Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET. Marianne Productions / Seda Spettacoli, Italy, 1971; original title: Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio. Paramount Pictures, US, 1972. Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Bud Spencer, Screenwriter-director:: Dario Argento.

   Dario Argento’s giallo film, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, is one strange cinematic experience, one best appreciated after midnight. Alternately creepy and surprisingly funny, the movie stars two American actors, Michael Brandon and cult favorite Mimsy Farmer, as a married Italian couple inexplicably plunged into a nightmarish world of murder and paranoia.

   The movie has both dark humor and a psychedelic, dreamlike quality buttressed by an early 1970s rock soundtrack. It’s as if Hitchcock, Pink Floyd, and an experimental theater company decided to make a thriller.

   The movie wastes little time getting right into the heart of the action. Roberto Tobias (Brandon) is a rock musician who finds himself being followed by a strange man. In an unsettling sequence, Tobias ends confronting the man, killing the lurker with a switchblade knife. Soon after, Tobias and his wife, Nina (Farmer), begin to receive threatening notes in the “I know you killed a man, Roberto,” variety.

   But if it’s not money the anonymous stalker wants, then what is it? And why? And what the hell do four flies to do to with it? I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but let me just say this: those little flies are the big elephants in the room. In the end, it doesn’t make all that much sense. But the journey’s the fun part.

   Look for both John-Pierre Marielle in a captivating and comedic portrayal as a down-on-his-luck, flamboyantly gay private investigator and for Bud Spencer as one of Roberto’s friends.