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This little Italian number is superficially similar to the famous
Hitchcock film "Vertigo" in its basic premise and in its San Francisco
location. But I don't recall "Vertigo" having the nude dancing, the
psychedelic body painting, and the abundance of straight and lesbian
sex. And as great an actress as Kim Novak from "Vertigo" may have been,
she was no Marissa Mell. Marissa Mell was a six-foot Austrian
model/actress who became infamous in the late 1960's more for her
antics off-screen than on (her various paramours supposedly included
everyone from Warren Beatty to the Shah of Iran). She was the
archetypal Bond girl, even though she never actually got around to
appearing in a Bond movie. Actually, the only big movie she was ever in
was Mario Bava's pop-art, comic book adaptation "Diabolik". This
obscure movie was probably her second most famous role before her
career fizzled and she died at a young age from cancer. She is
excellent here in the dual role of an asthmatic, dying wife and a
seductive stripper. She also has copious nude scenes (if you're into
that sort of thing).
You might also have heard of the director of this one, guy named Lucio Fulci, made a few zombie movies or something. This is actually the first of a series of superior gialli Fuici directed early in his career (the others were "A Woman in Lizard's Skin" and "Don't Torture a Duckling"). Fulci fans will find the plot of this film to be surprisingly coherent, but will probably be disappointed at the lack of gore (aside from one grisly scene of a post, post-mortem). It also lacks much of the directorial flair Fulci would demonstrate in his later gialli and his zombie films. The last act is particularly weak with one of those tiresome innocent-man-on-death-row countdowns. The very last scene is a pleasant surprise, but by then much of the momentum has been lost. Still, it's definitely worth seeing, for Fulci and Mell if nothing else.
It's hard to believe that this thriller was directed by the same man
who would go on to create such gory highlights as Zombie Flesh-Eaters
and City of the Living Dead, but indeed this is a film from the Lucio
Fulci that us gore hounds know and love. His later Giallo, such as A
Lizard in Woman's Skin and Don't Torture a Duckling weren't as bloody
as Fulci fans are used to, and this one is even less so; in fact, it
isn't even a horror movie. Fulci does find time for graphic images,
however, but things such as a badly decomposed corpse look out of place
in a movie that is much more about mystery and suspense than shocking
its audience. Fulci often doesn't get the respect he deserves when it
comes to movie-making, and that's unfair as he really does know how to
tell a story. One on Top of the Other focuses on themes of love and
revenge, and follows the story of a doctor with a wife who suffers from
chronic asthma. After her death, he is enticed to a nightclub along
with his mistress, where he meets a young woman who is the double of
his dead wife. Shortly thereafter, the corpse of his wife is unearthed
and traces of poison are found in the body...
The film takes obvious influence from the great Alfred Hitchcock film 'Vertigo', but unlike a lot of Italian films from the sixties and seventies; this one is not merely a retread of its popular American influence. Fulci injects his own style and verve into the plot, and common Giallo elements such as crossed loyalties and compromising situation for the lead victim start to creep in. The acting on display here is superb, with Jean Sorel putting in a fabulous performance in the lead role in which he manages to captivate the audience and be convincing at the same time. The female leads are more striking; however, and both Marisa Mell and Elsa Martinelli get to act as well providing beautiful eye candy for the audience. Unlike a lot of Giallo's, this one takes place outside of Italy and makes San Francisco the central location. The landscapes look great, and the original jazz music by Riz Ortolani helps to ensure that swinging sixties feel comes across. There is a lack of murders in this film, which may disappoint Giallo and Fulci fans; but the intrigue that appears instead offsets this nicely, and overall I don't hesitate to say that One on Top of the Other is one of the great Giallo films!
Una sull'altra, which is more likely better known as One on the top the
other is hard movie to categorize to a single genre. It has as much
erotic and exploitative elements as it has elements from pre-giallos
like Mario Bava's excellent Blood and black lace and his older work,
Girl who knew too much. It isn't as psychedelic as Fulci's other
giallos like Lizard in a woman's skin or as tense as his Don't torture
a duckling or Sette notes in nero. Una sull'altra doesn't contain any
gore or splatter either. Still, however, I found it very entertaining
and I would even say it's one of the best non-gore movies from Fulci
I've seen (and trust me on this one, I've seen lots of them too).
Movie follows a basic giallo structure, even though it was made in the same year with "the first actual giallo", Dario Argento's fabulous L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo, and in the way that it doesn't rip-off that movie as many other giallos does. That's why I cannot really say honestly that I found this one to be real giallo, but more like pre-giallo.
What comes to the plot of the movie, it's not really as simple as it might seem, but has many twists and misleads when police are trying to find out how the things really are (who is lying, who is telling the truth). Really nice twists and turns, I couldn't tell at the whole time how did what (and what comes to that matter, even who was who). Ending was really nicely surprising too, I really enjoyed it.
So, if you are bored with Fulci's not as good non-gore movies or if you just want a quick peak to the fantastic world of pre-giallos, One on top of other is highly recommended. At the scale of 1 to 10, I would give it 9, this movie really deserves it.
This is not a giallo film, nor is it in the lines of the fun but more
exploitative Fulci film THE DEVIL'S HONEY. Nor is it a horror film,
though you should watch fast for a Fulci cameo as a doctor in the
film's one very gruesome moment. It has some nice well thought out plot
twists and a fun 1960's San Francisco atmosphere. It's a very well made
film on all levels.
This deserves a decent release as most copies look like crud. The film is well staged in and around San Francisco and features ample but appropriate nudity.
