"Mystére, remember - play it cool."
The day after a German man named Reinhardt (Peter Berling) snaps photos of a political assassination at the Piazza di Spagna, he hires two prostitutes - bubbly blonde Pamela (Janet Agren) and French vamp Mystére (Carole Bouquet) - for some late-night entertainment. Pamela steals Reinhardt's gold cigarette lighter and drops it into Mystére's handbag, not knowing that it contains the incriminating negatives of the killing. But she soon discovers that a dapper stranger in white spats, armed with a bladed cane is willing to kill to get it back. With people dying around her, Mystére reluctantly turns to American police Inspector Colt (Phil Coccioletti) for help. Can she trust this detective who seems immune to her charms? Can they figure out what the killer wants and outsmart their assailants? And who is the man in the white spats?
Murder Near Perfect (which is equally well-known as Mystére and is sometimes known as Dagger Eyes) is a fascinating later giallo that incorporates elements of an espionage thriller. Carole Bouquet is no stranger to this world, having appeared in For Your Eyes Only just a few years before. Despite some logic problems and plot holes, this movie has a fast, exciting pace, good moments of suspense and some well-played mis-directs. I was shocked when the killer was revealed halfway through the film, but then pleasantly surprised to find that there was another mastermind behind the assassination plot.
- This is a movie about a prostitute but features absolutely no nudity.
- In a nod do Dario Argento's Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Mystére keeps flashing back to the last time she saw Pamela, sure that she was forgetting an important clue.
- Setting the beginning of the movie at the Spanish Steps might be a reference to the first giallo, Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much.
- The assassination in the prologue plays out exactly like the JFK assassination, with a motorcade, an open car, a crowd on the street, shots ringing out - back and to the left! - and a shadowy figure in a high window as the security agents scramble into action.
- It should be noted that in real life cars aren't allowed at the Spanish steps.
- There's a montage of Mystére putting on her makeup before going to work, like she's putting on armor to protect herself from the world. It's reminiscent of a similar scene with Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream.
- The title Murder Near Perfect bears no relation to the movie, but both of the alternate titles are far more apt.
What the Hell Am I Watching?
Mystére is a high-end prostitute who charges thousands of dollars per night, drives a sleek sports car and has a killer wardrobe. So why does she work the corner like a common hooker?
For her first job of the night, an old man pays Mystére $1000 to undress, touch his wife's shoulder for five seconds and then leave. It is an incomprehensible scene.
When the killer breaks into her apartment, Mystére defends herself with a bullwhip which, luckily, she had lying around.
For the first half of the movie, Mystére wears black and white exclusively, with an occasional pop of red. With her long dark hair and porcelain complexion, she's giving off serious Morticia Addams realness. Check out these webbed sleeves.
The black and white color scheme reflects her simple worldview - she lives a straightforward life where everyone is upfront about what they want and what they're willing to give in exchange. But when things get a little complicated, we see some shades of gray enter her wardrobe.
When she finds herself for the first time in real danger, she is seen in this bold yellow dress. Outwardly, she may appear confident, but she's really hiding her anxiety. Remember that in Italy yellow (or, in Italian, "giallo") is the color of fear.
At the airport, Mystére thinks she's found love and is ready to settle down. We see her in this retro conservative red polka dot dress with a plunging neckline, like a slutty Donna Reed. As in America, red is the color of love.
But when she realizes that she's been double-crossed, Mystére gets her game face on and goes after what she's owed in this jewel-toned green gown. Green - the color of envy and the color of money.