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A rich widow is found dead of gas poisoning in her flat in Helsinki. First the death is thought to be an accident, but lieutenant Palmu notices that the murderer has made a mistake, and Palmu and his assistants Kokki and Virta start an investigation into who has broken into the apartment through the balcony door and opened the gas tap when Mrs. Skrof was sleeping.
Kaasua, Komisario Palmu (1962) is based loosely on the short novel written by the critically acclaimed Finnish author, Mika Waltari. This black and white thriller, shot on location in Helsinki, Finland, still continues to stand even today as one of the most celebrated and memorable landmarks in the short and relatively unnoticeable history of Finnish cinematography.
The canvas on which this movie is painted is a familiar one. A wealthy old religious patron raises a disobedient and mentally disturbed niece - until she all of a sudden drops dead as the result of a murder made to look like an accident. A grouchy, elderly superintendent (Joel Rinne) and his young and overly enthusiastic assistant are called in to investigate. And there certainly is a lot to look into, since the deceased had few friends, but many enemies. Almost everyone seems to have not only a motive but also something to hide; the question is, who acted on their motive and took matters into their own hands?
The typical modern murder mystery emphasizes the victim's unjust fate, and in the end pursues to punish the perpetrator. This thriller on the other hand tends to play with your mind. Not only does it drop clues here and there, some more noticeable than others, but the actors put on such a convincing and exciting show, that the corpse at the morgue is quickly forgotten. If anyone ends up gaining the viewer's sympathy, it is the murderer, or the long line of possible suspects, and not so much the actual victim. And once it is all said and done, the question is, who in fact was the real victim?
If you have the opportunity to see this old thriller, take it. You'll be glad you did.
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