Double D

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Rosanna Schiaffino and Sarah Ferrati.

Damiano Damiani has an inspiring, musical name — beaten only by Aldo Lado, whose name does a backflip and anagrams itself even as it trips off your tongue. But I hadn’t given much thought to DD — his array of spaghetti westerns, poliziotteschi plus AMITYVILLE II suggested an aimless journeyman — only now that I’ve seen LA STREGA IN AMORE (1966) have I become really curious, because if nothing else Damiano/i was clearly a considerable visual stylist. Adapting a story by Carlos Fuentes he plants loverboy librarian Richard Johnson (extremely good, even dubbed) in the palazzio of a mysterious older woman and her sexy young “daughter” where he endeavours to get his oats but gets more than he bargained for.

The story doesn’t add up to much — although it’s refreshing to see supernatural elements handled in a low-key manner, far less shrill than Argento, God love him. Only gradually does it emerge that the relationship between the two women is not what it seems — for some time, the previous librarian, Gian Maria Volonte (NEVER hire than man to file your books, he is a stranger to Dewy-Decimal but a close friend to MADNESS) seems the main source of tension, since he is rather fervent in his opposition to being replaced by the suave Johnson.

I didn’t really like where this ended up — it seemed to amount to little, apart from a brimstone whiff of witch-burning misogyny. But as an exercise du style it’s compelling, full of outrageously long, teasing scenes, simmering sexual tension, elegant blocking and sinuous camera movement, the stripped-down mansion serving as an atmospheric, unnerving psychosexual battleground.

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Also: Rosanna Schiaffino and Johnson trying to undress each other with their teeth. To music.

Fiona: “This is actually quite sexy. But if we tried it, it would just be hilarious.”

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9 Responses to “Double D”

  1. Fassbinder was a huge fan of Damiani’s “Quien Sabe” aka. “A Bullet For the General,” and cast Lou Castel in “Beware of a Holy Whore” because of it.

  2. I think I made an attempt at watching it many moons ago but it seemed a pale shadow of Leone to my intolerant younger self. I’ve been meaning to revisit it since with less unrealistic expectations I’ll probably enjoy it.

  3. LA STREGA IN AMORE is excellent brandy. It’s as if Bava had tried to do a Robbe-Grillet in the style of Pinter and ended up anticipating Nikolaidis. Great little cast too.

  4. Have been meaning to try La Noia for ages — what a cast!

  5. chris schneider Says:

    Once upon a time, in the middle of the night, I saw LA STREGHE IN AMORE on television and liked it. That’s as much of it, alas, as has remained with me.

    I have, however, heard good word-of-mouth about CONFESSIONS OF A POLICE CAPTAIN (1971), a “bent cop” tale directed and co-written by Damiani. Lead performers are Franco Nero and Martin Balsam.

  6. Sound cast — I’d be interested to see it. Instead, however, I am seeking out his scary nun movie with Glenda Jackson (MP).

  7. I liked his IL GIORNO DELLA CIVETTA from 1968 with the impossibly pretty pairing of Franco Nero and Claudia Cardinale.

    Glenda made two nun films in quick succession in the mid 70s(making up for missing out on THE DEVILS perhaps?). The Damiano one can be tracked down online.

  8. Glenda dropped out of The Devils when Ken cut the scenes of Sister Jeanne’s severed head being worshipped as a relic. She has only herself to blame!

    Yes, the Cardinale collab goes on my list too. Next thing you know it’ll be ten years later and I won’t have watched any of them, but maybe not…

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