• Deadly Sweet (Cult Epics) DVD Review

    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: April 28th, 2009.
    Director: Tinto Brass
    Cast: Ewa Aulin, Jean-Louis Trintigant, Robert Bisacco, Charles Kohler, Luigi Bellini
    Year: 1967
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    Deadly Sweet – Movie Review:

    Before he became Italian cinema’s ‘master of ass,’ Tinto Brass dabbled in a few different genres. Among others, he made a mediocre spaghetti western titled Yankee in 1966 and a year later, in 1967, he wrote and directed Deadly Sweet, a pseudo-giallo based on the novel by Sergio Donati and featuring some interesting design work by Italian erotic comic book artist Guido Crepax.

    After the film’s great opening pop number, we meet a man named Bernard (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who meets a beautiful young woman named Jane (Ewa Aulin) while out at a night club one night in swingin’ late sixties London when Bernard stumbles upon the dead body of the man Jane may or may not have murdered. You see, Jane’s father was recently killed in a fatal car accident not too long ago. While the authorities insist there was no foul play, Jane thinks that there was more to his death than just bad luck – she thinks he was killed because of some pictures he had of his second wife and was the victim of a nasty blackmail scheme – and this dead man in front of her was the man who she believes was the blackmailer.

    With Jane looking rather guilty beside the corpse, logic would dictate he’d assumed she murdered him but instead he decides to go along with her and assume she’s innocent. The two try decide to try and figure out who really killed the man. As they set out investigating, they soon realize that they’re being followed by an unusually short man in a raincoat and a few other criminals obviously connected to the dead man. They figure Bernard was the one who killed him. The pair head off to Jane’s brother’s place hoping that he’ll be able to help them put all of this together, all the while trying to avoid the criminals and cops who are in pursuit.

    While there is a murder mystery plot running throughout the film and an obligatory J&B bottle appearance, Deadly Sweet, as fun and entertaining as it is, doesn’t really feel like a traditional giallo. There isn’t much in the way of on screen violence and the body count is minimal. Don’t expect stalk and slash scenes or black gloved killers roaming the halls, instead, this is almost more of a chase movie through the seedy side of town. A few fun twists keep the story moving nicely and the picture zips along at a good pace but there isn’t really a whole lot of suspense to the proceedings.

    That said, the picture is an entertaining one. It’s beautifully shot and quite sensational in its use of split-screen effects and in how it switches from color to black and white to interesting effect. The film also uses some fantastic psychedelic pop art pieces, which were created by Crepax specifically for the movie, and as such it has a really nice comic book aesthetic to it. The opening credits, in which the names and titles move across the screen from right to left, start things off with an interesting slant and while this picture doesn’t have nearly as much nudity or raw sexuality as Brass’ later works, his camera obviously loves adores Aulin, framing her perfectly and really doing a great job of ensuring she looks gorgeous in each and every frame. With her doll like features and big, beautiful eyes it’s easy to see why Trintignant’s character falls for her. Performance wise, Aulin is a great damsel in distress to Trintignant’s brave tough guy lead. They make a great pair and they’re a lot of fun to watch in this picture. The pair would appear the next year in Giulio Questi’s surreal giallo, Death Laid An Egg.

    Ultimately, even if the plot isn’t going to wow you, the visuals are so strong and they mix so well with Armando Trovajoli’s fantastic score that it’ll suck you in anyway. Trintignant is the epitome of suave while Aulin oozes sex appeal. Everything builds up nicely to a fairly twisted conclusion, and the end result is a really fun movie that, even if it isn’t deep, works out to be a whole lot of fun.

    Deadly Sweet – DVD Review:

    Deadly Sweet debuts on DVD in an anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen transfer that is, unfortunately, interlaced – a common problem with Cult Epics DVDs. It also looks like this could be a wonky PAL to NTSC conversion, as there are some minor but noticeable trails present during scenes with fast movement. The elements used for the transfer are in nice shape and the color reproduction looks fine, but the authoring issues are noticeable and hurt what would have otherwise been a very nice picture. That said, while the transfer is far from perfect and leaves plenty of room for improvement, it’s watchable. It’s just unfortunate that the interlacing and conversion issues hamper this one, as it really is a nice looking film and the elements used were obviously top notch.

    The sole audio track on this disc is an Italian language Dolby Digital Mono mix that comes with optional English subtitles. As far as older mono mixes go, there’s nothing to complain about here. The dialogue is clean and clear and the subtitles are easy enough to read. There aren’t any noticeable hiss or distortion issues to complain about and the levels we properly balanced.

    The main extra on this release is an audio commentary with Brass, who speaks in English about his work on this picture. It would have been ideal to have him speak in Italian with English subtitles as although his English is pretty good, his accent is fairly thick and the warbly quality (much of which comes from Brass’s scratchy sounding voice) of the recording makes this tough to listen to. That said, Brass talks about his thoughts on the pop art and comic books of the era in which he made this movie, and he talks about working with some of the cast members he used in the film. He refers to it as an experimental film and you can see why, as he definitely plays with a few different visual styles and techniques in this movie. He talks about this film’s connection to Candy with Marlon Brando, and about some of the more memorable scenes in the film, why he placed the film in London, Guido Crepax’s design work, and he also talks about how it was difficult to bring the sound of comics to life in the film and how he tried to do that. There are a couple of moments here and there where Brass goes quiet but for the most part, even though he speaks fairly slowly, he’s got quite a bit to say about this early feature from his filmography.

    Rounding out the extras is the film’s original theatrical trailer (3:24, anamorphic widescreen), and a collection of six black and white Italian lobby cards.

    Deadly Sweet – The Final Word:

    It’s a shame that the transfer isn’t so hot on this release, as the commentary is certainly a nice extra for Brass fans and the movie itself is a whole lot of fun in its own odd overly stylized pop art sort of way and the soundtrack is great. As of this writing, this is the only English friendly release of the film.