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DILLINGER IS DEAD (Dillinger è morto)(director/writer: Marco Ferreri; screenwriters: from a story by Marco Ferreri/Sergio Bazzini; cinematographer: Mario Vulpiani; editor: Mirella Mercio; music: Teo Usuelli; cast: Michel Piccoli (Glauco), Anita Pallenberg (Glauco’s wife), Annie Girardot (Sabina, Maid); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ever Haggiag/Alfred Levy; Vsom; 1969-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)
It comments on the empty life of the bourgeois and plays out as a bleak study in alienation.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An arthouse black comedy fantasy experimental film directed by Marco Ferreri (“The Flesh”/”Tales of Ordinary Madness”/”The Future Is Woman”), from a story he wrote. It comments on the empty life of the bourgeois and plays out as a bleak study in alienation. Ferreri’s breakthrough film is a counter culture classic, but it’s enigmatic and leaves you guessing what it’s all about. But if you can have fun with the vexing imagery, colorful sets and playful nature of such a bizarre tale–then you’re one of the chosen few who saw and dug this film.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

Glauco (Michel Piccoli) is an industrial designer (he manufactures gas masks) who after testing his masks in the workplace duly listens to a colleague quote Marcuse on modern man’s loss of identity. When returning home from work, he finds his sexy wife (Anita Pallenberg) in bed with a headache. After watching some trivial magazine type of television show and listening to the radio, Glauco takes time out to cook an elaborate gourmet meal. By accident, when his cluttered closet falls over with stored junk, Glauco finds an old 45-calibre gun wrapped in a newspaper article about Dillinger’s death. He takes the gun apart and cleans it with oil and puts it back together and then paints it red, meanwhile fantasizing what he could do with the gun. The restless Glauco then watches a number of home movies before retiring. When he can’t wake his wife, he goes in his shorts to the maid’s room and offers the sleeping Sabina (Annie Girardot) a food treat and joins her in bed for some sex. Glauco returns to his wife’s room and after putting a pillow to her head, he fatally shoots her. Glauco then goes by car to the Grotta Byron (the spot Byron was inspired to test the waves of the sea) and swims in his shorts to a nearby yacht that just buried their cook at sea and gets hired as his replacement for the voyage to Tahiti–following the path of Gauguin.

It’s a subdued film with sparse dialogue, and its lack of movement for long stretches should scare off an audience not prepared for such an offbeat and plotless film. In fact, I assume Dillinger would have probably hated it.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”