Thursday, December 15, 2005

Edwige's rival

Milan, 1973. To the melody of a sophisticated easy-listening tune, a beautiful young woman decidedly walks into the hall of a modern building and starts joking with the portier.
From the first second, we know that she will not be the usual Giallo heroine - fragile, scared and vulnerable.

As Gianni Ferrio's beautiful music theme goes on, a choir of singers reveals her name: Valentina.
Valentina is Susan Scott, aka Nieves Navarro. In "Death walks at midnight" (Luciano Ercoli, 1973), she introduces a new feminine figure in the genre: empowered, hot tempered and all but shy; she's the screaming queen with an attitude.
A very interesting feminist take on the Giallo heroine, perfectly symmetric to the usual Edwige Fenech part.

Valentina/Susan Scott is very much at the core of the film and definitely drives it from the start.
Not fully though: the first sequence shows her, a fashion model, being set up by her boyfriend in an experimental photoshoot on drugs - where she becomes the witness of a murder. While she thought the experiment would remain anonymous, the next day she finds herself on the cover of a tabloïd which headline reads: "Valentina under the effect of HDS".

Then she starts being very angry.

If "La Morte accarezza a Mezzanotte" is not a great giallo, it is certainly very sophisticated from a cinematographic point of view, and its score is one of the most interesting I've come accross, clearly contributing to the great aesthetics of the film.

1 comment:

Whiggles said...

Despite being no masterpiece, Death Walks at Midnight is one of my favourite gialli. Nieves Navarro's spin on the giallo heroine is a breath of fresh air after watching so many "Edwige Fenech screams and faints into the arms of her lover" movies, and I wish more had been made with her in the lead. (Its stablemate, Death Walks on High Heels, places her in a more traditional "scream queen" role.) I agree with you about the music, too: a very interesting piece of work.