Muriel Spark sold her novel The Driver’s Seat as a whydunnit instead of a detective story. The movie that was made from it, Identikit, by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi somehow goes from a rambling narrative of a woman who has lost or is losing her mind — you knew it, f.giallo — that eventually transforms at the end into an image straight out of the form.
Griffi also made Metti, una sera a cena (Love Circle), which stars Tony Musante and giallo queen Florinda Balkan, as well as Addio, fratello crudele (‘Tis A Pity She’s a Whore), The Divine Nymph which has Tina Aumont from Torso and La Gabbia which had contributions by Fulci and is called an erotic thriller but come on we know what that means.
This was written by Griffi along with Raffaele La Capria.
What’s incredible about this movie is that it finds Liz Taylor — 45-year-old Liz, mind you — playing Lise, a lonely woman from Germany that has come to Rome to find a dangerous liaison, a fatal attraction, dare I say a strange vice to call her own.
Everyone she meets either wants to fuck her or is afraid of her, like the British businessman (Ian Bannen) who tries to pick her up on the plane and offers that he must orgasm every day on his macrobiotic diet; an Italian man (Guido Mannari) who seems perfect if distant and a would-be French lover (Maxence Mailfort).
There’s also the presence of the days of lead looming over everything, as a moment after she lands in Rome, Lise is nearly killed in the crossfire as the police open fire on a protestor and a bomb has cleared all the shoppers away from a mall except for Lise and a doddering elderly woman (Mona Washbourne) in a role that Taylor wanted Bette Davis to play, but Bette said no thanks to a film without a completed script.
Yet the true explosion is within Lise, a woman who won’t have it any way but hers, screaming at a salesgirl — while her one-time biggest star in the world breasts are exposed to the unflinching camera — that she refuses to purchase an outfit that has been treated with stain-resistant chemicals. How dare they believe she’s the type of woman to make such a mess?
This is all told in a way that is both episodic and all over the place, as detectives attempt to understand why Lise was killed along with all of the people that she’s traumatized along the way. It all looks gorgeous, though, as cinematographer Vittorio Storaro is best known for shooting The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor and Dick Tracy.
At the end, is it a giallo? Well, that fog coming from the trees as — spoiler warning — Lise directs her would-be lover and killer in how to properly bind her hands and stab her isn’t far off from the way most women have to direct their lovers so that they don’t end up penetrating the crease in their leg and never make their way inside them. Liz was just fresh off her first divorce from Richard Burton and it feels like she’s exploding all of her hatred and frustration in this role and man, I only wish that I knew more of this Liz and not the sad last days of tabloid headlines and Larry Fortensky.
One last giallo connection: Franco Mannino also did the music for Murder Obsession.
My favorite thing about this movie? Andy Warhol walks in and takes over a one-minute scene as a British lord.
I love the f.giallo because it’s not always about murder. Sometimes, as in Footprints On the Moon, a movie that this shares the new Severin House of Psychotic Women box sex with, it’s all the female heroine can do to stay sane.
You can watch this on Tubi.
Liz Taylor (from Bar Chef Lu Brow at Café Adelaide in New Orleans)
- 1.25 oz. Absolut Citron vodka
- .5 oz. triple sec
- .5 oz. blue curacao
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
- Shake all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
- Strain into a martini glass and drink.