July 2017


The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
Arrow Video/MVD
Blu-ray Review By: Jaime Pina

Working as a screenwriter, Dario Argento reached a pinnacle when he collaborated with Bernardo Bertolucci on Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West. In 1970 he decided what he really wanted to do was direct and chose to remake a Hollywood murder mystery based on the book The Screaming Mimi. It turned out that directing films in the Italian “giallo” genre was a perfect fit for Argento and he earned the label “the Italian Hitchcock” from many critics.

Tony Musante (The Incident, Toma) stars as an American writer in Italy trying to cure his writer’s block. His girlfriend is a beautiful model and he is planning a trip back to America but on the way home from picking up a check at the offices of his Italian publisher he witnesses a stabbing. As the police are questioning him he has trouble remembering something he saw that might be important to the case. Since the police have taken his passport, he decides to do some investigating of his own and gets a little too close to the true facts and starts being threatened with murder.

A tight and worthy thriller, the film is rather tame compared to Argento’s later work in many ways. While the murder scenes are quite stylish, especially the stabbing at the camera sequence, they are not as elaborate as later scenes he would stage. There is some blood in the film but certainly not the gore effects that would splatter his later films with crimson. And the music by Ennio Morricone is excellent but not quite the bombastic, progressive rock scores by the likes of Keith Emerson and Goblin that would create such atmosphere in later productions. This is a great film that foreshadows the genius about to explode a little further up the road.

The new Blu-ray by Arrow looks to be of the same great quality as the earlier DVD releases with a sharp picture and crisp sound. The photography is stark compared to the colorful use of lighting he would later employ so this film is almost like a film noir for Argento. Extras include several documentaries including an interview with Argento and two of the film’s stars plus trailers.