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Short Night of Glass Dolls

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Posted 23rd April 2009 at 09:09 AM by Philleh

Can you imagine being mistaken as a corpse? I donít mean in a Saturday morning hangover/comedown stylee. I mean being found fully dressed in some shrubs, eyes wide open with your heart beat so faint that any beat would not register on the best heart monitoring apparatus the 70ís had to offer? You can hear fully what people are saying around your lifeless body, but youíre unable to communicate, youíre trapped alone in your thoughts and unable to prevent a thing.

Doesnít sound very pleasant, does it? Especially the trapped in your thoughts bit, that would really piss me off, as I donít get along too well with myself! But on top of all that, what if you had to recall how the hell you got in this state, not to mention find the person responsible for not only your new-found solitary confinement but also the disappearance of your sweetheart?

This is exactly what poor old Gregory Moore (Jean Sorel Ė Perversion Story) has to overcome in Aldo Ladoís excellent debut Short Night of Glass Dolls. Itís a tall order for any self-respecting journalist Iím sure. Staring off with a couple of bizarre Prague-ites(?) discovering the supposedly dead body of Greg, his body is whisked off too the local morgue for an autopsy. Lado scores bonus points for setting his picture in, at the time, a city that wasnít filmed as often as it is these days Ė Prague. Heís always seemed ahead of the pack in this regard.

While laying in the cooler, he starts getting some of his short term memory back and is able to piece together what chain of events led him here, starting with the disappearance of his squeeze, Mira (the gorgeous Barbara Bach). His quest to get to the bottom of this puzzle, with the aide of a couple of close friends Jacques (Mario Adorf Ė The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and Jessica (Ingrid Thulin Ė Salon Kitty). Their search is not helped by the local fuzz who are determined to bust the journalist for anything and everything they can in a bid to stop him from getting to the bottom of his ladyís disappearance.

Tracing key events back to a swank party he and Mira attended, he and his posse set out on interviewing everyone at the party. What they find is that Mira isnít the only beautiful young lady to have gone missing recently, and that each girl had a love of music, but their parents are not willing to talk about the loss of their children. One lone old man is willing however, but being the credible Gialli this is, he arranges to meet later, somewhere not so close to home: Only to be offíd just as Gregory turns up! (Donít you hate it when that shit happens?). The old geezer does manage to get out some last, cryptic clues for Gregory to follow however, and he sets out on his way to infiltrate a freemasons-like club where old folk gather to appreciate beautiful women playing some rather bland chamber music!

Just as it all becomes clear to him, the doctors decide theyíll be using Gregoryís cadaver to demonstrate to a class of medical students, the Ďartí of autopsy. It soon becomes a race against time like no other Gialli: before, or after it.

Aldo Ladoís debut has just become one of my favourite Gialli. Itís a slow burner with plenty of originality and ingenuity to make up for its lack of gore and bloodshed. It also scores points for having the stunning Barbara Bach get her kit off! I will warn you however, once you get an eye full of Bachís goodies, be sure to keep that image close by, as the next bout of T&A is of the geriatric persuasion and is, well, pretty damn gross! Unless of course thatís your bag, I wonít judge you.

Acting wise everyone is on top form. Highlights; Jean Sorel (sporting a rather glorious moustache) is as likeable as ever and handles the leading man duties with ease. Ingrid Thulin is a welcome presence, to my recollection she didnít feature in any other Gialli and with such a unique, and menacing face, she makes for a brilliant red herring as the jealous woman who isnít satisfied with just being a Ďfriendí to Gregory.
Anchor Bay has, once again, provided consumers with an immaculate presentation that brings out the glorious visuals in a loving scope format that is truly a pleasure to view. I canít imagine the joy fans of the film mustíve felt after putting up with old pan & scan copies for so long! Ennio Morricone is also on soundtrack duty here (as with most of Ladoís filography), but doesnít attempt to be the star of the show this time, using atmospherics rather than themes (although there is a beautiful theme song to be had) to aide the movie, itís not his best work by far, but the story is so strong it doesnít require anything more than what heís provided.

On the special features front, we are given an interview with Lado and his feelings on his filmmaking debut along with his influences: mainly Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris) with whom he enjoyed a working relationship with as assistant director. Apart from that we get a trailer for the feature presentation and an Aldo Lado biography-come-filmography.

The slow pacing may distract some, but if youíre in a patient mood you will be rewarded by one of the finest endings the Giallo genre has been blessed with. What are you waiting for?

Directed by:
Aldo Lado

Jean Sorel
Barbara Bach
Ingrid Thulin
Mario Adorf

Recommendations: Perversion Story & Who Saw Her Die?
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