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  • Dario Argento has come a long way since his first giallo. With classics such as Deep Red, Suspiria and Tenebrae under his belt he is often recognised as Italy's greatest horror director (rightly so). His style that he uses in all his movies is very noticeable here. The excellent score, long tracking shots, bloody murders and the shocking twist at the end. Although Bird with the Crystal Plumage is not as gruesome as his others and the twist not as shocking, he had to start somewhere.

    Sam, an American writer in Rome witnesses the stabbing of woman in an art gallery but is powerless to help as he is trapped between two glass doors. The woman survives though, and the police tell Sam she is the first surviving victim of a serial killer. The police keep Sam in Rome which annoys him quite a bit but he soon starts to investigate after someone tries to kill him.

    Bird with the Crystal Plumage, although not his best work, is still an intriguing and well-made movie. The acting is good, the score excellent and the twist sure surprised me! This is highly recommended for Argento fans.

  • ODDBear19 May 2004
    The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was Dario Argento's first film and it made him a hot property. Having had very little experience with actual filmmaking, he showed incredible potential with his debut and he took full advantage of it in years to come. Here he explored a lot of the scenarios that would later charectarize his films.

    With this film, and particularly his next, Dario showed he had been influenced quite a bit by the great Alfred Hitchcock. The theme here; an american in a foreign country becomes a witness to a heinous crime and starts investigating himself; bears more than a little resemblance to many of Hitchcock's films. An innocent man finds his morbid curiosity getting the better of him and as he progresses in his investigations he puts himself in grave danger. The story unfolds in a similar way to Hitchcock's films, clues are gathered periodically and there's a surprise in the end which is hard to guess, but not impossible.

    Argento gradually builds up the suspense and creates a genuinely intriguing mystery. The film never slows down too much and it never fails to be interesting. It's also got a surprising amount of laughs. But in comparing Argento to Hitchcock, Argento manages to create a style of his own, which he would perfect in Profondo Rosso aka Deep Red a few years later. That's of course the visual style. Here he has the assistance of one Vittorio Storaro and the visual aspect of this film is one of it's greatest assets. The film is wonderfully lit every single time and Argento switches effortlessly between dark and dreary visuals to shiny happy images. Argento's visual style is one of his greatest trademarks and it bears some influence from the likes of Mario Bava. I don't want to name any particular scenes, they all flow well together.

    Another terrific Argento trademark is the music. Ennio Morricone's score is nothing short of fantastic, ranges from cathcy repetetive melodies to haunting sounds of fear. I think the impact from Argento's films would lessen considerably would it not be for those terrific scores he gets every time.

    However, Argento is not perfect. He seems to lessen his standards when it comes to the acting department. Here, the characters are a bit wooden and he doesn't give them all that good lines to deliver. The dialogue in many of his films seem a little childish. And it doesn't look like he gives them many instructions, the acting here (and in most of his films) is shaky and not very consistent. It has been said about Argento that he basically thinks of actors as human props, what's most important is where they are positioned and how they move. Also, it's very annoying how he dubs every film, even the american actors have to do voice overs on themselves.

    That said, Argento has more pro's than con's. His films are always interesting and wonderful to look at. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is in my opinion one of his best. 9 out of 10.
  • Ominous music and lush cinematography override a sparse script to create a Jack-the-Ripper type thriller, which is deeply introspective, moody, and haunting.

    Indeed, the script can be treacherous if used to try and solve this whodunit puzzle, which is best handled by removing psychological assumptions rather than by piecing together logical clues. Even so, the murder mystery plot is to some extent illogical.

    The strength of the film though lies in its suspense, which is almost unbeatable. It rivals any of Hitchcock's works, to which it is repeatedly compared. The scene showing a knife chipping away at a wooden door is reminiscent of, and more frightening than, scenes showing bird beaks chipping away at a farmhouse door in Hitchcock's "The Birds".

    I like the film too because it is so nostalgic. The reel-to-reel tape recorder and dozens of other props and visual cues, the references to philosophy and mysticism, the Morricone film score which at times sounds like the film scores from his spaghetti Westerns, all conspire to transport the viewer back to the Age of Aquarius.

