The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Italian: Luccelo dalle piume di cristallo) is a 1970 Italian Giallo film directed by Dario Argento in his directorial debut The film is considered a landmark in the tialian giallo genre it is the first instalment in the Animal Trilogy and was followed by The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) and Four Flies on Grey Velent (1971).
Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) is na American writer living in Rome with his model girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall) Suffering from writer's block Sam is on the verge of returning to American but witnesses the attack of a woman in na art gallery by a mysterious black-gloved assailant dressed in a raincoat.
Attempting to reach her Sam is trapped between two mechanically-operated glass doors and can only watch as the villain makes his escape The woman Monica Ranieri (Eva Renzi) the wife of the gallery's owner Alberto Ranieri (Umberto Raho) survives the attack and the local police confiscates Sam's passport to stop him from leaving the country the assailant is believed to a serial killer who is killing young women across the city and Sam is an importante witness.
Sam is haunted by what he saw that night feeling sure that some vital clue is evading him and he decides to help Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno) in his investigation He interviews the pimp of a murdered prostitute and visits a shop where another of the murdered women worked There he last thing she sold on the day she was murdered was a painting of a stark Iandscape featuring a man in a raincoat murdering a young woman He visits the artista but finds only another dead end As he makes his way back to his apartment Giulia is attacked by the same black-gloved figure but Sam arrives home just in time to save her and the assailant escapes.
Sam starts to receive menacing phone calls from the killer from which the police manage to isolate an odd cricketing noise in the background which is later revealed to be the cal of a rare breed of bird from Siberia called The Bird with Crystal Plumage due to the diaphanous glint of its feathers. This proves importante since The only one of its kind in Rome is kept in the Italian capital's Zoo allowing Sam and the police to identify the killer's abode There they once again find Monica Ranieri this time stuggling her husband Alberto who is wielding a knife After a short struggle Alberto is dropped from six stories onto a concrete sidewalk below As her dies he confesses to the murders and tells them he loves his wife.
Finding that Giulia and Monica have run off Sam goes after them eventually coming to a darkened building There he finds his friend Garullo (Gildo Di Marco) murdered and Giulia bound gagged and wounded The assailant emerges and is revealed as Monica Ranieri Sam suddenly realises that he didn't actually miss anything during the first attack he simply misinterpreted what he saw: the attack he witnessed in the gallery was not Monica being assaulted but rather Monica attackking her huseband who was wearing the raoncoat She flees and he pursues her to her art gallery There he is trapped pinned to the floor by the release of a wall-sized sculpture of wire and metal Unable to free himself he becomes the prey of the person he was pursuing This climax to the mystery with strong sado-masochistic elements has the knife-wielding Monica teasing Sam as she prepares to Kill him As she raises her knife the police burst in and apprehend her notified by Giulia who had escaped Sam is freed and Monica is taken to a psychiatric hospital The victim of a traumatic attack tem attack tem years before seeing the painting of the murdered girl drove her mad causing her to identify not with the victim but with the assailant Alberto likewise suffered from an induced psychosis helping her to cover up the murders and committing some himself Sam and Giulia are re-united and return to American.
- Tony Musante as Sam Dalmas
- Suzy Kendall as Julia
- Enrico Maria Salerno as Inspector Morosini
- Eva Renzi as Monica Ranieri
- Umberto Raho as Alberto Ranieri
- Renato Romano as Professor Carlo Dover
- Giuseppo Castellano as Monti
- Mario Adorf as Berto Consalvi
- Pino Patti as Faiena
- Gildo Di Marco as Garullo
- Rostia Torosh as 4th Victim
- Omar Bonaro as Police Detective 1
- Fulvio Mingozzi as Police Detective 2
- Wetner Peters as Antique Dealer
- Karen Valenti as Tina 5th Victim
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was released in Italy with a 101-minute running time on 19 February 1970. It was released in Berlin Germany with a 94-minute running time at the Gloria-Palast on 24 June 1970.
Critical reception Edit
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage has been very well received by critics On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approvel raring of 91% based on twenty-two reviews with the consensus Combing a deasly thriller plot with the stylized violence that would become his trademark The Bird with the Crystal Plumage marked an impressive horror debut for Dario Angento The New York Times wrote has the energy to support its elaborateness and the decency to display its devives with style Something from each of its better models has stuck and it is pleasant to rediscover old horrors in such handsome new décor Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars writing it's a pretty good [thriller] but that its scares are on a much more basic level than in say a thriller by Hitchcock.