Dario Argento. When I’ve started to pay attention to movies more closely, to learn about actors, directors, producers, what have you, I’ve read (and to this read I am reading) a lot of press and web stuff – reviews, monographies, biographies…you know, the usual stuff and that’s how I’ve learnt a lot about movies I’d normally don’t watch or don’t have desire to pick up. And, on the other side, learnt a thing or two about stuff I love and prefer.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

To make it short, I’ve never given Dario Argento much thought. I did watch Michele Soavi’s “La Setta” when I was younger and where Argento was one of the script writers (and which I didn’t really like, as it was quite a shit) and that was all about me preparation phase. Nope, I am lying. I’ve seen also “The Phantom of the Opera” – and I like that one. Therefore, now I can say, that was all for my preparation.

Then I’ve read a lot of praise about Argento, all the talk about Suspiria, Profondo Rosso and – on the other side – lot of criticism about his later movies, and with most of them being gialli, well, let’s say it’s not the first genre I would go to to get my share of movie nutrition, but I dont shy away from it, and in the Rubber Axe we have already reviewed two of from the genre – The Bay of Blood and The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

Anyway, it would be bad to make one’s opinion about the movie on the hearsay, so, one day I’ve sat down with Suspiria to see what’s that fuss all about. I have to confess I haven’t finished watching the movie. To me, it was a waste of time.

Then I’ve tried to watch Suspiria for the second time. And again, haven’t finished it, as I’d still thought it was shit. Yes, nice colours and all that, but I don’t watch movies for colours and nice contrast. So, for my first real encounter with Argento, he hasn’t fared well. Sorry, Dario.

And yesterday I decided to go with a blind choice of movie for the night and going from the right side of the bottom shelf of one of my wardrobes full of DVDs and Blus, I’ve picked up L’Uccello dalle piume di cristallo, a.k.a. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Argento’s directorial debut, in it’s original Italian with English subtitles. Oh well, I’ve thought to myself, here we go.

What to say. I didn’t dislike the movie, it was a standard Italian murder mystery, although with some things in it which are quite hard to explain (for example, the assassin with the yellow jacket – who the hell was he and why was he after Dalmas? It would be nice if Argento wouldn’t forget to give a little insight into it). The actions of the police and the main “hero” are also quite hard to understand. I don’t know what the practice of the Italian police is, but I am pretty sure they wouldn’t get an American journalist/crime witness and a target of the murder attempt to tag along with the investigation. But yeah, I don’t think they would have much story to go with then.

Also, the explanation of the vital and only clue. Well, how handy to have a friend who somehow happens to know what the sound on the tape was. And not to forget, the passage with the visit to the mad painter was not vital to the movie. Why to include it? Don’t ask me.

Anyway, I will not heap praise on Argento just because it’s fashionable to do so. I am not a movie critic, I am a movie fan and I am not bound to give ovations just to distinguish myself from the masses. Far from it, I like movies for being movies, being stories. That’s why I won’t trash the movie neither. It was OK. Nothing special (but still, keep in mind that it was released in 1970, so if I’d have seen it back then, my opinion would be probably different). And the surprise twist with the revealing of the masked killer and all that – well, it’s Italian giallo, but that was quite unbelievable.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Being as it was, I was still pleasantly surprised, as I’ve expected quite a worse movie. I’m not gonna re-visit it any time soon (if ever), but I am glad I’ve seen it, if for nothing else, then to have some of my movies-to-watch list one title down.
And if nothing else – Suzy Kendall and – especially – Eva Renzi were HOT!!!!!