    The acting is fine. Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, and Enrico Salerno are perfect for the roles they play.

    This is one scary movie. Minor flaws notwithstanding, "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage" is top-notch entertainment for fans of suspense thrillers.
  • Dario Argento's first dip into the directorial pool is a pot-boiler somewhere in the realm between Hitchcock and Jack the Ripper, classic noir and the "modern" cat-and-mouse serial killer picture. Argento's method's may still be in a slightly embryonic state (i.e. his intense stylistic flourishes, which by the 80s would seem totally ridiculous in comparison to Crystal Plumage), but already on his first film as director- not on writer, however, as he penned all odds and sorts of spaghetti westerns and thrillers- he assumes control like it's second nature. Suspense sequences involving the coolly suited knife-wielding killer, with Argento trademark black gloves, and a long trench-coat and black hat, come off without a hitch, and not without the kind of excess gore that he and other Italian Giallo directors got branded with throughout the 70s and 80s. Damned if I'll say this, it's probably the one film by the director you can show unashamedly to your grandmother.

    Tony Musante, an actor I've never come across, impresses (as far as a protagonist in an Argento film can such as this) as an American with his girlfriend who are in Italy for some reason or another (a writer it would seem, as we only are told in one or two scenes, which is just as well). He witnesses an attack on a woman inside an art gallery, the only witness in a string of what has already been vicious murders by butcher knife, all women, all unconnected. He just wants to leave, but he has to stick around to give more details. And then, lo and behold, he grows more and more intrigued and involved in the case till, of course, he and his girlfriend become a target by this sadistic killer! All of this is handled by Argento as if they're not the conventions that we all know in this kind of thriller; he approaches all of them with a fresh take, and adds in doses of unexpected humor to keep things interesting (the painter behind the possible clue-painting with the killer in a field and his cats is incredibly funny).

    But it would be just one thing if Argento kept at making near-golden Hitchcockian ideals and the pulpy juices of a genre piece moving along. Argento is out to depict a sense of paranoia, growing and growing upon an aesthetic that is not quite the Master of Suspense, and not quite your common Dirty Harry thriller (though Ennio Morricone's score sounds like a mix of his quintessential touch and some Lalo Schifrin thrown in for good measure). In a sense Vittorio Storaro's cinematography throws one off guard; it's at times not so shot like your common thriller, but as something more ambitious, something that drills away through its premise to dig up any pure cinematic threat to the characters.

    This might sound a little pretentious, but just watch certain sequences, like when Sam is being trailed by the man in the yellow jacket, or when the second female victim is seen, point of view changing without a beat misses on either end. Thanks to Argento's backup of Storaro and Morricone, he has here a twisting tale of a psycho killer with an artistic edge. It's clear to see, even with the ending that yells out as Psycho exposition rip-off, that he was on his way to a solid career.
  • It's of course definitely true that the earliest Giallo's are also most definitely the best ones and the same can be said for Dario Argento's movies. And this movie was not just his first Giallo but also his first movie in general! And what a great debut it was for him! This movie is definitely being one of his bests and one of the better Giallo movies out there in general.

    Finally a good Giallo again! I absolutely love the genre but I have to admit that most of the movies in it are extremely mediocre. Absolutely nothing tops "Profondo rosso", which also got directed by Argento but I can at least say that this movie comes close at times and especially considering that this is one of the earliest movies out of the genre, I really have to take my hat off for this one.

    Some good mystery, some good characters, some great tension and killings. In other words, plenty to enjoy for the Giallo lovers in this movie. I think that this movie did a great job with its storytelling and the way it was handling its almost constantly present tension and mystery. Also good news about all of it is that it doesn't fall flat at the end, as often is the case with these type of movies.

    The movie uses some great and at times also innovative cinematography, which helps to create a certain mood and tension for the movie, which all definitely helps to make this a very effective one within its genre.

    And if you still aren't convinced to watch this movie, let me throw in a couple of more names, besides Dario Argento's; Ennio Morricone and Reggie Nalder. Nalder is a great character actor, I have seen popping up in a wide variety of movies. I have even seen a skin flick with him in it, which is all the more shocking once you know how Reggie Nalder looks. Luckily he himself didn't got nude in it but I always enjoy seeing him in movies and he often plays the quiet, scary looking henchman, as he basically also does in this movie.

