The Perfect Crime

The Perfect Crime
It's so beautiful being rich. Money is everything.
After business tycoon Sir Ronald Selmer's plane explodes in mid-air, three Vice Presidents, Paul De Revere (Leonard Mann), Sir Arthur Dundee (Joseph Cotten) and Sir Harold Boyd (Adolfo Celi) stand to inherit his position of power. Each man's ambitions lead them to conspire against each other and it seems that nothing is off-limits - including murder. But each killing is so cleverly made to look like an accident that Inspector Hawks (Anthony Steel) finds it difficult to connect the dots. Who will be the last man standing?
The Perfect Crime (not to be confused with literally dozens of other movies with the same title) is a fun late-period giallo where the audience is always allowed to stay one step ahead of the police. Groovy music, fast cars and opulent settings add to the style factor and the fast-moving plot makes it a fun watch right up to the end, buttoned with a winking reveal.  The cast is a spectacular array of stars including Joseph Cotten (from nearly every major Orson Wells production), Adolfo Celi (a James Bond alum, featured in Who Saw Her Die?), Susperia's Alida Valli, Blood & Black Lace's Franco Ressel and Fulci alum Janet Agren. There's even a cameo by the great Maria Tedeschi, who seems to have made a living off her cameos in giallo movies.

  • The original Italian title translates as Investigation of a Perfect Crime.
  • I'm going to say that the title does make sense because, while the audience finds out the identity of the killer - spoiler alert - he doesn't get caught in the end. Also, I didn't check "Inept Police" above, because they do everything in their power to catch the killer but were simply outsmarted.
  • Check out the background of Paul's office - it looks like he has a painting by Margaret Keane, as seen in Tim Burton's film Big Eyes.
 What the Hell Am I Watching?

Let's talk about the scene where Sir Harold's wife, Gloria (Janet Agren) sneaks off after a fox hunt to have some grownup time with two guys at the same time.

...Or the time Sir Arthur sends his girlfriend to seduce and murder Sir Harold.

This movie features one of the most ingenious kill scenes in recent memory. The killer slips into Sir Arthur's bedroom at night and zaps him with an electromagnet gun. When the police arrive the next morning, it looks like he had a heart attack caused by a malfunctioning pacemaker.

Fashion Moment

The clothes in The Perfect Murder are well-chosen for a cast of rich English socialites in the 1970's. Which is to say, they're expensive-looking, conservative and boring. Nothing says old money like fox hunting gear.

Except maybe a double-breasted suit.

Further proof of my theory that no one looks good in double breasted suits.

Polly (Gloria Guida) did get to glam it up (tastefully) in one scene, though, but she was hidden by the table.


The Hand of the Assassin

The Hand of the Assassin

Don't pay attention. The drugs make me say more than I want.

Just as Margarita (Katia Loritz) and Romano (José Caffarel) are closing their hotel for the season, the place fills up, as a group of travelers are stranded by a storm, which has cut the power and phone lines. That night at dinner, while Margarita is singing a song in the darkness to entertain her guests, one of the visitors, Oscar, is murdered and his suitcase filled with cash is stolen. Who could have done it? Oscar's heroin-addicted wife, Elena (Perla Cristal)? Shifty salesman Suarez (Fernando Sancho)? Or maybe the high-strung old grandmother (Julia Delgado Caro) isn't as feeble as she looks. As the mystery unfolds, more guests turn up dead. With no help from the police, the other guests must find the killer before it's too late.

The Hand of the Assassin (not to be confused with A... For Assassin) is a rare but well-made early Spanish giallo that borrows both gothic conventions and a Bava-esque visual language.  The cinematography by Victor Monreal is really remarkable, combining some beautiful compositions and unexpected camera movement with a painterly sense of shadows, light and color. The basic locked-room murder mystery plot is augmented by interesting characters, some great twists and a coda featuring an exciting chase scene around a series of bridges and waterfalls. Check this one out.

  • The direct translation of the Spanish title is The Face of the Assassin.
  • The Italian title is L'Assassino é Tra Noi Sette, or The Killer is Among Us Seven, which makes zero sense because there are at least a dozen suspects.  Six years later, the similarly titled The Killer is One of Thirteen would be released.
  • This movie features one of my all-time favorite giallo actors - George Rigoud as the Colonel. You may remember him from The Case of the Bloody Iris, Death Walks on High Heels and A Lizard in Woman's Skin
  • Please note that the José Ferrer in this cast is not the Academy Award-winning José Ferrer from Laurence of Arabia and Cyrano de Bergerac.
  •  Much like Bava's 1971 classic Twitch of the Death Nerve (a.k.a. Bay of Blood), this film features a professor who collects insect specimens.
  • The title "sort of" makes sense because it's so generic. Yes, the killer used their hands to murder people (as opposed to a gun), but hands aren't a clue or a plot point in any way. Maybe it would make more sense if they left a unique ring mark on their victims' necks after strangling them.
What the Hell am I Watching?

 Early in the movie butler Paolo goes down to the "mineral cellar," which is a large, creepy room filled with bubbling cauldrons of dry ice. Throughout the movie this is treated as a normal thing that hotels have in their cellars.

Fashion Moment

There's not a lot to report here, but former actress Margerita seems to enjoy standing out from the crowd. When we first meet her, she's lazing around the empty hotel in this frilly nightgown, not giving any f's.

But she spends most of the rest of the movie in a leopard print top - a flashy contrast to her guests' more conservative solid-colored attire.