Blu-ray Review: Double Face



Double Face is a tricky choice for Giallo and Gelato night since there’s a hard debate if the film is an Italian Giallo film or a West German Krimi. The films was a joint Italian-West German production. The poster declares the film was based off a Edgar Wallace book which is normally a Krimi. But it’s not based on a novel. The original script was written by Italian Lucio Fulci (Never Torture a Duckling) although the final screenplay went to director Ricardo Freda and Paul Hengge, an Austrian. It stars Klaus Kinski (For A Few Dollars More) who was a major star in the Krimi genre. The action is supposed to take place in England. The big thing is that the film came out in 1969 before Dario Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage so there’s major demand for giallo movies in theater bookings. But ultimately which category Double Face belongs to doesn’t matter. You can eat it both ways. Unfortunately Talenti no longer produces the perfect flavor for the movie since German Chocolate Gelato has been discontinued. You’ll have to settle for Belgian Chocolate Gelato.

A Rolls Royce speeds down a country road with a police car in pursuit. The chase doesn’t go on for too long as it gets wiped out by a train and bursts into flames. John Alexander (Kinski) sets up that all had been planned out to the minutest detail as we flashback to the start of the mystery of who is burning in the Rolls. During a vacation in a snowy land, he meets Helen (Venus in Furs‘ Margaret Lee) and quickly marries the heiress. They return to England where he discovers his bride has a special relationship with her secretary Liz (The Case of the Bloody Iris‘ Annabella Incontrera). John offers a divorce, but she doesn’t mind living her double life. When she goes off on a trip to Liverpool, her car gets into a nasty wreck. There’s rumors of John sabotaging her car so he could inherit her wealth. But nothing is proved. After a mourning period, John meets a woman (Little Mother‘s Christine Kruger) that takes him to a wild party. While watching a stag film, he notices the veiled woman has identifying marks that makes him swear it’s Helen on screen. Had she faked her own death to become an adult film star? John becomes obsessed with getting his hands on the film and unveiling the actress.

Double Face is one of those rare times when Klaus Kinski gets to play the “nice” guy on screen. Of course when his wife dies, he’s a suspect. Because no matter what, he’s still Kinski. Is he trying to make himself look not guilty on the film? For those who recently watched Riccardo Freda’s Iguana With A Tongue of Fire from Arrow Video, Double Face‘s ending is more direct. When we find out who is inside the burning Rolls, there’s no having to rewind the tape to once more get an explanation. Kinski also helps keep things less confusing since he’s a man on a mission looking for what he thinks is his wife with her new sizzling career. Double Face is out there on a moral stand point by letting the Helen character be so liberated in her approach to life. She wasn’t going to choose between her husband and her secretary. And the movie doesn’t need to choose between Giallo and Krimi.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the groovy colors when John goes to the hippie party. The audio is LPCM mono in both English and Italian. You get to choose between English and Italian version of the film for the audio and credits. The sound brings out the groovy sounds too. The movie is subtitled in English.

Audio Commentary by Tim Lucas which is good since the historian has written about Italian and West German cinema over the years. He gives an essay that’s not scene specific since he wasn’t sure what the restored version would be when he was recording.

The Many Faces of Nora Orlandi (43:28) is an appreciation of the composer by Lovely Jon. Her talks about how Nora’s mother was an opera singer. He gives a really deep background of her career history that includes photos and clips of her performing. This is best to watch before the interview with Nora to truly be astonished at her accomplishments.

7 Notes for a Murder (32:18) is an interview with composer Nora Orlandi. She has a great story when talking about Tarantino using her work in Kill Bill. She wanted to compose when she was 12 and a half. She goes through her education and her career in film music.

The Terrifying Dr. Freda (19:53) is a video essay about director Riccardo Freda’s movies. Author and critic Amy Simmons points out Freda’s giallo entries that included Double Face, Iguana with a Tongue of Fire and Tragic Ceremony. The last title has yet to be released by Arrow.

Image Gallery includes the German Pressbook (1:00), German Promtional Materials (4:30) and Italian Cineromanzo (10:20). Promotional materials include the poster and lobbycards. The Cineromanzo is the movie broken down like a comic book with stills from the film showing off the plot. This is what we had to do before the birth of home video.

Original Trailers includes the English (3:32) and Italian (3:32) language versions. It tells us that the truth can have two faces.

Arrow Video presents Double Face. Directed by Riccardo Freda. Screenplay by: Riccardo Freda & Paul Hengge. Starring: Klaus Kinski, Christiane Krüger, Günther Stoll &
Annabella Incontrera. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 91 minutes. Released: June 25, 2019.

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