    And then there is also still the Ennio Morricone musical score. Most people don't really know it but by far most of Morricone's musical scores are some weird ones, that still have lots of quality to them though. As does the score to this movie, which is one Ennio Morricone himself is even proud off, since he often plays it at some of his concerts.

    Finally a Giallo movie again of which I can truly and honestly say it's a great one, that I absolutely enjoyed watching.

  • Splendid debut film for Italian horror master Dario Argento that nearly single-handedly launched the giallo genre.

    American writer vacationing in Italy prevents a murder at an art gallery, then finds himself a pawn in the killer's deadly game.

    Argento, who would go on to make such classic horror films as Deep Red (1975) and Suspiria (1977), shows his directorial talents well with this first film. Argento makes excellent use of such simple elements, like darkness, close up shots, and rustic locations to give this film a wonderfully garish style! He builds tight suspense through out the film, all the while giving us a nicely twisted murder mystery. The mystery is a gripping one, based upon Frederic Brown's novel The Screaming Mimi. The climax of the film is a truly clever twist. Composer Ennio Morricone adds greatly to the films dark atmosphere with his hauntingly beautiful music score. The film also sports one of the best titles of the giallo genre 'The Bird with the Crystal Plumage'.

    The films cast does some good performances, the best being sexy Tony Musante as the films hero turned civilian investigator.

    A terrific film, that is a must see not just for fans of Argentos work, but for those seeking a great thriller or clever murder mystery.

    **** out of ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I finally saw "THE BIRD WITH THE CRYTAL PLUMAGE" for the first time and I have to say that it's pretty good. The only thing I can fault Dario Argento's first movie is the overall familiarity of this type of movie. In 1969, there weren't that many of these type of sexy thrillers and Bird must have looked (even more) dazzling and original then. But today, stylish sex thrillers are a dime a dozen, thanks mostly to the success of the wretched (and unstylish) Basic Instinct, which obviously was "inspired" by the plethora of sexy, often lurid, disturbing and sleazy giallo films made in Italy in the 1970s. But one can't fault Bird and other giallos for spawning the whole (and now) boring genre.

    I really enjoyed the fact of who the killer is. Dario plays with the audiences' assumptions throughout the movie, in the way it's filmed and with the P.O.V. shots. Because of this clever direction, the ending must have seemed really weird, disturbing back in 1969. Again, these shocking endings have become trite today but I'm certain the ending was a major factor for the worldwide success of the film. It's played intelligently and because of this, the whole integrity of the movie remains intact, even after all these years.

    The film is not without its faults. It drags somewhat in the middle and the "explanation" ending is a tad trite but the film has many memorable moments too, like when Sam goes to the painter and his cats or the antique shop. The later is a funny scene, refreshingly played with genuine playfulness, mainly towards actor Tony Musante's overt hunkiness. Susan Kendall looks amazing, with her blonde hair and big eyes. Kendall and Musante make a great couple. In fact, the whole film is really good looking, even after all these years. This thanks mostly to cinematographer Vittorio Storaro's truly stunning camera work.

    "THE BIRD WITH THE CRYTAL PLUMAGE" is an enjoyable thriller. And I agree with the one who wrote that it's probably Dario's most balanced movie ever. And Ennio Morricone's typically unusual music is excellent. The DVD has the soundtrack as a bonus, which is great. But the image of the VCI DVD is not the best quality. The image is seriously grainy. I wish they'd release a new DVD with a better transfer.
  • petra_ste27 July 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    There is a moment in Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage where Tony Musante's hero is wandering the streets of Rome as evening looms, desperately searching for a missing woman, and the camera pulls aways from him, lost in a maze of buildings, then slowly focuses on a window in the midst of many others, where - we understand at once - the victim's time is running out. It's elegant and nightmarish at the same time, the kind of shot Hitchcock would have thought of.

    Argento's debut is breezy, gripping, and - unlike everything he has done from the Nineties on - has aged extremely well: a tight thriller filmed with style and intelligence.

