Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 4th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1967
Director: Tinto Brass
Writers: Tinto Brass, Pierre Lévy, Francesca Longo
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ewa Aulin, Roberto Bisacco, Charles Kohler, Luigi Bellini, Monique Scoazec, Enzo Consoli, Vira Silenti, David Prowse, Janet Street-Porter
DVD released: April 28th, 2009
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Cult Epics
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Deadly Sweet was directed by Tinto Brass, who is most remembered for his erotic films like The Key, Miranda, All Ladies Do It, The Voyeur, Frivolous Lola, Cheeky and Private. The cinema of Tinto Brass can be easily divided into two distinctive styles, his work up to Salon Kitty and the more overtly erotic in tone ass obsessed voyeur film’s that have evolved after Salon Kitty. There are many instances in his earlier film’s that foreshadow the erotica themes and visual style that dominates his later films. One key scene in Deadly Sweet is a strip tease sequences in which Ewa Aulin’s character Jane, undresses seductively behind a see through plastic curtain which accentuates her best assets. To Tinto Brass’s credit his exploits his leading ladies beauty to its fullest.
The screenplay for Deadly Sweet was adapted by Tinto Brass from a novel written by Sergio Donati, titled “Il sepolcro di carta”. In his own right Sergio Donati was an accomplished screenwriter whose notable credits include For a Few Dollars More, The Big Gundown, Face to Face, Once Upon a Time in the West and A Fistful of Dynamite. The score for Deadly Sweet was composed by Armando Trovajoli, whose other notable composing credits include Hercules at the Center of the Earth and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
Two other key collaborators include Guido Crepax who worked on storyboards for the film and cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti. Guido Crepax is most known for the Valentina character that he created which was made into a feature film titled Baby Yaga and a TV series titled “Valentina”. Deadly Sweet would mark cinematographer Silvano Ippoliti’s first collaboration with director Tinto Brass. They would collaborate on a total of thirteen films starting with Deadly Sweet and ending with All Ladies Do It. Some of Silvano Ippoliti’s other notable credits as a cinematographer include Navajo Joe, Satanik, The Great Silence, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, When Women Lost Their Tails and Tony Arzenta – Big Guns.
Deadly Sweet owes more to the Hitchcock type thriller than the Argento thriller. The murder that sets the whole plot in motion is not shown until the film’s final moments when the pieces of the puzzle have been put in their proper places. There are a handful of deaths via guns fights. The body count is low and the violence is rather tame for an Italian thriller. The plot is a fairly straight forward murder mystery that has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. The film’s conclusion offers up a satisfying reveal of who the killer was and their motives. Visually is where this film is at its strength as the film’s vibrant colors are perfectly offset with moments in black & white. Some of the scenes in the film are firmly set in the world of late 1960’s psychedelic counter culture and these scenes have not aged well.
The ever reliable Jean-Louis Trintignant is cast as the film’s protagonist Bernard a French actor who befriends a young woman named Jane who witnessed a murder. Jean-Louis Trintignant is spot on in a Humphrey Bogart like role. Ewa Aulin is perfectly cast as the object of Bernard’s affection in the role of Jane Burroughs. Other notable cast members include Vira Silenti (I Vitelloni) and David Prowse (A Clockwork Orange). All around the cast are all very good in their respective roles. Ultimately Deadly Sweet is a stylish and engaging thriller that is anchored by the undeniable chemistry of its two leads Jean-Louis Trintignant and Ewa Aulin.
Cult Epics presents Deadly Sweet in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The source materials used for this transfer are in great shape. Colors look vivid, black levels are strong throughout, flesh tones look healthy and accurate. The black and white sequences exhibit solid shadow detail and contrast levels fare well throughout. This transfer has not been flagged for progressive playback and there are instances of ghosting / blurring that vary in degree. Also the actual running time of the film is about 100 minutes and not the 105 minutes stated on the DVD back cover. The difference in time appears to be a PAL to NTSC conversion issue.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian. The audio is in good shape as it sounds clear, clean and evenly balanced. Removable English subtitles that are error free, easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film that is dialog free and includes that main theme from the film playing in the background. Other extras include a brief lobby card gallery that contains six images. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with director Tinto Brass who discusses the reason behind shooting some sequences in black & white, casting the film’s two lead’s Jean-Louis Trintignant and Ewa Aulin and the visual / verbal style he was trying to achieve with this film. The audio commentary is an active track that gives a thorough overview about the making of this film. Overall Deadly Sweet gets its U.S. DVD debut via a flawed DVD that features a transfer which leaves plenty room for improvement.