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Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio

Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Vier Fliegen auf Grauem Samt / The Four Velvet Flies / Four Patches on Grey Velvet

Italy/France 1971
produced by
Salvatore Argento for Seda Spettacoli, Marianne Productions, Universal Productions France
directed by Dario Argento
starring Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, Bud Spencer, Francine Racette, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Marisa Fabbri, Calisto Calisto, Aldo Bufi Landi, Oreste Lionello, Fabrizio Moroni, Corrado Olmi, Stefano Satta Flores, Laura Troschel (as Constanza Spada), Dante Cleri, Guerrino Crivello, Gildo Di Marco, Tom Felleghy, Leopoldo Migliori, Fulvio Mignozzi, Stefano Oppedisano, Pino Patti, Ada Pometti, Jacques Stany
story by Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi (= Lewis Coates), Mario Forglietti, screenplay by Dario Argento, music by Ennio Morricone, conducted by Bruno Nicolai, special effects by Cataldo Galliano

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Someone is following musician Roberto (Michael Brandon), but when Roberto finally turns the tables on the man, a certain Carlo Marosi (Calisto Calisti), and comes face to face with him in an opera house, the two get into a fight at the end of which Marosi is accidently killed by his own knife. Now that alone is bad enough, and it's not made any better by the fact that Roberto tries to hush up the whole thing to keep out of trouble, but what's really worrying is that someone has not only seen but also photographed the whole thing, and on the photos it looks as if Roberto did actually kill Marosi. Thing is, whoever it is does not take the photos to the police and does not blackmail Roberto as such, he just terrorizzes him by leaving the photos and other things (like Marosi's ID) around his house - which means whoever-it-is has to be a close friend of Roberto.

Eventually Roberto confides into his wife Nina (Mimsy Farmer) - which was not such a great idea since their whole conversation was overheard by their maid Amelia (Marisa Fabbri), who thinks it is a good idea to blackmail whoever-it-is (seems she knows who whoever-it-is is), but ultimately she is killed by her supposed blackmail victim.

After the death of Amelia, Nina decides to leave the house, while Roberto decides to stay behind to sit the whole thing through, and soon enough he turns to his friend Godfrey (Bud Spencer) for help, who gets him in touch with gay private eye Arosio (Jean-Pierre Marielle), who finds out a thing or two about whoever-it-is before long - and is ultimately killed.

Carlo Marosi by the way was not killed at all by Roberto, or anybody else by the way, but he's still alive and kicking, and obviuosly he is in league with whoever-it-is - until whoever-it-is doesn't need him anymore and kills him, for good this time.

Left behind by Nina, Roberto soon enough starts an affair with Dalia (Francine Racette), Nina's cousin no less - but soon enough, Dalia too ends up dead, slaughtered by whoever-it.is. This time though the police is determined to find a definite clue, so they try out a new theory according to which the last image a person sees when dieing is forever burned into that person's iris - but when they finally get the image off the iris, they see nothing but four flies on grey velvet, which doesn't make much of a clue now, does it ?

Roberto tries to set up a trap for whoever-it-is, awaiting him with a loaded gun, but instead he receives a visit from his wife Nina, who somehow gets him to hand her over his gun, then turns out to be whoever-it-is after all, with the four flies on black velvet referring to her necklace. Turns out Nina has grown crazy because her father wanted her, forced her to be a boy, and regularly beat her up, and she spent some years in a loonie bin in the process, and later after her dad was long dead, Nina found Roberto, a splitting image of her dad,a nd decided to have her (highly complicated) revenge on him in her father's stead, a revenge that will now come to an end when she threatens him with his own gun - but fortunately for Roberto, Godfrey has been on the case, and he has traced Nina to the house and can overcome her just in time. Nina makes a hasty escape, but ultimately she crashes her car into a truck and is beheaded.

 


Admittedly, Dario Argento's films were never strong on plausability and credibility (which actually goes for the giallo genre as a whole), and in that respect, Four Flies on Grey Velvet might be his worst scripted movie yet, but as usually, Argento makes up the shortcomings of his plot with an extremely stylish directorial job, with inventive, even experimental setpieces, with amazing camerawork, and with beautifully composed images. All that might not make you forget the very feeble storyline, but it makes this film interesting and entertaining nevertheless.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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