  • The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) was the film that made Argento a european sensation. His murder/mystery T.B.W.T.C.P. was hailed as a success and made him a star. This tense film is about a american who's caught up in a mysterious murder case. He decides to play Sherlock Holmes and find out who did it. A cool soundtrack, nifty direction and camera work makes this one and interesting watch. Recommended for Giallo fans and admirers of Dario Argento.


    P.S. Watch out for people in brown raincoats who are armed with shiny cutlery!
  • This is one rare jewel of an intelligent thriller that was also the break-through effort for people like Dario Argento, the director and scriptwriter, Vittorio Storaro, the director of photography, and last but not least Ennio Morricone who composed the soundtrack. There are great performances by a cast of lesser known European actors who did not make it big but are great in this one. I would just like to mention two outstanding supporting performances by Eva Renzi who was never better before or after, and by Mario Adorf who convinces as half-crazed cat-eating painter. The movie will keep you glued to your seat and surprise with an absolutely unexpected twist at the end. Watch and enjoy!
  • Very fine debut that set the trend for giallo for the next half dozen years. The seeds of the genre had already been sown but here Argento strikes out stylishly and makes a massive mark. It was interesting watching this again after having seen so many giallo since first seeing this and seeing just how much influence this had been. There are elements, particularly visually, that we will see developed in later Argento films as well as the many imitators. So many red herrings and unanswered questions, of course, but by now we are used to that and others would be freed by this incompleteness to go on and create marvellous colourful multi-layered nonsense for us all to revel in. The Morricone score must also be mentioned for it is of monumental proportions covering the widest range possible from the children's voices through symphonic passages and to the almost abstract.
  • The first film that fully credits Dario Argento as the sole director turned out a compelling murder-mystery, stylishly completed with an excellent score, sublime photography and gripping moments of suspense. In other words, an authentic giallo like only a real Italian master can deliver them! As it is common standard in this type of horror films, the actual climax (usually this means the killer's identity and motives) is slightly inferior to the creation of setting and atmosphere. Yet, in this adaptation of Wallace's novel the plot twists are credible and the finale is satisfying. The story focuses on an American novelist who moved to Italy due to a severe writer's block. One night, he witnesses an attempted knife-murder in an art gallery. Even though he and his girl are becoming the main target of the serial killer at large, our hero finds himself to be more and more obsessed with the tracking down the murderer. Dario Argento is known especially for his violent and explicit horror titles, but this first film of his completely depends good old fashioned suspense and involvement. You almost get the feeling that the killer is on YOUR tale. The comparison between Argento and Alfred Hitchcock surely isn't exaggeratedÂ…at least not when it comes to "Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Really all aspects about it are impressive. Even the dialogue and acting, normally critical letdowns in Italian horror productions, are convincing. The film is given the finishing touch by a few extremely ingenious details like an eccentric, cat-eating painter and a stuttering pimp! Viva la giallo!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As other have noted, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage was Argento's first stab (no pun) at the horror genre, and it's surprising to see how quickly his trademark style and key cinematic concerns fell into place. The film begins with ominous shots of a shadowy figure slipping on black leather gloves, running his fingers seductively over a collection of huge, shimmering knives, inter-cut with some menacing shots of a young woman walking through town, as if being photographed by an unseen foe. This is Argento establishing a sense of foreboding and mysterious dread before plunging into the plot, so to speak, as we're introduced to our central character (a jaded American writer taking a relaxing Italian break with his girlfriend) and the world in which he inhabits.

    Much of the film hinges around a Hitchcockian set piece, in which our hero, walking past a jewellery-store late at night, witnesses an attack on a young woman by an assailant dressed completely in black. Our hero tries to help, but finds himself trapped between the two glass security doors, forced to watch impotently as the attacker escapes and the girl starts to bleed. This is really an exceptionally well-directed scene by the young Argento, as he establishes a set of themes, characters and locations that will be revisited from different perspectives throughout the course of the film, as our hero and his allies in the police-force try to piece together the mystery surrounding the attack, and it's links to a series of related murders over the past few months.

