Devil in the Brain (1972)

Oscar Minno (Keir Dullea, who in addition to 2001 has a career filled with odd films like Welcome to Blood CityFull CircleBunny Lake Is MissingDe Sade and Black Christmas to name a few) has come back from overseas and seeks out an old love, Sandra (Stefania Sandrelli, Divorce Italian Style) who is now a widow confined to her family estate, her husband potentially killed by her son Fabrizio (Maurice Ronet, Bloodline) and now in the care of the domineering Countess de Blanc (Micheline Presle). Meanwhile, Doctor Emilio Bontempi (Tino Buazzelli, who played Nero Wolfe on TV) believes that Ricky, now confined to the care of nuns, may be innocent of the murder.

Directed by Sergio Sollima (Violent City), who co-wrote the script with Suso Cecchi d’Amico (Bicycle Thieves, Brother Wolf Sister Moon) with a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, this has a higher pedigree than most giallo. It has no black gloved killer, little nudity and hardly any blood. Instead, this deals with class conflict, as Oscar was never considered a viable husband for Sandra and yet he still wants to save her — and maybe her son — from the stigma of mental illness. But when the working class proletariat interferes in the world of the bourgeois, nothing but pain can arrive.

I have no idea why more people aren’t watching and discussing this one. It’s probably not sleazy enough and has no interest in ripping off Argento. Instead, it emerges from a slow start to become a wonderful detective tale.

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