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Smile Before Death (1972)

Il sorriso della iena (original title)
After the death of her mother under strange circumstances, a teenage girl quickly begins to suspect that her recently widowed stepfather may be involved.


Silvio Amadio


Silvio Amadio (story), Silvio Amadio | 3 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Jenny Tamburi ... Nancy Thompson (as Luciana Della Robbia)
Silvano Tranquilli ... Marco
Rosalba Neri ... Gianna
Hiram Keller ... Dorothy's Lover (as Hyram Keller)
Dana Ghia ... Magda
Zora Gheorgieva Zora Gheorgieva ... Dorothy
Luigi Antonio Guerra Luigi Antonio Guerra ... Giovanni (as Luigi Guerra)
Fabio Garriba Fabio Garriba


Marco, a penniless nobleman, unhappily married to the rich Dorothy, and her best friend, Gianna is his mistress who, one day kills his wife. He automatically becomes the administrator of her estate - which, however, at the age of twenty it will have to pass to Nancy, Dorothy's daughter from her first bed. Marco retires to live with Gianna in the luxurious villa on the shores of a lake. Here the pretty future heir reaches him, whom he had never known. Nancy has been in a boarding school for a long time and hasn't seen her mother very often. To avoid having to renounce the enjoyment of the rich life, Gianna encourages him to kill the girl. But the man ends up falling in love with her and the same thing happens to Gianna. And there is a surprise visitor.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Horror | Thriller


Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 60245 delivered on 20-4-1972. See more »

User Reviews

Not much to smile about ...
18 February 2010 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

I've pretty much seen all the classics as well as the hidden gems of the Italian sub genre of Giallo, so what remains now are the more obscure and undiscovered gems … If I'm lucky, at least. "Smile before Death" is such a film Giallo connoisseurs have certainly heard about already, but the film remains unavailable on DVD to this day and if you really want to see it you have to be satisfied with a computer ripped bootleg version with poor picture quality and unidentifiable foreign subtitles. "Smile before Death" is not bad, but certainly not great neither (otherwise it would be wider known by now, ha!) This isn't exactly what I would call the most exciting Giallo ever made. It opens promisingly enough, with the murder of a middle-aged woman in a remote country estate. The bedroom door was locked from the inside when they found the body and her throat was slit with a piece of glass that was found in her hand, so the police close the case as suicide. The teenage daughter Nancy comes to the estate and befriends her mother's best friend, a photographer, as well as her handsome lover. The initially shy Nancy is quickly drawn into the sleazy world of nude modeling and the sexual affection of mature men. She doesn't know, however, that the clue to solving her mother's dead lies with these same people and that she's actually an obstacle in the killer(s) complete fiendish scheme. "Smile before Death" a stylish but sadly dull and underwhelming mystery thriller. Apart from the murder on the mother near the beginning, which is shown repeatedly and at least three times, there's nothing even remotely suspenseful going on. I remember from "Amuck" – the other Giallo by Silvio Amadio – that the director is more interested in the naked bodies of his lead actresses than in suspense and gruesome killing. I can't say I blame him, especially when working with Rosalba Neri, but the lack of excitement here is really intolerable. The theme song is great but overused and after a while I got sick and tired of staring at the young lead actress' naked body. That's never a good sign. Patient viewers will be rewarded with an acceptably entertaining – albeit predictable and derivative – climax, but it's too late to safe the movie. One of the most disappointing Gialli I ever saw.

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Release Date:

4 May 1972 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Death Before the Smile See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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