Weekend Murders, The (1970)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2009-11-30 19:27

Directed by: Michele Lupo
Written by: Sergio Donati
Starring: Anna Moffo, Ida Galli and Gastone Moschin

Reviewed by: Josh G.

At least they knew the butler didnít do it...he was the first body they found.

What do you get when you cross Italian actors, camera shots and giallo elements with the likes of a comedic British Agatha Christie inheritance plot? I can tell you now, the answer does not include the term giallo anymore, no matter how much you may want to believe it. Billed in a double feature by MGM back in the day with The Black Belly of the Tarantula, a film very true to the formula of the giallo, The Weekend Murders is very different in tone, and far from a horror flick. Dry humor mixed with a mystery set story rather than a suspense, it might not be for those who would rather the line between the subgenres not be blurred. But is it still worth it for those who have the time to seek a slower whodunit?

Set in Britain, a family is reunited to hear the will read out loud of their deceased relative. However, as soon as 30-something daughter Barbara (Anna Moffo) is granted the bulk of the estate, an attack takes place leaving the stabbed body of the butler. Suspicion falls upon the members of the family greatly when another event takes place; a failed gun shot that appears to have been aimed directly at Barbara. With bumbling cop Sergeant Thorpe (Gastone Moschin) on the case, the predicament feels years away from ever being solved. Is someone in the house bitter, feeling cheated out of a fortune, and now taking their revenge?

Opening with a delightfully powerful and well directed golf scene, where a body is soon to be discovered in a peculiar place, the vibes are settled, showing the viewer that this will be a dramatic but brighter thriller. As if you would actually think going into a part comedy would fill your hunger for gore. Little blood is shed and the kills are few, so get your mind out of that slasher phase you have going on! If you are seeking a kill thrill, look away. This one is for those that have a tale on the brain, and want to challenge themselves to a game of ĎGuess That Killer!í And man, is this a good one for that. I figured out who a possible hunter could be, correctly, but when it threw me at a point, it was all over for my questioning.

Where the Italian close up shots and dark eyeliner appear, the British music and big teeth budge in. Some arguments can be made for it being part giallo, but it never embraces that side of it. So let it go. Now, the performances are something to talk about of which really carry the feature, most notable being Georgie (Chris Chittell), Barbara, and Thorpe. The comedy is not in your face either, a more subtle approach. It takes the whole killer aspect very seriously, but it has fun with the characters. Using Thorpe as a dopey flower loving officer who actually has more smarts than the others when it comes to solving the problems. Then thereís Georgie, whose mother Gladys (Marisa Fabbri) hovers over like a hawk, resulting in some chuckle worthy reactions displayed by the two. They are the colorful duo that make the movie stronger than it has the right to be.

The black gloved killer does make an appearance here, though funny enough as you will see, the dark beginning progresses into a spoof cameo. One will not expect the turn for it to play out, because when you see this masked maniac time and time again in other shows, you know what will happen. Either a killing or a showdown will occur, but certainly not an unmasking this early on, or the giddiness of the intended victim afterward. Itís a wrapped up and cute film. Nothing highlighted here for the ones who have their neck out for a classic scene. The opener is about as close to lovely as you would be hoping for, but this does not disregard the rest of Concerto per pistola solista. Oh no, not at all.

Isabelle (Ida Galli), sister of Barbara, keeps her scenes direct by lining the soap opera track up with her sorrow for not receiving anything in her fatherís will, and cheating on her husband with a man who she just met on the road. Weekend Murders does seem a bit dated, with the judgmental looks of the family members when Ted (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) shows off his new wife Pauline (Beryl Cunningham), because she is black. If that doesnít get you, the fashions obviously will. Granted, not the most exciting film of its kind, nor high in originality, it does keep you thinking until the end. And it keeps up a classy act when the curtain falls.

I canít speak of it too much longer. It is not one of those eventful movies you would talk for hours on end at the cooler. For collectionís sake, itís still one that will keep your eye up even when you finished it already. Code Redís hi-definition DVD of The Weekend Murders with a still gallery, trailer, interview and an audio commentary with star Peter Baldwin (who plays Anthony Carter in the film) is a top release for those few who were lucky enough to become fans of this a time before. Rescued from obscurity, it can rest easy in the hands of a new generation, with only a few blemishes. The picture is clean, among Code Redís best, and the sound is a melody to the ears. For those who can stand the lack of bodies, stretch out your weekend with this underappreciated treasure, meaning: Buy it!

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