Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Original Title: 4 mosche di velluto grigio
Year: 1971
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi (story), Mario Foglietti (story)
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066735/
Genre: Giallo

A musician is stalked by an unknown killer who's blackmailing him for an accidential killing of another stalker. But is everything what it appears to be?

A bit of a hiatus there from my number themed flicks. Would you expect any less (more) from me?

Four Flies comes from a Dario Argento that hadn't yet reached his prime. (And if you are still counting today, he is well past it.) It is part of an unofficial "Animals Trilogy," consisting of three completely unrelated films that all have an animal in the title. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Cat O' Nine Tails, and this film. These were his first three directed films, although he had been a screenwriter for awhile before this. Most likely because it was still early on in his direction career, we don't have the stylish shots that Argento would grow into, but that isn't to say that the film isn't stylish. Also, possibly because it was still early and less focus was being made on his technical craft, the story itself is still strong as well. Later into his career, it seems that his work's focus shifted more to the directional style over the plotlines.

Four Flies follows a somewhat standard giallo structure, with a central character witnessing or experiencing something that finds him either obsessed or helplessly tied up in a dangerous plot. Roberto, played by Michael Brandon, is pretty solid in the role if not remarkable. There's not much in the way of standout acting I found, but there are certainly memorable characters. To me it seems important to have the central "obsessed" character in a giallo be someone who is not way far out there, as the outrageous things need to happen to them for the best effect. Bud Spencer on the other hand plays the bizarre character God (short for Godfrey), a large and larger than life hermit type that lives in a shack beside a river who Roberto visits for advice. In a way this God character reminds me of a similar strange hermit visited by the main character of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage as well. Guess Dario liked the idea and stuck with it.

The main female lead, Mimsy Farmer as Roberto's wife Nina, is OK in bursts but not ultimately compelling as she overacts a bit. Granted, she is dealing with some pretty frightening things, but i'm a bastard, what can I say?

I really like Argento's early work, as I've said, because I feel like it is a good balance between the style and the substance. Four Flies isn't the greatest story ever told, but it's solid enough and has some interesting twists. The ultimate resolution of the film had be guessing until the end and left me satisfied.

The Euro-flavor of much of the shots and structure were strong as well. Nice moody lighting, some great point of view deaths, attacks, etc., interesting camera angles... all kept things feeling fresh even at times when the story threatened to slow down just a bit. There is a neat recurring dream sequence that Roberto experiences showing a criminal being beheaded in a square in the middle east. It is stark and washed out (possibly due partly to the age of the film), but regardless is a stark contrast to the cooler, darker, wetter tones of the rest of the film.

I could go on, but 1- this is a film better seen than described, and 2- I haven't seen this for a month, and my lazy ass is just finishing the review now. Sorry if the review is shitty. I just need to move on already!

Suffice it to say a fan of gialli or Argento or both will have a good time with Four Flies on Grey Velvet. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but makes the wheel nice and shiny and fun to roll around on.

Score: 7.5 / 10


No comments: