Wednesday, October 11, 2017


The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) d. Argento, Dario (Italy) (2nd viewing) 98 min

Having served his time in the cinematic trenches both as a film critic and a screenwriter (notably collaborating with Bernardo Bertolucci on Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West), the man who would become known as “The Italian Hitchcock” made his directorial debut with this snappy little giallo, the success of which cemented his path within the genre. Admittedly, there are only a few moments of outright horror and/or gore, but the newcomer’s sharp grasp of tension, atmosphere, camerawork, and pacing are beyond reproach in this telling of a vacationing American (Tony Musante) who on his last day abroad witnesses an attempted murder in an art gallery and is detained to help solve the mystery.

Suzy Kendall co-stars as his British girlfriend, although she’s not given much to do except look pretty and fall into peril as needed in the final reel. Argento’s obsession with obsessives is immediately apparent, with Musante’s unwitting sleuth finding himself unable to focus on lovemaking, mealmaking, or anythingelsemaking until he can recall the subliminal secret that lies in his memory, all underscored by maestro Ennio Morricone’s delicious lullaby score.

Arrow Video’s superb Blu-ray presentation features a brand new 4K restoration from the camera negative in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and it’s likely never looked this good. Author Troy Howarth (So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films) lends his sly wit and entertaining expertise to an audio commentary track that saves you plenty of time clicking around on IMDb wondering where you’ve seen “that guy” before, as well as useful context regarding Bird’s place both in Argento’s career and that of the Italian film industry (genre and non-genre alike).

Frequent Diabolique contributor and all-around smart cookie Kat Ellinger serves up a 30-minute onscreen analysis of the flick, while Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Devil's Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study) delivers a terrific visual essay, “The Power of Perception.”

There are also two new exclusive interviews with Argento and actor Gildo di Marco, who plays “Garullo the Pimp,” and the reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp and limited-edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin (featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook) make this an irresistible must-have for any giallo fan on your Christmas list.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is available now on Blu-ray and DVD and can be purchased HERE:


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