Fri 22 Feb 2013
…AND SUDDENLY IT’S MURDER. Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica, Italy, 1960. Originally released as Crimen. Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Nino Manfredi, Dorian Gray, Franca Valeri, Bernard Blier, Silvana Mangano. Director: Mario Camerini.
Intersecting in this mildly entertaining comedy mystery are the lives of three couples: two Italian newlyweds trying to return a lost dog they find in Rome to its owner, a wealthy old woman who lives in Monte Carlo. On the train they meet a man who swears he’s given up gambling in order to save his marriage. He in turn gives some good advice to another couple, a pair of hair stylists (male and female) also heading for Monte Carlo to make their fortune and set up their own salon, based on a roulette system the husband has developed.
The advice? The only way not to lose by gambling is not to play. Do they take his advice? No. Does he take his own advice? No. Do the newlyweds return the dog to its owner? No, they find her murdered instead, and instant funny business ensues, as they want no part of the police, who they know will take them as their primary suspects.
Without boring you with the details of how it happens, each of the three couples comes under suspicion in turn, with Bernard Blier playing the frustrated head of police whose job it is to deal with them. Unfortunately at 108 minutes, the movie’s a little too long to reach its full comedy potential, with the first third, especially after the body is found, the most laugh-out-loud funniest. (And if this suggests to you that the movie starts to sag from there, indeed it does. In my opinion, of course.)
One thing about Italian movies like this one is that all of the women are beautiful and glamorous. One has to wonder how (and why) they hooked up with such nebbish (and not overly handsome) men. It is one of the great mysteries of life.
Note: The movie was remade a couple of times, once in the US as Once Upon a Crime in 1992 with John Candy, James Belushi and Cybil Shepherd as three of the stars. I’ve not seen that movie, unfortunately, but I know it involves a married couple (Richard Lewis and Sean Young) trying to return a lost dachshund to its owner in Monte Carlo. From there, I have no idea how closely the two plot lines coincide with the other.