The whole things builds momentum and suspense with an especially cleverly done ending. Also watch for the use of mirror and mirror images throughout the film. Unlike many Euro films from this era it is also well acted and decently dubbed into English. It actually looks like it was all shot in English as there is none of the usual rubbery lip sync.
Fulci was not a one trick pony director (as the better known Dario Argento definitely is) and if you're interested in seeing his diversity, see this film. If all you want is horror look elsewhere.
Doctor George Dumurrier(Jean Sorel)is a handsome and rich man who has his own private medical clinic.He is married to Susan(Marisa Mell),but their marriage is unhappy as his wife feels neglected.George has long-time mistress named Jane but he doesn't want to leave Susan while her health is deteriorating.When Susan suddenly dies Dumurrier encounters a stripper who looks strikingly similar to his late wife.Gorgeously photographed giallo obviously inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo".There is plenty of sex and steamy eroticism plus a little bit of violence.I particularly enjoyed Marisa Mell's performance as a cunning femme fatale.San Francisco seeped in late 60's hippie psychedelia is a perfect setting.There is a brief moment of gore when rotting corpse Fulci style is shown.No black gloved killers with childhood traumas,though.8 death rows out of 10.
Pretty decent stab at an erotic thriller from the Goremeister General.
It's all the things you would want: stylish, sexy, and gripping. It's
also crisply shot and has an excellent Riz Ortolani score. Again, the
dubbing is pretty ropey but if, by this point, you're seeking out some
of Fulci's lesser-known works then it's safe to assume you've made your
peace with this constant problem.
Marissa Mell is great as the femme fatale and Elsa Martinelli is cool and chic as the devoted mistress who, despite herself, can't stop believing in her man. In fact, the female performances are much stronger than the men, probably because Jean Sorel doesn't have much to do except wander around with his shirt off, looking bewildered.
Great photography of San Francisco, looking as good - if not better - than in BULLITT. There's also a fine cameo from Jean Sobieski, for connoisseurs of louche photographers in movies.
The only real problem is that the film isn't quite gripping enough. The premise is set up well in the first half hour or so, and the suspense and mystery sustained during the kinky interludes in the middle, but all is revealed through a clumsy expository scene with about 20 minutes remaining and after that it runs out of steam.
Well worth a look though.
Unlike most of the early 1970s gialli this film has several classic elements of late 60s films, from the go go dancing to the sultry, almost cheezy, jazzy orchestra soundtrack, to the melodramatic, emotion-laden lovemaking scenes. It's more erotic than most gialli, and clearly straddles the boundary between Mario Bava's visual style --emphasizing shadows and contrast, and typical early 70s gialli. What really makes the film so great its ability to hold a level of tension -- visible in various characters' expressions and actions, especially the main character -- and suspense to make it a truly great thriller. And to do so relatively bloodlessly. The dialogue while dubbed is also quite clever and there are many scenes that are smart in their own right -- such as when Monica and George are hanging out in her San Fran 'pad' while he is confused and she is playing solitaire and telling him to answer the door. Definitely worth watching, for any fan of Italian thriller/gialli!
This may not be a horror film or even strictly a giallo but still it's a top notch sex and psychedelic dressed mystery that is a must see for fans of mid sixties to mid seventies Italian cinema. Perhaps more restrained than one might expect from Fulci and the pace a little uneven but this film looks so good! Great cinematography with splendid sweeping scenic shots of San Francisco and playful quirky close-ups that make one gasp. Full of delights such as the photo shoots, the nightclub sequences as well as the splendid use of the locations plus a super soundtrack from Riz Ortolani and not forgetting plenty of colourful nudity. The conclusion is sensational and the death row sequences suitably creepy and if there is more than a whiff of Hitchcock, whose complaining? Excellent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lucio Fulci may be best known for his zombie splatter-fests and that's
a shame because he's really so much more than that. If you see the name
Fulci and expect a gore-fest, you'll be disappointed. This one is even
more bloodless than his other Gialli. But if you want a solid Italian
thriller, you've discovered a real winner. I have no reservations about
placing One on Top of the Other near the top of the list of the 60-odd
Gialli I've seen. One on Top of the Other actually features very few,
if any, horror elements. Instead, the movie focuses on two of the other
Giallo trademarks sleaze and mystery. And Fulci does a fantastic job
with both. As for the sleaze, there's probably more nudity and sex in
this movie than in Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin and Don't Torture
a Duckling combined. As for the mystery elements, Fulci fills the film
with enough red herrings and other mystery tricks for two or three
movies. I was completely engrossed and entertained form the opening
credits. Solid cinematography, nice San Francisco locations, an
outstanding Riz Ortolani score, above average acting, and Marisa Mell
make One on Top of the Other a new favorite of mine.
My only complaint (and it is admittedly a small one) is the amount of screen time showing the film's protagonist sitting on death row waiting to die. A little tighter editing during this 10 or so minute segment might have helped make One on Top of the Other the best Giallo I've ever seen.
I mentioned Marisa Mell in the opening paragraph and if you're a fan, you owe it to yourself to track down a copy of One on Top of the Other. She never looked better and I've never seen so much of her. Her motorcycle striptease scene is worth the price of admission. Check it out!
Come on, Anchor Bay give us that Region 1 release!
This crime drama from the director who was to become the Italian
about ten years later delivers an interesting story about relationships,
jealousy and , of course, murder. In the end, the film even becomes a
statement against the death penalty (the story takes place in the
Although there are certain elements of giallo in here, I wouldn't call "Una sull'altra" a giallo; it's really a rather classic crime story concerning "indecent affairs" (on which some of the English titles refer).
All in all a good film, although the average Fulci-fan probably will be disappointed about the lack of any gore in this one.
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