Archive for April 10, 2020

Break Like a Butterfly

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 10, 2020 by dcairns

Duccio Tessari’s BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY is another of his unusual gialli — it stars Helmut Berger and, I guess, fits Shadowplayer Andre Ferreira’s thesis that the director’s characters are more sympathetic than is usual in the genre. Although, I have to say, this breaks down a little here in that most of them are suspects in a nasty series of murders, so I was a little reluctant to extend the warm hand of fellowship to any one of them, lest he be the killer. Oddly, I haven’t always felt that tension in whodunnits, now that I think of it, so Tessari has done something interesting in problematizing the viewer’s relationship to the characters, or something. Of course, in most whodunnits the people are just hinged cardboard so one’s sympathy is a pretty abstract thing at best.

There’s a murder, and an arrest, and the guy they get, a TV sports presenter (hang him I say) finds a mountain of evidence stacked against him. Which should prove he didn’t do it, in this kind of mystery, but we’ve all seen things like TITLE REDACTED where the killer frames himself in order to take advantage of double jeopardy rules later or FURTHER TITLE REDACTED where his wife helps frame him for related reasons, so I still didn’t feel it was safe to feel bad for the guy who is, after all, I repeat, a TV sports presenter.

I did feel for the chief detective, who, in a running gag, can never get a decent cup of coffee.

When the stack of evidence starts to crumble, it does so via short-sighted witnesses and has a TWELVE ANGRY MEN vibe to it.

Helmut has not much to do for the first two-thirds of the film, though there is heavy hinting that he is somewhat psycho, and he behaves oddly around Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, which doesn’t bode well. The frequent use of this music and the way it jolts into jazz make this film far more successful score-wise than my previous Tessari, A DEATH OCCURRED LAST NIGHT.

The ending is pretty clever and wholly logical, which makes it unusual for this genre, too. Admittedly, one might doubt that anyone would actually do what a character is shown to have done. But at least he COULD do it. Like ADOLN, this is about revenge, and it doesn’t make revenge look like an attractive or wise option, which I approve of.

Elsewhere in Italian genre cinema, in the westerns and poliziotteschi, killing the killer is usually all up-side, though not devoid of risk.