Una ragazza piuttosto complicata (1969)

A Rather Complicated Girl was directed by Damiano Damiani, the director who came to the U.S. to make the most Italian movie — sheer exploitation and a streak of pure meanness — ever made in America, Amityville II: The Possession.

Alberto (Jean Sorel) has heard two sapphic lovers speak on the telephone and his head is filled with fantasies. He decides that he has to meet one of them in person, so he tracks down Claudia (Catherine Spaak, The Cat o’ Nine Tails) and they soon find themselves making love non-stop in between acting as fake talent scouts so they can get involved with the innocent Viola (Gabriella Boccardo, A Quiet Place In the Country) and discussing the strange relationship between Claudia and the woman on the other line, her stepmother Greta (Florinda Bolkan, always the finest actor in any giallo).

I love that this movie tests what a giallo is a year before Argento would send everyone down the animal-named and switchblade holding path. Alberto is a rich man without a care, even making fun of the wife (María Cuadra) of his dying brother, asking her when she’ll find her next lover. As for Claudia, she already has one abusive and possessive boyfriend — Pietro (Gigi Proietti) — and the film goes near hyperbolic in showing she has no morals with an interlude where she tries to seduce a priest.

The two plays games with one another and if you’ve seen enough giallo, you understand that Alberto can’t outthink Claudia or her mental games, especially when she shows him the gun in her purse and wonders if he’d do anything for her. Perhaps they’ve found an equal match in one another, for a time, as the idea that they could make love in a room where someone hung themselves excites them both, as if they are above human concerns.

Interestingly, the interviewing of the young girl and Alberto’s constant questions about Claudia’s life and relationships makes this a proto-Sex, Lies and Videotape, as when he’s not probing mentally, he can’t probe physically. What’s the fun in being a rich and gorgeous playboy if you’re impotent? Maybe he really does need that gun.

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