• Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: January 15th, 2019.
    Director: Luciano Ercoli
    Cast: Dagmar Lassander, Pier Paolo Capponi, Simon Andreu, Susan Scott
    Year: 1970
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    Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion - The Movie:

    Though their later collaborations in the giallo genre, Death Walks At Midnight and Death Walks On High Heels are better known, the unusually titled The Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion marks the first collaboration between director Luciano Ercoli (the film also marks Ercoli’s directorial debut) and scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi within the genre. While it’s low on nudity and murderous mayhem, it does have some interesting suspense and enough underlying themes of kinky depravity to keep things interesting despite the slow pace at which it plays out.

    The lovely Minou (Dagmar Lassander of Mario Bava’s Hatchet For The Honeymoon) spends her days drinking and popping pills and waiting for her husband, Peter (Pier Paolo Capponi of Dario Argento’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails), to give her the love and affection that she so obviously craves from him. He works a lot, however, and seems to always have to put in long hours at the office and spend more time away from home than most people need to. One night, while walking to the local bar for a drink, Minou is assaulted by a strange man (Simon Andreu of The Blood Spattered Bride) with a knife cane who cuts open her shirt and holds her to the ground but stops short of actually doing anything further to her physically, instead telling her that her husband is a murderer.

    Minou doesn’t believe the man until a day later she finds out that a man that Peter owed money to has been found dead. Later that day Minou gets a phone call from the same stranger who assaulted her earlier, who plays a cassette recording of her husband discussing the murder with an associate of hers. He tells her that if she doesn’t want him to go public with this information, she’d better meet him at his place, which she does, and it’s there that he finally has his way with her in a strange red lit apartment with plaster hand sculptures protruding from the walls and crazy colors everywhere. What Minou doesn’t realize is that the fiend has setup a camera and has managed to photograph her in the act with him, resulting in further blackmail schemes on his end.

    Minou doesn’t know who to turn to, the only friend she seems to have is Dominique (Susan Scott – or if you prefer, Nieves Navarro - of Death Walks On High Heels), but she has her own suspicions about her and thinks that she might be having an affair with her husband. The fact that Dominique owns some pornographic photos of the man who has been threatening her in action tells her that she might have ties of her own to all of this, and Minou soon finds out that no one is to be trusted.

    The Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion does not move at a particularly fast pace nor does it contain much in the way of gore of on screen nudity – two characteristics for which the giallo genre is well known for. Instead it relies on atmosphere and creeping tension and on that level it works quite well. Minou’s plight isn’t evident right from the start but we do know from the opening narration that she is a trouble woman despite the fact that she has what so many other women want – looks and money. As the plot develops and red herrings and strange twists start to come at us from all directions it’s easy to forgive the lack of more exploitative elements and savor the slow burn we’re treated to. Top it all off with a fantastic score from Ennio Morricone, and it’s like the cherry on top of an already delicious sundae!

    Benefiting from a strong cast of Euro-cult regulars (many of whom would work with Gastaldi and Ercoli on later giallos), the acting might not blow you away but it serves its purpose here and everyone certainly looks the part. The visuals are fantastic, with every frame composed carefully and elegantly so that even during the slower moments of the film, of which there are quite a few, there’s a lot for your eyes to feast on. Underneath all of this is a fairly depraved little pot boiler that plays with some interesting psychological twists and turns throughout and while it’s not on par with the better films in the genre, The Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion is very much a worthwhile entry, particularly for seasoned fans of the giallo.

    Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion – The Blu-ray:

    Arrow brings Forbidden Photos to Blu-ray with a ‘brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative’ on a 50GB disc framed at 2.35.1 and presented in 1080p high definition. Colors look nice and natural. Detail is excellent and black levels are great. There’s no print damage to note, while grain remains intact, as it should. Skin tones look nice and natural and there are no noticeable issues with compression or noise reduction. This is a pretty strong upgrade over what we’ve seen before.

    The original Italian and English language mono options are provided in LPCM format with proper English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack and optional English SDH offered for the English track. Both tracks sound pretty decent, with properly balanced levels and clear dialogue.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary from Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine that covers all of the bases and then some. She talks about how the giallo genre would change shortly after this picture was made, makes some observations about the effectiveness of certain aspects of the picture, talks up the film’s quirky ending and offers up plenty of information about the cast, the crew and the score.

    From there we get a few new featurettes, the first of these being Private Pictures, a forty-four-minute ‘newly-edited documentary’ made up of archival interviews with actress Nieves Navarro and director Luciano Ercoli and some newly shot footage with Ernesto Gastaldi. Lots of good information here about how the movie came to be, the financing behind it and more. The Forbidden Soundtrack Of The Big Three is a new appreciation of the music used in this film and other seventies Italian cult films by musician and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon that runs forty-seven-minutes. It offers some insight into what makes the music from these films so compelling and popular decades after they were made by discussing the people who made this music as well as the different instruments that were used to create specific sounds. The third featurette is The Forbidden Lady, which is a forty-four-minute Q&A with actress Dagmar Lassander that took place at the 2016 Festival of Fantastic Films where she talks about how she got into acting, what it was like working in Germany when she got her start, making the transition to the Italian film industry and some of the popular films she’s been lucky enough to have played a part in making.

    Rounding out the extra are original Italian and English theatrical trailers, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    As this review is based off of a test disc we can’t attest to the quality of the book or packaging said to be included with finished retail product.

    Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion – The Final Word:

    This is, overall, a very handsome package for a well made film. Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Above Suspicion may not ramp up the sex and violence the way some giallos do but it’s got a strong plot, a great cast and style to spare. Matched in quality by the presentation and the supplements, Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release is a worthy addition to the collection of any Eurocult enthusiast.

    Click on the images below for full sized Forbidden Photos Of A Lady Under Suspicion Blu-ray screen caps!