Monday, 4 January 2016

Blu-ray Review: What Have You Done To Solange? (Arrow Video)

There's a lot to enthuse over with regard to this 1972 giallo gem. So much so, that it's hard to know where to begin.
Let's start with the character of Herta Rosseni, played by Karin Baal.
For the first half of the film, Herta - a teacher at London's St Mary's College For Girls - comes over as a dowdy, ice-cold wife who suspects husband Enrico (Fabio Testi) is having an affair. After her suspicions are confirmed, Herta is transformed into a radiant spouse who not only stands by her man, but joins him in the search for a sadistic killer who preys on targets from St Mary's. Enrico, also a teacher at the school, was having an affair with a girl named Elizabeth (Christine Galbo) and their clandestine meeting on a boat is uncovered by Inspector Barth of Scotland Yard, played by Joachim Fuchsberger.
Barth is on the trail of a killer who is responsible for the death of a young girl, and the crime - committed on the banks of the River Thames - was witnessed by Elizabeth whose memory is somewhat hazy.
As the girl attempts to recall missing details, Enrico fights to save his marriage and his reputation while the murders continue.

The theme of incomplete memory, where the whole picture is tantalisingly out of reach, has figured in many gialli - witness the big hitters from Dario Argento - and a black-gloved killer who constructs a string of gruesome murders is front and centre here as we join up the dots en route to his/her identity.
The bloody aftermath of the slayings will doubtless remain in your memory long after the haunting, thought-provoking final frame, frozen for all time, and there's also a very disturbing scene involving the titular character (played by Camille Keaton) who eventually arrives on the screen with a tragic back story.
The film as a whole is beautifully constructed, playing with our emotions and altering perception of the main players. It's very much a film about relationships; about how people can change and how they react to extreme situations.
It's stood the test of time so very well, set to a striking score from Ennio Morricone and blessed with fluid photography by Aristide Massaccesi. Director Massimo Dallamano's 'schoolgirls in peril' giallo can now be savoured by a new generation of admirers, thanks to Arrow Video's Blu-ray presentation.

The film can be viewed with Italian or English on-screen titles and audio. Subtitles and audio can be independently configured via the setup menu.
Image quality is excellent,courtesy of a brand new 2K resoration of the film from the priginal negative.
The commentary track on the impressive list of extras may well be your first port of call.
This is another informative and entertaining outing for the winning team of Alan Jones and Kim Newman who hold forth on the cast, locations, production history and themes contained in the film.
We hear about Dallamano's skewed visions of London; the composition of the widescreen photography; Robertson's Jam; symbolic art direction; Edgar Wallace titles; the rather odd ending and the idea of a giallo walking tour of London!
Always a real pleasure to listen to this pair.

"What Have You Done To Decency?"
A 13m 38s interview with Karin Baal, which took place in Berlin in October 2015.
Karin discusses her love scene with Testi; Camille Keaton's bad experience during filming and her own opinions and verdict on the film as a whole. You may be surprised by some of the things Karin has to say.

"First Action Hero" (21m 17s)
Filmed in Rome in 2006, this is a fascinating interview with Fabio Testi, who discusses his 8 years as a stuntman and his subsequent elevation into the world of straight acting. He talks about Enzo Castellari, Lucio Fulci and Dallamano, who he remembers as a highly skilled director who ran a well organised shoot.
Testi also talks about his varied roles, explaining he liked to mix things up to avoid being pigeon-holed.

"Old School Producer" (11m 2s)
Also filmed in Rome in 2006, this is an interview with Fulvio Lucisano who talks about Massaccesi's photography and Dallamno's career.

"Innocence Lost" (29m)
Another informative video essay from Michael Mackenzie, who uses video clips from Solange and its two semi-sequels, together with footage from "Don't Torture A Duckling" and "Who Saw Her Die?".
He discusses child gialli and observes the themes presented in the aforementioned films.
Sterling work from a true expert in the field.

The disc is rounded off with a 3m 5s trailer, and the extras conclude with a booklet which contains an article on the giallo scores of Morricone by Howard Hughes; a Cammile Keaton career retrospective by Art Ettinger and original archive stills and posters.
Arrow's disc is regions A/B and comes highly recommended.

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