Blu-ray Review: The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion

Time to open up the freezer for the year’s first Giallo and Gelato night. And we get a double treat in the form of Talenti’s Vanilla Cinnamon Gelato and The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. The two blend perfectly well. The gelato looks on the outside as a plain scoop of vanilla, but once you put that spoonful in your mouth, there’s a sweet heat. And that’s exactly how director Luciano Ercoli treats his directorial debut. Ercoli had just scored as a producer on the Spaghetti Westerns A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo starring Giuliano Gemma (released as a double feature by Arrow Video). But he wanted to direct and luckily got into Giallo films as Dario Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage made it the hot genre as the Spaghetti Western was cooling off.

Minou (Hatchet For the Honeymoon‘s Dagmar Lassander) stuck without her husband for the night once more. He’s always wrapped up in his business. She swears she’s going to stop taking tranquilizers, but pops a few before taking a nap. She heads out for a bite at the seaside location only to find herself being attacked by a biker (Death Walks on High Heels‘ Simon Andreu) who pins her down and cuts at her dress with a knife. When she thinks the worse is going to happen, the stranger tells her that her husband is a killer and names the victim. She’s not sure what to make of it since her husband (The Cat o’ Nine Tails‘ Pier Paolo Capponi) didn’t seem that kinda guy. He’s not even sure what really happened to her since the police can’t find anything. She spends more time with Dominique (Death Walks at Midnight‘s Susan Scott) . It turns out Dominique is rather wild including taking dirty pictures and ordering even dirtier postcards from Scandinavia. As Minou shuffles through the photographs, she spots her attacker in a scene. Things get weirder when he shows up and has an odd blackmail scheme for her.

Ercoli and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (Torso) create a fine paranoid film that constantly has Minou doubting the reality of her situation. Is it all one big drug induced fantasy? Or are others gaslighting to make her the patsy in a bigger scam? Is her husband going to kill another or did he even kill the first? Ennio Morricone’s score keeps the uncertainty and tension up high. There’s plenty of suspicion in his notes. The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion features the wonderfully seductive in the Italian landscape. The character don’t give much away as a viewer gets confused figuring out if the story is slowly peeling away or getting wrapped up. What is real to a wife with a husband that might be full of secrets. Ercoli would go on to make the equally entertaining Death Walks at Midnight and Death Walks on High Heels (also out from Arrow Video). He proved himself to be a producer who was ready to sit down in the director’s chair.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks great for a film that was shot using the 2-perf Techniscope. You get a good sense of the Euro style on the screen. The audio is LPCM 1.0 mono on both the English and Italian tracks. The mix is fine so you can enjoy Morricone’s score. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine has her discuss how Forbidden Photos type of giallo film would be changed after the success of Argento’s Bird. The market would want more body counts and less females at the center.

Private Pictures (44:15) is a newly-edited documentary featuring archival interviews with actress Nieves Navarro and director Luciano Ercoli with a new interview material with writer Ernesto Gastaldi. Ercoli talks of making the step from producer to director. Gastaldi speaks of how he was originally saving the script for his wife, but the offer to get it made was too much.

The Forbidden Soundtrack of the Big Three (47:05) shed a light on Morricone and his collaborators by musician and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon.

The Forbidden Lady (44:03) is a Q&A with actress Dagmar Lassander at the 2016 Festival of Fantastic Films. She talks of her youth that featured her bouncing around several countries and what brought her to Italy to work in movies.

Original Italian and English theatrical trailers (6:26) set up the suspicions.

Image Gallery (1:30) are shots from the production.

Arrow Video presents The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. Directed by Luciano Ercoli. Screenplay by: Ernesto Gastaldi. Starring: Dagmar Lassander, Pier Paolo Capponi, Susan Scott and Simón Andreu. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 96 minutes. Released: January 15, 2019.

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