6.7/10
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82 user 131 critic

The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971)

Il gatto a nove code (original title)
A newspaper reporter and a retired, blind journalist try to solve a series of killings connected to a pharmaceutical company's experimental, top-secret research projects and in so doing, both become targets of the killer.

Director:

Dario Argento

Writers:

Dario Argento (based on a story by), Luigi Cozzi (based on a story by) (as Luigi Collo) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Franciscus ... Carlo Giordani
Karl Malden ... Franco Arnò
Catherine Spaak ... Anna Terzi
Pier Paolo Capponi ... Police Supt. Spini
Horst Frank ... Dr. Braun
Rada Rassimov ... Bianca Merusi
Aldo Reggiani Aldo Reggiani ... Dr. Casoni
Carlo Alighiero Carlo Alighiero ... Dr. Calabresi
Vittorio Congia Vittorio Congia ... Righetto (cameraman)
Ugo Fangareggi Ugo Fangareggi ... Gigi the Loser
Tom Felleghy Tom Felleghy ... Dr. Esson
Emilio Marchesini Emilio Marchesini ... Dr. Mombelli
Fulvio Mingozzi Fulvio Mingozzi ... Spimi's man
Corrado Olmi Corrado Olmi ... Morsella
Pino Patti Pino Patti ... Barber
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Storyline

Franco Arno is a blind man that lives with his young niece and makes a living writing crossword puzzles. One night, while walking on the street, he overhears a weird conversation between two man sitting in a car parked in front of a medical institute where genetic experiments are performed. The same night someone breaks in the institute and knocks out a guard. Arno decides to investigate with the help of reporter Carlo Giordani. Written by Giancarlo Cairella <vertigo@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's nine times more suspenseful! See more »


Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Giordani meets Anna Terzi at her father's house is a reference to the scene in the novel The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler where Marlowe first meets Vivian Regan at her father's house. Portions of the dialogue are verbatim. See more »

Goofs

When Carlo and Anna meet at the rooftop cafe for a drink it appears to be late afternoon. A few moments later a waiter replaces an ash tray and when the camera goes back to the couple it is almost totally nighttime. See more »

Quotes

Gigi the Loser: Nobosy's at home, huh? Thanks a lot!
Carlo Giordani: Hell, I didn't know.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original U.S. theatrical release was cut by approximately 20 minutes. The version released by Anchor Bay is the complete 112-minute version. See more »

Connections

References Psycho (1960) See more »

User Reviews

 
Sixth Sense and Nine Avenues.
2 November 2013 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Il gatto a nove code (The Cat O' Nine Tails) is written and directed by Dario Argento. It stars Karl Malden, James Franciscus, Catherine Spaak, Horst Frank, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero and Rada Rassimov. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Erico Menczer.

Blind puzzle solver Franco Arno (Malden) and newspaper man Carlo Giordani (Franciscus) team up to see if they can solve the mystery of the murders that are terrifying the city. With their own lives becoming increasingly in danger, and the lines of investigation splintered all over the place, the men are drawn to the mysterious Terzi Institute where geneticists are tampering with gene patterns…

Argento doesn't like it and the fans are very much divided about the worth of it on the Argento curriculum vitae, yet The Cat O' Nine Tails is a delightfully entertaining oddity.

The plot is labyrinthine with relish on top, spinning the viewers into the same convoluted investigative maze that Messrs Arno and Giordani find themselves in. In fact, it's near genius that it rarely makes sense under inspection, yet still there's a fascinating edge to the story, with its characterisations, sexual kinks and cruel murders, there's a power to the piece that rewards if you can just run with it, buy into Argento's Giallo singed world.

With Malden turning in a great performance and Franciscus performing to a level nobody thought was in him, the lead characters really come to life. Add to that Morricone's creepy jazzy-garde fuelled score underlining the skew-whiff nature of the beast, and Menczer's photography tonally muted, tech credits are at one with the themes ticking away in the narrative, a narrative that has observation, ironically, on vision, sight and minds eye. While there's a couple of rug-pulls jostling for our attention just to keep things twisty.

Then there is the director himself. The Cat O' Nine Tails finds him restrained compared to the excess of style over substance films that would dominate his oeuvre post release of The Cat. That's not to say there isn't style here, there's plenty as Argento dallies in POV, iris vision, and a nifty trick that gives the blind Arno "sight", further ensuring that the supposed handicapped character is the key player and potential saviour of all. A number of scenes are bursting at the seams with suspense, with a cemetery/mausoleum sequence top draw, for sure Argento is firmly getting in his stride here.

It's not a gore movie, something which I personally think has led to some of Argento's fans giving the film the cold shoulder, but it's the tale (or tails of course) and characterisations that hold it up as being under valued. It's a Giallo whodunit flecked with sexual stings and no little amount style draped all over it. 7/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Italy | France | West Germany

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

21 May 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cat o' Nine Tails See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut) | (Super 8-version in 2 parts)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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