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Testa in giù, gambe in aria (1972)



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Cast overview:
Corrado Pani ...
Maria Pia Conte
Andreina Paul
Daniela Caroli
Piero Vida
Filippo De Gara
Diego Della Valle
Bruno Boschetti
Franco Chillemi


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TESTA GIU' GAMBE IN ARIA (Ugo Novello, 1972) **
29 January 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This is surely one of the most obscure "giallo" titles out there (apparently solely available via a singularly battered, non-English- friendly print that belies its relatively young 40 years!): in retrospect, given its mediocre quality, not to mention the tenuous link it has with the genre to begin with, this is not at all surprising! Comedy has always been uneasily incorporated into what amounts to a violent, garishly-coloured form (not that the film under review has much of either!), and this certainly does not prove the exception to the rule – here involving the moody hero's hot/cold rapport with his burly pal at work (voiced by Enrico Maria Salerno!). There are also a number of gratuitous nude scenes (including protagonist Corrado Pani's butt!), appalling costumes that scream 1970s (especially an outrageously revealing one worn at a party by leading lady Marina Malfatti) and an incongruously cheerful score (we even get the obligatory nightclub dance floor sequence, where the male lead unwisely attempts to explain his current predicament to his dancing partner amid the blaring noise!). Incidentally, the title – which translates to "Head Down, Feet Up" – refers to the hero's half-hearted attempts to practice yoga; I wonder whether it could have been inspired by Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western GIU' LA TESTA aka DUCK, YOU SUCKER (1972)!

The plot basically deals with a graphic artist who gets entangled in a wave of killings of university professors: he becomes quite obsessed (copiously collecting newspaper cut-outs related to it) after dreaming about himself as an adult turning up for an exam (in an open-air venue – filmed for maximum disorienting effect with a fish-eye lens – and actually resembling more a job interview!), in which not only the assessors are the murder victims but he personally starts bleeding at the wrist!! One of them, however, he runs into at a bar…who turns out to be gay and invites him to walk home together, but he obviously draws the line at the doorstep (the handsome Pani has a girl, Malfatti, but also dallies with an attractive work colleague and even carries on an affair with a middle-aged female patron)! With respect to this general freewheeling attitude to love, when Malfatti becomes pregnant by him and decides to abort (because a child would obviously be inconvenient to her modeling career) without even bothering to inform her lover, Pani gives her a good thrashing and dumps her; hypocritically, though, he had earlier been rendered jealous by the undue attentions given to his girl by an ex-buddy being feted for having made it as a full-fledged artist!

Anyway, when the professor is found dead the morning after the meeting with the hero, the latter decides to follow the tracks of a man the victim had himself indicated as a possible suspect; indeed, he begins to see him everywhere he goes – outside the school and, most distressingly, in front of his own house! So paranoid does he become that, when this person finally approaches him in a dark alley, Pani turns on him and strangles the man…who is revealed the next day to be yet another tutor! Given the protagonist's constantly brooding countenance, it is fair to assume that the film-makers (with whose work I am unfamiliar) intended misleading the viewer into thinking he would emerge as the unwitting serial killer – but, ultimately, they do not even display the courage of their lack of convictions, as the film just peters out without offering so much as a hint of a solution (the nods to BLOW UP {1966} are palpable throughout but, in this case, it feels like the scriptwriters simply ran into a brick-wall!)…apart from having Pani succeed at the titular yoga position at long last!! In the end, if it were not for the ultra-modern trimmings, one would be excused in thinking this emanated from the early days of the "giallo", so timid is its approach to the genre's mechanics!

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