Four Times That Night (1971)

MARIO BAVA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

Original Title: Quante volte… quella notte

//USA, 1971. , , . Screenplay by , , dialogue by , from a story by Charles Ross, adapted for the screen by Mario Moroni, . Cinematography by . Produced by , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Mario Bava changes pace from his typical baroque horror tales to update Rashomon for the mod set. A wealthy playboy () picks up a beautiful girl () in the park while she’s walking her dog, making plans with her for that same evening. She comes home from their date in the early hours wearing a ripped dress and tells her mother that he tried to rape her and she barely made it out of his apartment with her life.

He, however, tells his friends that he was at the mercy of a sexually insatiable woman who ravished him multiple times and gave him the scratches on his forehead in the heat of passion.

The building’s janitor, who spends most of his time obsessed with porn, relates what he saw while spying on the couple and insists that they were actually experimenting sexually with another couple, followed by a psychologist who relates to us what he thinks really happened and why it is that no two people ever remember the same event the same way.

The various versions of the tale are cheeky and playful, each of them suggesting that the characters can only interpret the event through the needs of their ego: she must save her reputation in the eyes of her conservative mother, he must impress his friends with his exploits, and the janitor’s mind is completely warped by his obsession with all manner of sex.

The first sequence is the most exciting, expertly directed and actually quite intense, while Bava threatens to really overdo it with his lengthy overindulgence in ripe, sexual scenes in the second part before things start to wrap up efficiently towards the end.

It’s a silly movie, one whose efforts are undermined by a very weak last quarter, but as always the director finds no end of visual flourishes with which to accentuate the action, from the bursts of colourful dresses to the gorgeously trendy sets.

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