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Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)
"4 mosche di velluto grigio" (original title)

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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 3,523 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 85 critic

A musician is stalked by an unknown killer who's blackmailing him for an accidential killing of another stalker. But is everything what it appears to be?



(screenplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

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Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When the flies start to crawl, so will your flesh... See more »


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PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

25 August 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

4 Flies on Grey Velvet  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Deep Purple was originally considered for the soundtrack. See more »

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Referenced in Opera (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

Very interesting for Argento fans
18 January 2008 | by (Iceland) – See all my reviews

The most elusive of Argento's films has become more legendary than most simply because of the fact that it's been nearly unobtainable in a decent version. Most have had to do with very-below average bootlegs that render some of the film nearly unwatchable, and therefore pretty hard to judge. Recently an above average bootleg was released in terms of visual quality and a lot of scenes come to life and one is finally in a position to judge the film as a whole.

Story wise, Four Flies on Grey Velvet doesn't win any awards but it's a good set up for a thriller. Drummer Roberto Tobias (Michael Brandon) accidentally kills a stalker and is photographed while doing so. The masked fiend who snapped the shots starts threatening Roberto, and his wife (Mimsy Farmer) is very worried for her husband. As it turns out, the man who Roberto thinks he killed is very much alive, but not for long. Roberto hires a gay private investigator to find out the truth. Say more and I've ruined everything for the viewer.

If you look at Argento's work as a whole, Four Flies fits in very nicely. You can clearly see a young Argento experimenting with visual tricks that he would later do even better in later films. Story wise, the film is similar to some of his later works and even a bit of a rehash of his earlier ones. Some fundamental psychology concerning repressed guilt and anger (a very recurring theme in Argento's work) and once again the central character is an artist who's thrust into a dangerous world of lunatics and murder. This would be perfected in his next thriller Deep Red.

It's just that the film doesn't have enough material to keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. It drags on too long, many scenes (and not to mention some characters) are almost completely pointless. What's Bud Spencer doing here? He serves no narrative purpose but I'll admit it's fun to see the guy.

Plot wise, this is slim pickens. Argento and fellow writers were lazy this time around. The film has a dynamic start and immediately you're interested. If you've seen The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, my guess is you'll have the culprit here figured out before half time. Plus, there aren't many red herrings here and a lack of suspects make the guess that much easier.

But on to the good things. Certain sequences are very impressive. Brandon's encounter with his stalker in the beginning is beautifully filmed and stylish as hell. A murder that occurs in a park is masterfully realised. Very suspenseful, dreamlike and stylish. Not that dissimilar to Stefania Casini's chase sequence in Suspiria. Another murder sequence that sets up the film's title is also quite impressive. Last but not least the knockout ending (which can finally be appreciated now that there's a decent version available) deserves all the hype it's already gotten. An Argento film is never a complete dud (not even Phantom), it always has some things going for it.

Special nod must also go to Argento for taking things up a nodge and taking some risks. Feeling that the Giallo genre was drying up, Argento comes up with unique ways to keep audiences interested. That special camera, for instance, that captures the last image seen by a deceased person. Well, I've never heard of it and it's quite an idea. You gotta give Argento props for trying new things, even though they don't always work out.

It must be said that Argento should have gone with a different leading man. Michael Brandon is remarkably lifeless in almost every scene he's in. Mimsy Farmer fares better as Brandon's wife and that gay detective provides a few chuckles. That said, most of the comedy here is pretty silly and a little distracting.

But, as said above, this is Argento experimenting with visuals, editing and writing and his later films were better realised. I doubt this film will appeal to very many people but for fans of Argento there's plenty here to savour and enjoy.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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