    The mystery element of the film really works and kept my attention throughout, with Argento really understanding the genre and playing with the audiences preconceptions of Hitchcock and Agatha Christie... and so on. The music here, by Ennio Moriconne, adds another layer to the story, often undercutting (as opposed to under-scoring) the dramatic tension of the scene, creating a sense of unease and disarming confusion for the characters, that isn't entirely dissimilar to the themes and ideas used by Goblin for Argento's more famous films. Another interesting element here is the cinematography, with The Bird With The Crystal Plumage benefiting greatly from the skills of now-legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who uses colour, composition and mise-en-scene exceptionally well, with a number of scenes and set pieces prefiguring his exquisite work on films like The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris and Apocalypse Now.

    A number of scenes here standout as absolutely brilliant (the first attack included), with Argento creating a sense of real danger... often by having the lights cutout during key-scenes or utilising slight camera moves to play with the audience's sense of perspective and character point of view. The chase through the early morning streets of Rome - replete with a hit-and-run; a shoot-out in a disused bus-depot; the hunter turns hunted; and a great pay-off as the assailant finally disappears into the crowd - is an exceptional creation handled superbly well by the young filmmaker, whilst another scene, which has a young woman wander blindly into a darkened elevator, only to be sliced to pieces by the same dark-figure clutching a straight-razor (incidentally, this scene was pillaged shot-for-shot by director Brian DePalma for his film, Dressed to Kill) is great moment of tension and terror, and a great burst of gore in an otherwise restrained early endeavour.

    The final act of the film offers up a satisfying double-pay-off, in which Argento allows the film to play into the audience's suspicions, only to then pull the rug-out from under us, with a twist ending that I for one certainly didn't see coming. Here, Argento elaborates on the ideas behind the title and the multitude of bird-symbolism scattered throughout the film (most notably, the first attack scene, in which the victim, Monica, lies bleeding and helpless in front of a statue of a bird's out-stretched claw, or the high-angle "over-the-city" shot, as our hero searches the streets for his girlfriend) whilst simultaneously building on that previously vague scene involving the bizarre, reclusive artist.

    The acting throughout the film is strong, and the dubbing (so prevalent in all Italian films of this era) is less distracting than I was expecting. The narrative is strong and completely compelling, with Argento drawing us into his scintillating cinematic web, and leading us, much like his central character, down a number of blind alleyways and narrative cul-de-sacs. Though it's certainly less violent than some of his subsequent work there's still a real sense of terror and suspense created by the offsetting music and the overall use of camera, composition, and staccato editing. In a way, it seems like a "how to..." guide for the rest of his career, but that's perhaps a little unfair. For me, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is a riveting, revolving enigma of a film that shows a young filmmaker establishing his style and ideology in a way that is absolutely impeccable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This one is as dumb as they get. The ineptitude of this thriller is on par with De Palma's worst, though not as annoying. Absolutely nothing makes sense in this film.

    Musante, a witness to an attempted murder, decides to stay in Italy and become a police inspector's "assistant" so-to-speak, which in itself is quite silly. But that's nothing; that's not why this film sucks big time.

    A couple of details that stand out: 1) When they all got to the zoo, how is it that at that very moment a scream was heard from the killer's husband's flat? A coincidence? Or just one in a series of dumb moments in this piece of crap? 2) When they capture the wrong person, thinking he's the murderer, how does Musante manage to find the killer's flat so easily? 3) Once he gets there why is it that his friend and his girlfriend are there? When the hell did they get there? They were with Musante the whole time, just before, in the zoo! Certainly they don't expect us to believe that the female killer kidnapped the two of them in broad daylight - with police all over the place - and then somehow dragged them to her place?! With a helicopter, no doubt, or perhaps she has wings, or Cpt.Kirk beamed her! Certainly she would have been more concerned with fleeing rather than kidnapping and killing?! 4) Why was Musante's male friend killed, while Musante's girlfriend was only bound and gagged?! It would have made more sense for both to be dead when Musante arrived there. If anything, it should have been the other way around: the friend gagged, and the girlfriend dead; after all, the killer is a killer of women, right? 5) What's with that assassin dressed in yellow who ran over a cop and chased down Musante and his girlfriend? No explanation what-so-ever is ever made as to who he was or might have been!

    There is a really dumb scene in which a voice expert explains that two recordings of voices were actually from two different persons: the inspector takes ages to finally realize what the expert is saying - he practically has to draw it for him! Or maybe the explanation is meant for the audience, which Argento assumes is as dumb as his scripts.

    The explanation given regarding the killer's motives is so far-fetched that immediately I associated the film with "Dressed To Kill" and its incredibly dumb explanation about Caine's motives and inner "workings" of the mind. There is also no real credibility in the killer's husband constantly covering up for his wife's murderous behaviour - even when she tried to kill HIM, and REPEATEDLY. (Sounds like a comedy, doesn't it?) Additionally, it is really stupid that the murderesses' husband was dressed in leather with his face covered, while his wife was trying to kill HIM! This sort of fool-the-viewer plot-device reminds me strongly of De Palma and his bag of tricks and illogics. The murderess always killed dressed in leather, so it's really stupid to have the viewer accept that she was trying to kill her husband while HE was dressed in leather and even wearing a mask. Really stupid. And let's be frank here: does the girl playing the killer look anything like a mad mass-murderer? Hardly. She looks like a 60s fashion model. Probably slept with someone involved with the film to get the role.

    The rating I gave it should actually be even lower, but I figured that the film at least wasn't dull - though far be it for me to imply that it was exceptionally interesting.

    Leonard Maltin, that mediocre film-critic, wrote that this movie is "best viewed on the big screen". As if that would take away all the absurdities that Maltin typically overlooks! As if there is a screen big enough, anywhere in the world, for Maltin to spot the obvious, glaring illogicalities in this or any other dumb film!

    No. MY expert advice is: best not view it at all, whether on a small screen, a big screen, or a triangular screen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After having told a friend of mine that I was going to try and explore a new genre I had heard about called "Giallo",he instantly said to me that I should go and look at the films of Dario Argento.When I heard him say that,my first reaction was actually very mixed,due to all of the praise that I have read over the years for Dario being the "figurehead" of the genre,I had very strong feelings that his films would be very simplistic and not very ambitious,due to him being the only Giallo film maker that gets any mention at all in the main stream entertainment press.

    Thankfully,my friend decided to not give up that easily on me not watching Argentos films,and he passed over to me the uncut version of Darios first film.With being able to see how keen my friend was on me trying out one of his films,I decided to watch it that night.And from the first five minutes of the film,I realised that I had been completely wrong in my underestimations of Dario and this truly gripping ,classic film.

    The plot:

    Whilst walking back home,American writer Sam Dalmas (who is in Rome to spend a little bit of time with his girlfriend,before he has to give his new book over to his publishers) walks by a newly-opened art gallery,just as he is about to keep walking passed the gallery,Sam suddenly notices that a woman is getting attacked by someone who is trying to stab her.Due to the doors having a strange locking system,Sam is not able to reach the girl (although he may have cached a glimpse of the attackers face.)

    With all the noise that Sam has been making,the killer makes a quick run for it,before anyone else arrives.With the main doors at last being open,Sam is at last able to get to the girl,who is still just about alive.As the police arrive at the scene,they understandably first think that Sam is the murderer,but as the police interview Dalmas,they start to have mixed feeling about him being the murderer.

    Although the police decide that to be on the safe side,they will keep Sams Passport so he is unable to run out of the country.Over time,Sam is able to gain the trust of some of the detectives in Rome,who tell him that they suspect that the attempted murder of the woman was done by a vicious serial killer that they have been tracking (and falling to find) for some time.As Sam tries to relax by spending time with his girlfriend,the memories of the attack that he saw keep haunting him.This leads to Dalmas deciding that he can not just fade into the background whilst the bodies mount up as the police seem to get feather away from solving the case,so Sam decides that he should investigate the murder case himself.

    Although, as Dalmas seems to be gathering speed as he discover clues to who the killer may be,the killer starts gathering speed in targeting Sam and his girlfriend as the next victims..

    View on the film:

    When watching this amazing film,one of the things that I was instantly gripped by was the absolutely stunning directing by Dario Argento.For this being his first ever film,Argento already looks like someone who has perfected their craft,from the (pre) David Lynch style opening,which has a strange feel of uneasiness,to the last twenty minute chase for the kill,where Dario silhouettes the scenes in an extremely striking manner.

    Whilst Argento does have a very artistic eye for the look of the film,it is also very easy to see that Dario loves to fill people up with suspense, (a great segment in the film has,Argento giving a nod to "the master of suspense" by featuring an actor in an extended-cameo,who also starred in Hitchcocks film The Man Who Knew Too much)and to completely surprise them, with some very nasty murders,which are also very well devised and excellently stylised,to create some really terrific murder scenes.

    Along with his stunning directing,Argento is also able to write a tension-packed screenplay,that makes the pace of the film move at an almost unstoppable speed,with the scenes that show Dalmas trying to figure out the identity of the killer by using the evidence that he has gathered and the scrambled moments of his memory really pulling the audience in,and making you feeling a strong desire for Sam to find the killer.

    For the absolutely jaw-dropping twist at the end of the film,Argento hints at the ending in some very clever subtle ways in the film,which become much more noticeable on repeat viewings,although it is still unable to diminish the impressiveness of Dario getting the audiences predictions of the killer,to be completely destroyed,by the shocking revelation of the true identity of the serial killer.

    Final view on the film:

    A nail-biting ,gripping Giallo with, an excellent suspense filled screenplay,that is matched by truly astonishing directing,from an amazing young talent.
  • Argento's first directorial effort is compared with Hitchcock, but as tempting as that is, Argento is compared with no one. He has his own style and that style was displayed in his first effort.

    What seems like a straightforward slasher pic, is far from it.

    There are clues throughout, even though they don't look like clues when you see them. One finds it strange that the protagonist (Tony Musante) follows a lead that doesn't make sense, and a clue is revealed that doesn't help us either.

    Why is everything so muddled? Because this will end with a surprise, and then everything will make sense. So, don't try to guess, just enjoy a great Giallo and wait for the Hitchcockian surprise.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I don't consider Dario Argento a favorite director. Sometimes I even question his talent. But his movies have a hypnotic effect on me that always leave me craving for more. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is the fourth movie I watch by him, and it's become my second favorite, next to Deep Red.

    Adapted from a novel that probably no one has ever read, by Frederic Brown, this is Argento's first movie and incursion into the world of horror that he's lived in ever since. It's arguably also his better structured and directed movie. I always have problems with Argento over characterization, the killer's motivation, editing, dialog. But in this movie, perhaps because of its simplicity or because it was his first work, it all works rather nicely.

    The plot doesn't offer anything new: Sam Dalmas is an American writer with writer's block, working in Rome on a non-fiction book assignment just for the paycheck. On the verge of returning to America, he witnesses an attempted murder and becomes involved in the investigation of a serial killer. This is Deep Red and Tenebre. Argento has a formula and seldom abandons it.

    Tony Musante plays Sam Dalmas with competence, but it's not a complex role; characters seldom are in these movies. However Musante brings charm and humor to Sam and it instantly likable. The dialog isn't memorable, but gialli benefit from having powerful visual storytelling, and Argento's camera was never this good - perhaps because legendary DP Vittorio Storato was in charge (in the same year he worked in The Spider's Stratagem and The Conformist for Bertolucci; now that's talent!). For instance, the attempted murder is shot inside a museum separated from the sidewalk by a glass pane. Sam looks inside as if watching a movie on a big screen.

    Argento is always weak on misdirection and suspects. A good mystery needs suspects to keep the viewer off the killer's track and to add spice to the movie. But his movies never have suspects and the revelation - of which he makes a big deal - is always disappointing because it always turns out to be some character who was in the movie once or twice and so we have no emotional involvement in him.

    Argento's gialli are more concerned with the way characters find and interpret evidence. For instance, the way they discover the killer's apartment comes from analyzing and isolating an unusual sound in a recorded conversation between the killer and Sam. Visual clues, aural clues, memory - that's what Argento is all about.

