Deadly Sweet Review
The FilmFor those of us who delight in the sub genres of Italian cinema from the sixties and seventies, one of the strange joys of watching the films is noticing the attempts to piggyback on another movie. Just think about all of those westerns that have Django added to the title, the references to animals in the titles of gialli, and the glut of movies seemingly set in Blighty or having a British connection. Tinto Brass' early thriller fits very nicely into the last category as it comes the year after Antonioni's Blow-Up, and features London Buses, Picadilly Circus, photographic models and lots of swinging sixties culture.
I would note that any success here is not the screenplay's doing. The film meanders, jumps in and out of narrative, and is a completely redundant whodunnit. It seems though that the director knows this and opts to take the mickey out of the story and mine the fun of the set pieces. At one stage towards the film's conclusion, the identity of the killer is effectively given away by Brass concentrating on a railway advertisement of a book title and then cutting back to a particular character. For the director what seems to matter here is the visual gag rather than any pretensions to building up tension.
This director has rightly received much criticism for his erotica where he repeats formulaic female empowerment stories alongside some pretty unreconstructed leering. However, from the evidence here, it is interesting to note that the young director was keen on taking risks and parodying the form. Examples of these qualities include JLT's introduction in the film with him saying virtually nothing for the first 10 minutes, constant referencing of film noir and classic detective movies, Batman "Kapow" type intertitles during the fights, and the pathetic sight of our supposed hero getting beaten up by a little person.
Brass's attempt at a thriller is therefore quite light in tone and if you consider this his nod to Antonioni, like Snackbar Budapest seems like a parody of Fellini, then you may enjoy it and its flaws very much.
Transfer and SoundI have been unable to confirm if this transfer is a standards conversion but it is heavily interlaced. This is a real pity as the underlying print seems basically sound with very minor damage and some dirt present. Whilst this is sharpish, contrast is very unreliable and colours are washed out with skin tones often looking as if they are smeared onto the screen. Contours have been artificially enhanced and characters are often haloed, there are compression artefacts and instances of combing, and some moments which made me suspect that the framing may have been cropped at the top of the image. Once I had adjusted my equipment to de-interlace the transfer it did look much better, but perhaps most buyers won't be so fortunate.
Discs and Special FeaturesTinto Brass provides a commentary for this release in English. He mentions some recent positive reviews, and moves on to how he cast the film with lots of praise for Trintignant's professionalism and character. Brass talks about problems with lighting necessitating the black and white sequences, and he claims they shot the entire film very loosely. Brass is honest about not liking the genre and being happier when dealing with the erotic, the comic, and the "grotesque". He talks well and easily throughout with little hesitation except for a longish pause in the last few scenes.
The trailer sells the film as a swinging thriller and includes a hefty spoiler. The lobby card gallery contains five black and white images from the French publicity for the film.
This is an all-region dual layer disc with simple poster art menus accompanied by the film's theme song.
SummaryBefore he got lost in soft core porn, Brass was an interesting and literate film-maker. Deadly Sweet is no classic but it is a jolly frolic of a giallo and worth a spin for fans of the genre. The Cult Epics transfer is not great, but this carries English subtitles whilst the Italian Medusa disc doesn't.
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