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Review The Bird with the Crystal Plumage a.k.a. L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970): Directorial debut of Dario Argento.

genre: giallo, crime, thriller, mystery

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is Dario Argento's directorial debut. Everybody has to start somewhere right? And while this film might not have been the first, it is credited for popularizing giallo, an Italian genre of thriller developed in the 1960s. And as a huge giallo fan, I am very grateful.

You do get to see the trademark characteristics of the genre, where nothing is quite what it seems, although if you pay close attention it has been staring you right in the face. Some events are over the top and quite far-fetched, but then again, films like these thrive on the misdirection. It can be argued that for giallos this element is pivotal above the style. However, don't you worry. Style is in abundance as are the sexy beautiful women who are just as important for the genre as the mystery elements.

When reading some trivia, I find it hilarious that the main character, Tony Musante, was seen as a very intense actor. He would call up Dario late at nights to discuss his characterization. Argento was really annoyed by this fact, which is very amusing to me. You would assume that any director would be happy with the dedication of the actor and him taking the material seriously. Yet, perhaps Argento was of the mindset that his character wasn't really complicated. He basically is the amateur sleuth who has become so invested that he wants to find the killer. Through him, we experience the vital elements of the story. But it has to be said that Musanto is a very good lead and does carry the film. In that regard, Argento did luck out.

This was the second time I viewed this, and I was in the dark for the most part. Fortunately, a lot of time had passed for me to forget about the plot and everything, so I was as invested into the mystery as much as Musante's character was. For an old whodunnit, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage holds up very well. The killings are brutal, but for the most part committed off-screen, yet you do feel the gravity of these murders. Definitely, a must watch for fans of the genre but also newcomers who want to get a taste of the giallo goodness.

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