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Nine Guests For A Crime

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    Ian Jane
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  • Nine Guests For A Crime



    Released by: Camera Obscura
    Released on: February 17th, 2014.
    Director: Ferdinando Baldi
    Cast: Sofia Dionisio, Massimo Foschi, Dana Ghia, Arthur Kennedy
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Directed by Ferdinando Baldi in 1977, Nine Guests For A Crime wears the influence of Agatha Christie's work plainly on its sleeve but nevertheless puts an interesting spin on the idea behind that classic novel of suspense. The movie begins with a fairly intense flashback wherein a young couple are enjoying some romantic alone time on a scenic beach only to be swarmed by an angry mob that proceeds to kill the young man by burying him alive.

    From here we meet Ubaldo (Arthur Kennedy), a wealthy man who takes his family on vacation to a quiet island home that he owns. We know early on, when things get tense between family members on the boat ride to the island, that things are dysfunctional. Upon their arrival they try to make the best of it but Ubaldo's son Michele (Massimo Foschi) has obviously got the hots for his dad's new girlfriend, Patrizia (Loretta Persichetti), which understandably complicates things, particularly for his naí¯ve young wife. Michele's two brothers, Lorenzo (John Richardson) and Walter (Venantino Venantini), aren't any more trustworthy or moral than he.

    When some unseen killer takes out one of the sailors and scurries off with their yacht, the family find themselves stranded together on the island with no means of getting back or even communicating with the mainland. Soon enough the murders begin and Ubaldo's reclusive sister Elizabeth (Dana Ghia) shows up. This won't end well for anyone…

    The script from Fabio Pittorru isn't the most original story ever told but it is very brisk in its pacing and its execution. The flashback scene sets the stage in interesting ways for what's to come and a few of the murder set pieces that play out are surprisingly nasty. The score from Carlo Savina is also pretty decent, heightening the tension when required and otherwise just complimenting the flow of the story nicely. Cinematography is typically very strong here as well, and the camera work does a great job of not only showing off the tropical locations used for the shoot but also the activities of the requisite black gloved killer as well.

    All of this is performed by a very able cast, with prolific Hollywood film and television star Arthur Kennedy headlining. His character is fairly bitter, just like pretty much everyone else in the film, but he plays it well and convincingly enough (even if he is obviously dubbed here - he speaks English where it looks like most of the other cast members are probably delivering their lines in Italian). Massimo Foschi is also very good here, playing the sleazy and conniving son with a very obvious ulterior motive with no small amount of flair and style. Lovely Loretta Persichetti doesn't have as much to do dramatically but she certainly looks great here while both Richardson and Venantini are enjoyable in their respective supporting roles as well.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Nine Guests For A Crime arrives on DVD in fine form framed at 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen from Camera Obscura, though the opening sequence might initially make you curious as it's been shot with a hazy filter over it for artistic effect. Once we move past that scene, detail and clarity increase considerably. Colors look quite nice throughout and given that so much of this takes place in the daylight, things really pop in this regard. Black levels are strong, the image is clean and clear and there are no issues with edge enhancement or heavy compression to note. This is another fine transfer of a hard to find giallo from Camera Obscura.

    Audio options are provided in Italian and German Dolby Digital Mono options though thankfully subtitles are provided in both German and English (not just for the feature but for the extra features as well). The movie shows its age here but there's better than average depth to the audio for a movie made in 1977. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced.

    Christian Kessler and Marcus Stiglegger kick the extras off with a pretty extensive audio commentary that provides a wealth of information not only about the cast and crew but about the locations as well. They go into a lot of detail about how did what but also cover where it happened and ultimately the end result of some of the choices Baldi made in his directorial efforts. It's a good mix of background detail and critical analysis of this picture and it's quite an interesting listen.

    We also get a twenty-six minute featurette entitled Nine Little Indians which is an interview with actor Massimo Foschi. Here Foschi speaks at length about how he got started as an actor, what it was like working with Baldi and what it was like working on pictures like Nine Guests For A Crime and even Last Cannibal World! He's got some interesting stories to share here and though he's not always laser focused on Nine Guests, he's a pretty interesting guy and this is a nice compliment to the audio commentary track.

    Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, a nice sized still gallery of ephemera and animated menus and chapter selection in both German and English. Inside the slick packaging is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film by Kai Naumann noting the influence of Agatha Christie's work and an interview with production designer Giovanni Licheri (again, in both German and English - always a nice touch!).

    The Final Word:

    Even if it's a bit predictable, Nine Guests For A Crime proves to be a solid thriller made with a good cast by a talented director. The location photography is often quite impressive and there are a few memorable set pieces here complimented by a good score. Camera Obscura's DVD release is just as strong as you'd probably expect from them at this point, offering up the movie in excellent condition and with a nice selection of extras.




























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