing by Franco Fraticelli.
One of Dario Argento’s finest efforts, this thrilling murder mystery shows off his penchant for splashy, unforgettable visuals and unapologetically graphic violence while, unfortunately, continuing his indulgence in overly drawn-out narratives and a lack of tight pacing. David Hemmings plays a musician working in Turin who is in the courtyard outside his apartment building, a vast set that includes a beautiful recreation of the Statue of Po, when he witnesses a horrible sight: his upstairs neighbour, a clairvoyant played by Macha Méril, is being brutally murdered at her window. Hemmings doesn’t get a good look at the killer, noticing only a shiny leather jacket, but he need not worry as the murderer is coming for him next and he’ll get an up close view soon enough. While giving eyewitnesss information in the dead woman’s apartment, a delightful, oddball reporter (Daria Nicolodi) shows up and befriends him, insisting that they investigate the clues of the case to try and figure out who the killer is. A great deal of the gorier scenes are genuinely upsetting, other shots full of a gleeful eeriness and the emphasis on bright colours and a number of the fascinating locations (such as the beautiful red theatre in which we first see Meril and the creepy house in the final act) make a deep impression. All this, a marvelous cast including veteran star Clara Calamai, and a plot that successfully ties up all its loose ends in a neat bow by the time you reach the very satisfying ending. The running time of two-plus hours is far too generous to a plot that could easily get things done in a much more efficient manner, but the aesthetic attributes, which also include magnificent, dated (in the best possible way) soundtrack make this easily forgivable.