Thursday, September 01, 2005

Duel of genres

"The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh", a giallo which finds its resolution in a western.

This is another example of the great ideas Sergio Martino came up with for his very first giallo. As we're about to unveil the key to the story, the film brutally switches from typical giallo codes (black gloves, blades, darkness, mystery, light eroticism) to overt western elements (desert, guns, bright daylight, dust, close-ups on the eyes and... a duel).
Daring is the least I can say.

And we buy into it, as the photography remains consistent.
Martino has a fashion designer's eye. Every little detail or accessory seems to be thought of as if it was crucial to the beauty of the overall picture, just like in a fashion shoot. "Killing in style" has never been more appropriate: the flat's interior design, Julie and Carol's clothes and shopping session, Jean's threatening beauty, George's playboy apparel....

Even Nora Orlandi's great music never forgets to be elegant, whatever happens in the film. The score works like the final touch in many scenes - and capriciously disappears when you expect it to come back: like in this final western-like duel scene, for example.

Aesthetically mixing different styles together is the specificity of what the Italians call "filone": contrary to the genres - a very anglo-saxon concept which requires a clear and definitive definition of its components -, filone ignore boundaries, evolve over time and can borrow from each other without losing any of their strength. Just like rivers.

Read the very insightful analysis about genre vs filone by Gary Needham here.
More about this great giallo from this blog there.


meddle said...

I absolutely love Nora Orlandi's score for The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. My favorite shot in the film is the reflecting sunglasses shot.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff! and togheter with I CORPI PRESENTANO TRACCE DI VIOLENZA CARNALE (Torso) and IL TUO VIZIO È UNA STANZA CHIUSA E SOLO IO NE HO LA CHIAVE (Your vice is a closed door and only I have the key) undoubtly one of Martino's best gialli.

Regarding the western thematics I came to think of one of my all time favourites Pasquale Festa Campanile's AUTO STOP ROSSO SANGUE (Hitch Hike) which plays beautifully with genre conventions, mixing western and krimi to great effetct!

/Bengt, Sweden