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Kriminal

Italy / Spain 1966
produced by
Giancarlo Marchetti, Claudio Teramo for Filmes Cinematografica, Estela Films, Copercines
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Glenn Saxson, Helga Liné, Abndrea Bosic, Ivano Staccioli, Esmeralda Ruspoli, Dante Posani, Franco Fantasia, Susan Baker (= Maria Luisa Rispoli), Armando Calvo, Mary Arden, Rossella Bergamonti, Mirella Pamphili
story by Umberto Lenzi, screenplay by Umberto Lenzi, David Moreno, based on the comicbook by Max Bunker (= Luciano Secchi, writer) & Magnus (= Roberto Raviola, artist), music by Raymond Full (= Romano Mussolini)

Kriminal

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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For having stolen the British Crown Jewels, masterthief Kriminal (Glenn Saxson), the villain with the skeleton costume, is to be executed - but Scotland Yard inspector Milton (Andrea Bosic) actually facilitates a plot of him to escape. Why?

Because with Kriminal dead, the Crown Jewels would be lost. A few days later, the Crown Jewels are sent to inspector Milton by Kriminal, but not so much out of gratitude but because he can't possibly sell them.

Kriminal has already laid his eyes on some other loot though, the Tradex diamonds, which are shipped to Istanbul soon using a pair of identical twins, Inge and Trude (both played by Helga Liné), with one acting as bait while the other actually carrying the goods. Somehow, Kriminal finds out though that Inge is the real McCoy, so he drugs her at the airport, steals her case where the diamonds are hidden - and finds it empty.

Kriminal though is not only a baddie in a skeleton suit but also a handsome, playboy-like guy, so he seduces Lady Gold (Esmeralda Ruspoli), posing as a gigolo, the owner of the diamonds who was to oversee the shipment, and learns that she was tricked out of the stones by her boyfriend Alex (Ivano Staccioli) and the twins. Having learned that, Kriminal kills Lady Gold rather ruthlessly, and Trude as well after getting more information out of her.

Istanbul: Kriminal gets friendly with Inge posing as a jeweller's playboy son, and he persuades her to steal the key to the safe deposit box containing the diamonds from Alex to exchange them for the fakes Kriminal provides. This way, nobody would find out the stones are gone until much later, and by that time, Kriminal and Inge could be long gone. But of course, Alex has long suspected something, so he makes an (unsuccessful) attempt on Kriminal's life and takes extra care hiding his key. Also, he calls inspetor Milton onto the scene, and Kriminal has more than a few problems staying out of jail. Then though he tricks Alex into using acid instead of shaviong lotion while shaving, upon which Alex is hospitalized, and his face hidden behind bandages. Then he lures Alex to a certain beachhouse where he shoots him and burns away his entire face with acid. Then Kriminal dresses up as Alex, complete with bandages, and makes sure everyone thinks the dead man is he himself. And he calls Inge to the beachhouse to take the rap - long enough at least for him to go to the bank and empty the safe deposit box. Then he ditches the Alex costume, knowing everyone will now look for Alex, believing Kriminal is dead. For a while that works, but eventually, inspector Milton finds out the truth ... and suddenly Kriminal finds himself a man on the run, and what's worse, he loses the diamonds while getting away.

After crossing the desert on foot, Kriminal stumbles upon a blonde (Mary Arden) in a convertible and hitches a ride - only to find out she was actually planted there by inspector Milton, who has the last laugh in the end.

 

Historically, this film is significant for being the first of the fumetti neri (~ immoral Italian comicbooks) to be adapted for the screen - and the film has quite some things going for it, too: It's very decently paced, light-footed in diretorial approach, and it's elegantly shot (though not half as elegantly as Mario Bava's fumetti neri-adaptation Danger: Diabolik). However, at the same time, it's also a less than perfect film, as its story is over-constructed to the point of being ridiculous, while all the characters lack any depth or dimension - which means one cannot really care for anyone, good or bad, which makes the action kind of empty reduces it to the machinations of the screenplay.

That all said, Kriminal is still a likeable testament to 1960's Italian pulp cinema - far from perfect, to be sure, but likeable.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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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
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out now on DVD