Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Una sull'altra" (1969) d/ Lucio Fulci

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One of the main reasons I decided to keep with the Italian genre motif from last October for the site's return (besides my discreetly extreme favorable prejudice towards it!), was the volume of lesser known, underrated gems I'd lined up for you before my latest computer crash, and I just couldn't ignore some of these for another twelve months or the next gimmicky month I happen to dream up between then. Granted, I've been trudging you through some oddities of little renown and even less concern this month, but tonight, your patience has been rewarded with the first Fulci review I've got on tap.  
A Lucio-verture of lush cinematography, beautiful women in various states of undress, and epic treachery is what you'll be treated to, and just what you'd expect from a film proponent of Fulci's level of mastery while he was at his very best. Helping him to realize his vision are Jean Sorel, familiar to genre fans from his turns in  A Lizard in a Woman's Skin  and The Short Night of Glass Dolls (both 1971), as well as 1973's Day of the Jackal, and Marisa Mell, who'd previously worked with no less than Mario Bava himself on Danger: Diabolik a year earlier, later appearing in giallo fave, Seven Bloodstained Orchids (1972). The excellent score was famously provided by the iconic Riz Ortolani. Let's get on top of this one, shall we?

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I see what you did there, Lucio.
It seems there's this doctor in San Francisco named Dumerrier (Jean Sorel), who's anchored to a money pit clinic that he runs with his brother (Alberto de Mendoza) and  prior marriage vows to his sickly, asthmatic wife, Susan (Marisa Mell), which are keeping him from running off for good with his healthier paramour, Jane (Elsa Martinelli). Of course, he's not all conscience, this one, as he's left his wheezing burden in the charge of a nurse named Betty as he leaves on a trip to secure some crucial financial backing for the clinic. Just kidding, he's off galavanting at the casino with his fidanzata, Jane, when news of his wife's sudden death is delivered to him, along with some insurance policy mumbojumbo about a two million dollar policy that he's the sole heir of. Something about sedatives mistaken for asthma medication... Of all the lucky breaks a guy can would think.

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Guardate! Eccolo.
Soon afterwards, George excuses himself from dinner with Jane to receive an anonymous call, suggesting he check out the headliner at the local strip club, where the good doctor is taken by a certain female sex performer named Monica, who just so happens to be identical to his late wife, save for eye and hair color. Che coincidenza! Such a coincidence, in fact, that George gets slapped into a jail cell, while Monica is taken in for questioning, herself. As you might have imagined, there are several dizzying directions the mysterious narrative can veer off on from here, and Fulci masterfully explores all possibilities before revealing the true course of the film's script, which he also co-wrote, The formula is successful, and the resulting genre staple twists and turns, which I will leave for you to discover on your own when you score yourselves a copy from the fine folks who've made it available over at Severin, bring it all to a very satisfying climax, thanks to another spoiler-free wrap up here from your pal, Wop.
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Fulci crea una Godiva moderna. C'e' spazio su di esso per un uomo come tutti gli uomini e nessun uomo? 
I feel like the maestro was at the top of his game during the period in which this film was made, and along with Beatrice Cenci (1969), Una lucertola con la pelle di donna aka/ A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971), and Non si sevizia un paperino aka/ Don't Torture a Duckling (1972), representing the director's strongest work; a perfect introduction to film buffs that might otherwise ignore his vast artistic merits on the notoriety that his later, more exploitative efforts would be met with, outside of the gore crowd. There are touches of that Lucio here to behold, as well, a mere hint of the floodgates of violence he would help to open later in the decade. I'd suggest that One on Top of the Other, Perversion Story, whatever title you choose to refer to it by, is a must-see for anybody interested in catching some top shelf cinema, regardless of what that person's personal cinematic preference might be. On the scale, the four Wops of perfection have again been bestowed upon the genius that is Lucio Fulci. Recommended.

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Holy smokes! Jessica Lange could use a V8.
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