|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Raphael (Marcello Mastroianni), a restaurant mandolin player with a
limp, a father to support, and a lot of debt, accepts a job offered by
his friend, Giardino, to play a serenade under an apartment window at
the behest of a mysterious blonde. As he's playing, a man high up on a
balcony is pushed to his death. The apartment belongs to a famous
conductor who promises to help Raphael's musical career if he can find
out who the blonde was so the musician pays a call on Giardino only to
see him come sailing out the window. Raphael soon finds himself up to
his neck in murder, gangsters, blackmail, and a long-ago crime dating
back to World War II when he becomes involved with the maestro's
daughter-in-law (Ornella Muti), a nurse at a nearby mental hospital...
Using the giallo genre and its conventions as background, this comedy is a showcase for the puppy dog persona of it's star, Marcello Mastroianni, who's never offscreen for a moment. With his mop of curly hair and Chaplinesque mustache, Raphael, a harried "everyman", is a sympathetic figure who unwittingly becomes embroiled in a mystery with beautiful women, a gay, and even a transvestite coming on to him at every opportunity. A typical comedy hero, Raphael's also the only character to come out on top at the end. If this film had been laughing at the darkness instead of in it, it might have made a fairly funny black comedy; the convoluted plot would have made a good giallo if played straight minus Mastoianni but, as it stands, this mildly amusing tale's laughs come from his character's reactions to what happens all around him. Typical situation: when Giardino yells to Raphael from his apartment, "I'll be right down!", he's pushed from his window and lands at the musician's feet. Mastroianni's leading lady, the breath-takingly beautiful Ornella Muti, makes a seductive heroine/femme fatale and Euro-babe Zeudi Araya is also on hand as an oversexed opera singer. International star Capucine has a small but pivotal role as a most attractive nun. In real life, Capucine killed herself by jumping from her apartment highrise. Giallo geeks are bound to be disappointed in GIALLO NAPOLETANO but Marcello Mastroianni's admirers should be pleased. Some nice Naples locations and Riz Ortolani's score aside, give me the following year's GIALLO A VENEZIA any day!
Defenestration as murder weapon was used in gialli a decade earlier in TRUMPET OF THE APOCALYPSE starring sex-kitten Romina Power.
It's hard to know what kind of audience the people who made this film had in mind. Riz Ortolani's music, Marcello Mastroianni's naive but good-hearted character and the occasional gags seem to suggest a comedy, but the picture isn't funny enough to be a comedy. The plot (which you will need a scorecard to keep straight, and even then you'll probably fail) and the original Italian title seem to indicate a thriller, but it's not thrilling enough to be a thriller. It has a good cast (including Ornella Muti, who is literally "dreamily beautiful" here - you can barely believe that a woman so beautiful is real and not just a dream), but it wastes it in insignificant roles. Out of respect for these actors, and for one funny scene with Marcello and a beefy hood who's forcing him to walk up some stairs, I give this film ** out of 4.
This is an interesting film. It is an Italian giallo to some extent as
the title suggests, but it sits a little uneasily in that genre because
it is also very much an A-list film with heavyweight actors like
Marcello Mastroanni. The female lead Ornella Muti had been in an
earlier giallo ("Oasis of Fear") and several other B-movie genre films,
but she too was really on the verge of international stardom by 1978.
Director Sergio Corbucci meanwhile was certainly famous for genre
films, but not for gialli--his specialty was spaghetti westerns, where
he was undoubtedly the second most esteemed director next to Sergio
This also has an element of (completely intentional)comedy that puts it somewhat add odds with most giallo thrillers, and it really dials back both the graphic violence and the sex and nudity. It probably has as much in common with the Hollywood comedy-thriller "Foul Play" that came out the same year as it does with most other Italian gialli. Mastroanni plays a mandolin player who, while trying to cover his senile father's gambling debts, is sent to perform a serenade at a high rise building and witnesses a shootout and a man being thrown from a window to his death (the first of several falls from windows that the beleaguered hero witnesses). He gets mixed up with a famous conductor and his gorgeous wife (Zeudi Araya) as well as with the conductor's beautiful daughter-in-law (Muti). The whole thing involves a confusingly intricate blackmail plot and a horrible secret dating back to World War II. There's a really good twist at the end.
Mastroanni was every bit as talented as any Hollywood actor and quite a bit more daring when it came to taking offbeat roles (i.e. he was in Roman Polanski's insane black comedy "What?" a few years before this and the next year he appeared with a "barely legal" Nastassia Kinski in the incest-themed sex romp "Stay the Way You Are"). Ornella Muti and Zeudi Araya both bring breathtaking beauty and a good deal of glamor to their roles. Corbucci does a good job directing, showing a flair for both comedy and thrills. And the musical score is also quite superb. It's a little hard (and perhaps a bit unfair) to try to fit this film in with the rest of the giallo genre, but it certainly stands on its own as an interesting, well-made movie.
Marcello Mastroianni plays a Chaplinesque mandolin player complete with
curly hair, funny moustache and silly walk. In order to pay off his
gambling debts, he agrees to play a serenade under somebody's window in
middle of the night. Soon he is surrounded by dead bodies and has to
out who is behind this plot before he is either jailed or thrown out of a
window himself. Other suspects include Ornella Muti as a nurse from a
hospital, Michel Piccoli as a famous conductor and Zeudi Araya as his
If this is supposed to be a comedy it literally falls flat. The sight of people repeatedly falling out of windows is not very funny and neither is the completely over the top gangster character in a fur coat. Only Renato Pozzetto as a police inspector who seems to have graduated from the Inspector Clouseau Academy of clumsiness (with a degree in Chief Inspector Dreyfus self-mutilation) manages to conjure up some laughs, but his part does not amount to much.
Director Sergio Corbucci does make the most of the beautiful Napoli scenery but the story takes too many different twists and turns. Particularly unnerving is a scene in which Marcello (in drag) starts to make out with Ornella Muti (who is more than 30 years his junior). A more suitable love interest for him would have been Capucine, who is waisted in the small part of a nun. Eventually the plot becomes so confusing that it takes about twenty minutes of talky exposition scenes to clear everything up.
4 out of 10
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