Friday, 18 February 2011

Death Walks on High Heels [1971]

As if to demonstrate that I do actually possess some discernment and don't think every film I watch is wonderful, along comes Luciano Ercoli's DEATH WALKS ON HIGH HEELS.  Those of you who have been paying attention may already have guessed from its bizarre title that this is another example of the giallo.  Unfortunately it is a particularly inept example.

All the elements are there but they are put together with such a lazy and cynical disregard for the audience, as though the film-makers think all they have to do is dream up a convoluted plot, add a dash of gore and a whole heap of nudity and the audiences will come running.  It misses the whole point of the giallo which is style; it is such a robust genre that it can bear any amount of sleaze or bad taste, as long as it is carried off with style.  Very little of that style is in evidence here, so the film comes off as merely tawdry.  Furthermore, in tacit acceptance that the film is floundering, the director goes for some very broad comedy which doesn't work at all.  To make matters worse the film is set largely in an English coastal village.  This isn't a problem in itself until you consider that most of the cast are swarthy foreigners, which leads to some rather odd looking characters.

The oddjob man and the barmaid.  English as ... antipasti

Inspectors Bergson and Baxter of the Polizia ... I mean 'the Yard'.
There is very little else to add apart from noting the presence of Frank Wolff, the sole English actor in the cast, who worked almost exclusively on the continent, most memorably in Sergio Leone's epic ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

Frank Wolff
He's actually not too bad in this, giving a better performance than the script deserves.  How can you take seriously a line such as "I'll be back tomorrow to talk to Captain Lenny about the boat, but then I'll have to rush off again as I've got to do a pretty delicate eye operation on a man who's losing his sight."

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