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Il Gatto a Nove Code

The Cat o' Nine Tails
Le Chat à Neuf Queues / Die Neunschwänzige Katze

Italy/France/West Germany 1971
produced by
Salvatore Argento for Seda Spettacoli, Labrador Films, Terra Filmkunst
directed by Dario Argento
starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi, Horst Frank, Cinzia De Carolis, Rada Rassimov, Aldo Reggiani, Carlo Alighiero, Werner Pochath, Tino Carraro, Vittorio Congia, Ugo Fangareggi, Tom Felleghy, Emilio Marchesini, Fulvio Mingozzi, Corrado Olmi, Pino Patti, Umberto Raho, Jacques Stani, Maria Luise Zetha, Stefano Oppedisano, Alda Pometti
written by Dario Argento, Luigi Collo, Dardano Sacchetti, music by Ennio Morricone, conducted by Bruno Nicolai

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A murder happens, the night watchman of the Terzi Institute for Genetic Biology is killed. Curiously enough, nothing seems to be stolen. The next day, Doctor Calabresi (Carlo Alighiero) falls in front of a train ... an accident of course, or is it?

Only blind puzzle solver Franco (Karl Malden) is sure it was murder, so he and Lori (Cinzia De Carolis), the girl he takes care of, soon enlist the help of Giordani (James Franciscus), a befriended journalist, and soon Franco manages to convince Giordani of his murder theory, and the three start investigating on their own.

Soon though they have come up with nine different lead (hence the title), and have to pretty much follow each one, while dead bodies start to pile up around them.

Some differnet leads are:

-) The institute's research into DNA that identifies persons with an XYY-DNA helix as criminals.

-) The strange relationship between institute owner Terzi (Tina Carraro) and his daughter Anna (Catherine Spaak), who turns out not to be his daughter at all but his lover. (Anna by the way soon has an affair with Giordani.)

-) A love triangle involving the institute's gay doctor Braun (Horst Frank) and his lover Manoel (Werner Pochath).

-) A story about blackmail involving Calabresi and his fiancee Bianca (Rada Rassimov) ... but soon, Bianca dies as well.

... and so on.

The investigations lead our heroic trio to some weird spots like a gay nightclub or a graveyard at night (where they have to do a little graverobbing), and eventually they find their lives endangered - so much so that Franco even has to send Lori, his substitute eyes, away. But then the killer kidnaps Lori ...

In the end, after a search of and chase through the Institute itself, the killer is revealed to be young and promising Doctor Cassini (Aldo Reggiani), who had detected himself to be a carrier of the XYY-DNA, who was blackmailed by Calabresi and Bianca, and who has committed all the murders to save his reputation ... and he almost gets away with it too, only to be stopped by blind Franco, who is so enraged that Cassini planned to do any harm to his little Lori (which he didn't) that he pushes him down an elevator shaft.

 

Not quite the visual masterpiece that many of director Dario Argento's future films would turn out to be and rather devoid of breathtaking set-pieces (another Argento-trademark), Cat o' Nine Tails is nevertheless an exciting giallo (which murder mysteries from Italy from that period are called) that might be somewhat weak on story logic (a fate it shares with most other giallos), plus the mystery is eventually solved by pulling a culprit out of the hat rather than classic deduction, but the film features unusually strong characters, plenty of suspense and some bizarre situations that make more than up for its shortcomings and make the film an enjoyable ride.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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