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Luc Merenda plays a man who as a result of a car crash is suffering from amnesia and is trying to learn about his past, then a menacing individual accuses him of betrayal and is lured into Italy where he finds that he is married man, soon afterwards more pieces of his puzzling past begin to fall in place. Written by
Puzzle aka Man without memory aka Uomo senza memoria, L' (1974)
Eight months after a near fatal car crash in London, Peter Smith (Luc Merenda)is still unsure of his real id, the only clue he has is the car was rented to someone by that name, the name he now goes under. His doctors say that through his sub conscious he is deliberately hiding his past, out of fear. He is introduced to a man, Philip, who claims his real name is in fact Ted and who claims that he, Ted/Peter is a conman, Ted/Peter can neither corroborate or deny the accusations, one thing for sure though is the man has a grudge against him, they go to Peter's apartment to discuss matters but Philip is shot and killed by an assailant with a rifle on the building opposite, Peter then receives a telegram which claims to be from his wife who lives in Portofino, Italy, and after hiding the body flees the scene.
Sara his wife (Senta Berger) has put her missing husband behind her now and has moved on to a new friendship with Daniel Reinhardt (Umberto Orsini), the local swimming coach , she has also befriended one of his pupils, Luca, a keen swimmer and amateur photographer who has a bit of a crush on her. On the eve of her husband's arrival she is attacked and drugged in her own home by an unseen assailant but the motive is unclear as nothing was taken, the police are baffled. On his arrival Peter is unable to recognize his estranged wife and is prompted by a red haired stranger as to her identity. Sara regails their past to an inquisitive Ted, she tells of their whirlwind relationship, and the fact that she never really knew what business he was in, just that it was secret work that may have involved antiques. "Who am I ? He pleads "a dirty rotten bastard " she replies and every one seems to agree!. Ted/Peter is shocked to find out that Sara had not in fact sent the telegram, Ted tells her they may be in danger and that the killer has arranged it that way, but what is his motive? Puzzle shies away from the usual clichés of the genre and in so doing it turns out to be a rather slow and plodding affair, who the killer is? is always an important part of any Giallo and there are many suspects in the film, is Sara somehow involved?..is she really his wife is he really Ted? could it be the red haired stranger who introduces himself as George (Bruno Corazzari) who claims to have saved his life, could it be Daniel, the friend of Sara or perhaps the mysterious blonde Mary (an underused Anita Strindberg) or could it even be the helpful policeman? well to anyone with a knowledge of Gialli, it will be pretty obvious. Puzzle isn't bad in any way, it just doesn't excel or excite, the way a Giallo should, the second half of the film is better when the pace builds but if feels more like your regular crime film as opposed to that of a Giallo, the performances of the three main leads are all good but there is a distinct lack of great set pieces but the best kill is saved until the end when the real killer is revealed. The film does however seem to foreshadow scenes from both TCM(1974) and The Shining(1980). Not essential Giallo by any means but an enjoyable way to pass 90 mins.
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