Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 31st, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, November 19th, 1970
Director: Luciano Ercoli
Writers: Ernesto Gastaldi, Mahnahén Velasco
Cast: Dagmar Lassander, Pier Paolo Capponi, Simón Andreu, Osvaldo Genazzani, Nieves Navarro
DVD released: November 30th, 2012
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono German
Subtitles: English, German
DVD Release: Camera Obscura
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: 26.99 EUR
Synopsis: One evening a blackmailer tells Minou that her husband Peter has murdered someone and that he has proof. While visiting Minou learns while visiting her friend Dominique that one of Peter’s business partners has died mysteriously. The next day Minou’s recognizes the man who attacked her a few nights before in a pornographic photographic which Dominique showed her. Later that same evening the blackmailer calls Minou up and he demands that she meet with him the next day. The next day Minou goes to meet the blackmailer in hopes of paying him off and shortly after he arrives it soon becomes clear that no amount of money will buy him off.
Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion would mark the directorial debut of Luciano Ercoli (Death Walks in High Heels) and after watching the film one wouldn’t know that it was made by a first time director as every thing looks polished and perfectly put into the right place. When Ercoli and his films are discussed he is never mentioned in the same breath as some of his more elevated contemporaries. Ercoli is auteur in his own right and his films are every bit just as accomplished and beautifully stylized like Dario Argento, Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci films. His sense of framing compositions’ and pacing of plot is second to none.
Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion is not your atypical giallo as there is no black gloved killer, no excessive bloodshed and the murdered is exposed early on. The films protagonist Minou played by Euro-cult sex pot Dagmar Lassander (The Frightened Woman) also defies the genres standard conventions. Minou is being blackmailed and she feels that she must keep this secret while keeping her husband out of jail by destroying all the blackmailers’ evidence. To go any further might run too much of the mystery lets just say that this is just one of many plot twists that send the story in another direction.
The films other main lead is actress Nieves Navarro (Death Walks at Midnight), who later in her career would play the victim in several giallo’s. This time around she plays the most level headed person in the film and she is also the one Minou relies on when she starts to lose grip on what is real anymore. Both Nieves Navarro and Dagmar Lassander look stunning and mere words can really not sum up their true beauty in this film.
Ennio Morricone’s score is superb and other worldly enchanting. Morricone has a knack for composing scores that enhance the mood of a film. Ernesto Gastaldi’s (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh) screenplay is nearly flawless outside of a few minor quirks that at first may leave you scratching your head. Overall Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion is an exceptional giallo that succeeds without having to rely on genre clichés like violent and carnal set pieces.
Camera Obscura presents Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 2.35:1 ‘scope’ aspect ratio. In 2006 Blue Underground released this film on DVD and though that was a very good transfer for the time when it was released. This new transfer from Camera Obscura is equally as strong and in some instances slightly better than that aforementioned transfer. Sure to most casual viewers these transfers will look the same, while those with a more critical mind are sure to enjoy the Camera Obscura transfer more.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in German. Don’t let the lack of a English audio track dissuade you from getting this release. In fact many of those only familiar with the aforementioned DVD release from Blue Underground with be pleasantly surprised just how well this film’s plays out in Italian with English subtitles. Overall both audio mixes provided for this release are in very good shape as dialog always come through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also included with this release are two subtitle options, English and German.
Extras for this release include a intro to the film with director Luciano Ercoli and actress Nieves Navarro, a English language trailer for the film (3 minutes 6 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a photo gallery and two featurette’s, the first one titled ‘Shooting Forbidden Photos’ (35 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and the second one titled ‘Venus Plus’ (14 minutes 36 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles).
The first featurette include comments from Luciano Ercoli and Nieves Navarro, who discuss how they got into the film industry, Luciano Ercoli discusses his career as a producer and his transition into directing and Nieves Navarro reveals how she got the pseudonym Susan Scott. Other topics they discuss include the cast and crew, shooting on location in Spain, Ennio Morricone’s score, screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, the giallo genre and various other films that they worked on. The second featurette is with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, who discusses the origins of the script and how he originally intended for this screenplay to be a film that his wife Mara Maryl would be the star of and how she was unavailable to be in the film, so he sold the screenplay. Other topics he discusses include the giallo genre, Luciano Ercoli and his thoughts on the final product, Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion. It should also be noted that when both Luciano Ercoli and Ernesto Gastaldi talk about each it is not in the highest of regard.
Also included with this release is a DVD booklet that includes a insightful essay about the film and those involved in this production. This essay is presented in dual text, English and German. This release also comes with multi-lingual menus, English and German.
I have always had a strange infinity with the thriller genre, in particular the Italian thrillers better known as giallo’s. And in a time when it seems that this genre has all but been forgotten. It is refreshing to see a company like Camera Obscura release another Giallo on DVD, even one that had been released before on DVD. Overall Camera Obscura gives Forbidden Photos of a Lady above Suspicion its strongest home video release to date, highly recommended.