Above It All

Florinda Balkan has a pretty fabulous pad, and also a kink for restaging crime scene photos with herself as victim, and also a serious stack of giallo paperbacks, all of which seems like a broad hint that she won’t be around smiling in the end credits of Elio Petri’s INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION, which is itself a lot more than a simple, or even complicated, giallo slasher. Oh no. You can read more over at The Daily Notebook in this week’s edition of The Forgotten. I shall be digging deeper into Petri’s oeuvre and may well find something far more forgotten than this movie, but Petri himself is neglected and deserves the attention, and besides, it’s nice once in a while to write about something a few readers might have seen…

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23 Responses to “Above It All”

  1. Poor dear Florinda Bolkan couldn’t act her way out of a Petri dish – but my God, she knew how to wear clothes! Check her out in Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s METTI UNA SERA A CENA (aka LOVE CIRCLE) where she dons a Paco Rabanne-style gown (with matching helmet) made entirely of silver chains. Or FLAVIA THE HERETIC, where she looks drop-dead glamorous in a nun’s habit. The line between film acting and fashion modelling is a finer one than we like to imagine.

  2. Indeed. See also Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn and Silvana Mangano.

  3. Jenny Eardley Says:

    Dang I was working up a Petri dish pun but I’m 10 minutes too late

  4. She acquits herself fine in this one. In a comedy like Royal Flash her limitations show a lot more clearly, outacted by Britt Ekland. If what’s needed is glamour, she’s more than up to the task. And there’s a kind of unhealthy miasma of perversity about her that’s often helpful too.

  5. Who among us doesn’t go to the movies in search of an unhealthy miasma of perversity ?

  6. david wingrove Says:

    Would you believe that ‘Petri dish’ actually wasn’t a conscious pun? All I was looking for was an alternative to ‘wet paper bag’ and ittoally slipped my mind that a ‘Petri’ directed the movie in question.

    In fact, I’ve only ever seen one Elio Petri film, THE TENTH VICTIM – which is never quite as good as the sum total of its elements leads you to expect! Ursula Andress is sensational (when is she not?) the design is gorgeous and the idea is fascinating, but I think they could have done a lot more with it.

    I’m keen to see A QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY because I really like the short horror story it’s based on and Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero make a fascinating couple onscreen and off. At least he’s a better actor than her later beau Timothy Dalton!

    David E – I actually think Silvana Mangano was a superlative actress, almost a silent screen star in that she could create an indelible character without using words (see DEATH IN VENICE). As for Marlene…if playing Marlene Dietrich for 90-odd years wasn’t acting, pray tell me what was?!

  7. Timothy Dalton doubters should see him in Hot Fuzz, a comic performances for the ages, leading a gang which also includes Edward Woodward and Billie Whitelaw.

    I’ve just obtained A Quiet Place and look forward to exploring it.

    Marlene does a couple of zesty impersonations, as a mute cleaning woman in Dishonored, and as a cockney harpy in Witness for the Prosecution, which suggest that while Rich Little need not be worried, she had a wider range that usually admitted.

  8. Tony Williams Says:

    Florinda was not bad in THE LAST VALLEY that also contains one of the best, non-Alfie type performances from Michael Caine. I really appreciate this focus on Petri. I’d love to see THE WORKING CLASS GOES TO HEAVEN since it has a great rivet-like industrial score by Morricone who also scored other Petri films such as INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN and A QUIET DAY IN THE COUNTRY, the latter with his avant-garde music group Nuova Consonanta (sic>). More of Petri’s films need to be seen.

  9. I agree, especially by me!

    Have never seen The Last Valley but heard it’s quite good. Anything with Michael Gothard gets my vote.

  10. David Boxwell Says:

    Ah Florinda, Maruschka, Ornella–where are the 70s and 80s trisyllabic Eurotrash mini-vedettes/vixens of yesteryear? Will we see their like again?

  11. It might require the extermination of Berlusconi and the injection of a bit more life into Italian cinema. Quite how that could be accomplished I don’t know. There is some good work being done in Italy, but it doesn’t seem to have found space for glamour.

  12. Verushka has been working for several years with Ulrike Ottinger.

    Silvana Mangano was indeed a superb actress but she was also a presentational spectacle in fashion ters, and enevr more so than in Deth in Venice

  13. Brazilian Florinda Bolkan is unforgettable in the brilliant Non si sevizia un paperino and in Una lucertola con la pelle di donna.

  14. LUCERTOLA (LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN) is a flat-out masterpiece, but the dazzling Anita Strindberg acts poor Florinda off the screen and out into the lobby!

  15. Verushka still looks great. Here she is modelling in London only a few days ago:

    http://www.metro.co.uk/lifestyle/841660-old-models-hit-the-london-catwalk

  16. “You got BOWN structure!” as the legendary Madeleine Kahn intones in Paper Moon.

    Lizard is pretty incredible, only let down by a weak ending. I’m thinking of watching it again though, just to pick a scene or two to show students to illustrate the joy of crazy filming choices. Every scene has some grand, ridiculous visual idea.

  17. Margit Carstensen + giallo = Anita Strindberg

  18. Makes sense! The kind of face that you get either from combining beauty with cocaine/heroin, or by being bitten by a beautiful zombie.

  19. “The line between film acting and fashion modelling is a finer one than we like to imagine.”

    How about Stefania Casini? A model who regularly stole scenes in diverse films like Blood For Dracula, The Bloodstained Shadow, 1900, The Belly Of An Architect, Suspiria (where she has the wire room death and makes the bizarre final act appearance as the zombie), Bye Bye Monkey and Cocktail Molotov.

  20. The wire room is one of the film’s best images, like something out of Svankmajer or Tsukamoto. And Casini is a pretty intense performer.

    Those colours really ARE borrowed from Disney’s Snow White, aren’t they?

  21. And also while talking about models turned actors, how can we ignore Jason Statham!

  22. Contra Mundum Press will be publishing WRITINGS ON CINEMA & LIFE, the first ever English translation of Petri’s writings later this month.

    Re The Tenth Victim, Petri wanted to do much more with the film as well but his true vision for the film was strangled by the producers.

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