Sunday, 22 July 2007

Omicidio per vocazione / Deadly Inheritance

When railway worker Oscar is killed in an accident his family – daughters Simone (Femi Benussi), Colette and Rosalie (Jeanette Len / Giovanna Lenzi) and simple-minded adoptive son Janot (Ernesto Colli) – are surprised to learn that the eccentric old man had a considerable fortune, which they are now heirs to.

There is, however, the inevitable catch, as all the money is to be held for the next three years, until Janot reaches 21. Shortly thereafter Janot is himself victim of a not dissimilar accident, parts of his body being scattered all the way down the track.

With suspicions of foul play now hanging over the case – and with good reason, as quickly transpires – Inspector Greville arrives to assist the local police get to the bottom of things...

More a traditional mystery-thriller than a giallo proper, this 1968 French provincial-set entry is an awkward little film that it is difficult to take seriously. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem if, like Michele Lupo's thematically not too dissimilar but technically far more accomplished Weekend Murders, the comedic tone was clearly intentional, but as it is first-time director and co-writer Vittorio Sidoni delivers more bungled than effective scenes and a somewhat obvious shock resolution that leaves as many questions as it answers.

The opening / credits sequence seem to sum up his aspirations and failure to meet them: while we later learn that Oscar did not hear notice the oncoming train until it was way too late on account of his hearing aid being out of commission to explain away / motivate the way in which the sound of the train would drops out every time the camera cut back to him, its sheer duration, at around three minutes, takes what could have / should have been suspenseful and turns it into something more akin to a surrealistic parody. (I was reminded of the charging knight in Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail who suddenly appears right in front of the observer, having been hitherto in the extreme distance, crossed with the woman repeatedly climbing the same stairs in René Clair's Entr'acte and from there back to Abel Gance's La Roue; who says liking Eurocult means lacking a wider film culture :-))

On the plus side Omicidio per vocazione / L' Assassino ha le mani pulite / Deadly Inheritance film does feature an enjoyably trashy score from Stefano Torossi – the title music sounds like the Peter Gunn theme with kitchen sink percussion playing over it – whilst Benussi and Colli are always welcome to reacquaint oneself with, even if the latter's distinctive looks mean that he's about as convincing as an 18-year-old as Peter Bark was as a child in Zombie: Nights of Terror, unless by a stroke of inspiration this was the entire point...

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