A group of the great and the good gather at the Countess's estate for the awarding of an art prize. No sooner have they assembled than there is a telephone call, indicating that death will result should the prize be awarded. The group ignores this warning, believing it to be a hoax.
The killer is on the phone, as per usual
The first indication that it is something more comes during a spot of clay pigeon shooting, when one of the participants levels his or her shotgun at the Countess but is thankfully prevented from pulling the trigger by the intercession of another body before the intended target. (There is a nice rapid fire montage of the characters/suspects here.)
Later, after a spot of disco dancing, the countess's niece Melina senses someone enter her room, with a pair of black gloves left at the scene appearing to confirm that someone is indeed after her.
Sometime later, Melina is kidnapped. Then, before the group can decide on a course of action the countess herself is murdered and a valuable old painting stolen...
The police arrive and begin to investigate the case; before the case is closed we will have another couple of characters being blown up by a bomb planted in their car and a third falling to their death in the time-honoured manner...
It wouldn't be a 70s film without some bad wallpaper
Written and directed by Mario Sabatini, this 1974 giallo is the kind of utterly routine production that could probably have just about been made on auto-pilot, with the other checked boxes including some subjective killer-cam; drugs and blackmail subplots slightly reminiscent of Blood and Black Lace or Crazy Desires of a Murderer (a useful reference point, although Delitto d'autore lacks its distinctive languid / morbid atmosphere); a party-cum-orgy; a priest whose spare set of vestments are found in an incriminating place, and some lesbianic sunscreen application by the pool.
It's a harmless way to spend 70 odd minutes – a runtime suggestive either of aspirations towards being little more than programme filler anyway or extensive cuts to the more graphic and exploitative material – but little beyond this, although the cast, with Pier Paolo Capponi, Krista Nell, Sylva Koscina and Luigi Pistilli in prominent roles, is of surprisingly high quality.
The obligatory stairwell shot and dummy plunge
The one moment of inspiration is telling, when we see one of the characters donning a balaclava prior to attempting to steal the painting and being interrupted by the Countess: he at least cannot be the murderer, unless the filmmakers are playing a triple-bluff.
I won't spoil it for you by saying whether this is the case or not, but let's just say that anyone expecting a lost giallo classic is likely to be disappointed.
Once again, thanks to the fine people at Cinemageddon and especially the fansubbers for the opportunity to see another rarity.