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FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION, THE (Foto proibite di una signora per bene, Le)(director: Luciano Ercoli; screenwriters: Ernesto Gastaldi/Mahnahén Velasco/from the story by Ernesto Gastaldi & Mahnahén Velasco; cinematographer: Alejandro Ulloa; editor: Luciano Ercoli; music: Ennio Morricone; cast: Dagmar Lassander (Minou), Simón Andreu (The Blackmailer), Susan Scott (Dominique), Pier Paolo Capponi (Peter), Osvaldo Genazzani (Frank Weeks, the Commissioner), Salvador Buguet (George); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Luciano Ercoli/José Frade/Alberto Pugliese; Blue Underground; 1970-in English)
“Doesn’t cut it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Luciano Ercoli (“Death Walks at Midnight”/”Death Walks in High Heels”) directs this kinky giallo thriller Italian-style, that’s not even a full giallo (lacking enough gratuitous violence and sleaze) but leans more in the direction of arty Eurotrash. It’s taken from an overbaked story by Ernesto Gastaldi & Mahnahén Velasco, who also script it. It just doesn’t cut it for many reasons, including a third-rate twisty mystery story, the many red herrings smell from staleness, the acting is terrible and the failure to even come up with the full nudity promised from its title (which is the least of its promises that it could have fulfilled). The damsel in distress story, that any mystery film fan should be able to figure out where it’s going pretty early on, is at least stylish (decadent artsy-fartsy interior decorating abounds) and easy on the eyes. But any attempts to give the cheesy story a psychological framework, doesn’t produce anything but ersatz psychology babble and is not worth the effort in commenting on something so inane.

It opens with attractive redhead Minou (Dagmar Lassander) being attacked while walking at the beach by a sex maniac (Simón Andreu) wielding a sword cane (an all too obvious Freudian phallic symbol) who claims her husband is a murderer; he plays her a tape recording of her hubby Peter (Pier Paolo Capponi) planning the murder of his business financier Jean Dubois, whom he’s in debt to, whose recent death while sea diving was declared a suicide. The cad runs his knife across her bod but doesn’t harm her, only threatens if on his next visit that if she doesn’t willingly submit sexually he’ll turn the tape over to the police. The happily married but neurotic housewife, whose only problems heretofore were drinking too much and taking tranquilizers, shows her love for businessman hubby Peter by getting the tape after letting her blackmailer screw her on her next visit to his arty abode filled with plastic hands sticking out of the wall.

Minou gets support from her hubby, but who can’t be with her all the time because his business is about to sink unless he can get new investors and he frets more about the business than his wife’s sudden change for the worse. Instead Minou gets support from her sexy sexually liberated best friend Dominique (Susan Scott, real-life wife of Luciano Ercoli), who tells her what she’s doing to save her hubby’s ass is cool and shows how much she love’s him.

The mix of violence and sex picks up a few notches as the blackmailer now holds photos of her having sex with him, which he threatens to tell her hubby about if she doesn’t become his sex slave. Naturally things take a deadly turn, and after going to the police no one believes her story and she thinks she’s going crazy. By the climactic scene we learn the truth, and find out who the real scoundrel is.

The unpleasant dark film lets some needed light in with a seductive Ennio Morricone score and the eye-catching photography by Alejandro Ulloa.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”