    Finally, I must say Ennio Morricone's score for this movie was beautiful. Although I love Claudio Simonetti's more innovative music in Argento's movies, Morricone brings tension and suspense with the harmonious, mystical themes he composed for this.

    All in all, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is a visual and aural delight, an unpredictable, suspenseful mystery that celebrates the best in its genre.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    1969 saw the emergence of a young up and coming director named Dario Argento. It was his film debut that began a widely popular sub-genre cycle which would last into the early 80's. Although Mario Bava was one of the first Italian directors to do a giallo, it wasn't until Argento showed up that this type of film started to take off. Dario Argento was also the first to put some some life into the Italian horror film as before only a couple of directors(Bava, Freda) were involved heavily within the genre(Lucio Fulci hadn't yet dabbled fully into the horror scene until 1971 with A Woman in a Lizard's Skin). It also establishes Dario as a stylist who would go on to great heights within the horror industry.

    Two films that influenced Dario Argento were La Ragazza che Sappeva Troppo/The Evil Eye(1963), and Sei Donne per l'assassino./Six Women for the Murderer(1964). The main source, however is an obscure novel by Fredric Brown called The Screaming Mimi(1949). The style of the movie seems closer to Mario Bava as Dario has not yet developed a style completely his own. L'uccello Dalle Piume di Cristallo/The Bird with the Crystal Plumage(1969) was a watermark film for the giallo genre in the same way that John Carpenter's Halloween(1978) would become a leading force for the slasher format. It was a step up for the director following a career as a critic and screenwriter.

    It was a world wide success despite the fact that Dario Argento & Tony Musante did not get along during the filming of this movie. The cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is nothing short of breath taking. Its about a man who starts to figure out the murders in Rome after witnessing what he thought was an attack on a innocent woman. Some scenes were trimmed to get a PG rating. The film toys with the idea of gender identification.

    Mario Adorf has a small but vital part as a cat eating eccentric painter. The explanation of the first murder victim may give some hints to the identity of the murderer. Like Profondo Rosso(1975) later on, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage also involves a painting/picture that may hold a clue to the mysteries of the murders. It was in this film that Dario Argento began his trademark of standing in for the murderer. It is the director's most linear and straight forward film.
  • If I were to sit here and rate and write reviews of every old movie based on their importance to cinema, I'd have to give the majority of them a perfect score. I don't write reviews like that, and I find people who do misleading. If you look over most of the positive reviews for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage on any site, you're likely to find they talk about the history and importance of the film, but never the film itself. More specifically, never the typical story itself. If that's what you base your opinions on, there isn't anything I can say to change your mind. However, if anyone is sick of hearing on-sided praise for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, simply because it's old or simply because it's Dario Argento's first film and want and honest review of the movie, read this.

    First and foremost, this is not even close to Dario Argento's worst film. Compared to his most recent, Mother of Tears, this film is unarguably better. The main problem I always have with Argento films is that he unabashedly pumps his movies filled with cheese; The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is nothing like that. It has a typical Giallo plot that is solid and doesn't allow room for cheese. And that's also it's flaw. Being solid, the plot is also unoriginal, even for its time, and just downright average at best. It ends with the average reversal of expectations that if you don't expect at the end of movies like this, you're simply naive. The plot most resembles the four-year-younger, and somewhat superior slasher Black Christmas. That isn't saying much, however, because, as I've said, the plot has been used so many times I'm sure people were even sick of it back in 1970.

    With all that said, not too many people are going to find this uninteresting. It opens with a very memorable first scene and ends with a very memorable ending. Between those two points, the whodunit elements are all fairly fast-paced and even a little immersing. Argento uses a lot of small elements and some interesting plot points to keep the pace up. Sadly, you realize it's all just a formulamatic mess.

    Argento's directing is simply flawless here, even more so than his more popular movies. His repeating use of white is stunning, likewise is the music. Everything reeks of his personal style that I've yet to see another director imitate. He understands how to make a scene the most effective it can be, and that is the single reason I give The Bird with the Crystal Plumage as high of a score as I am. Without the directing, this wouldn't even be worth watching.

    And that is simply all there is to say. The movie is light on plot and heavy on atmosphere. By 1970s standards, this must have been a somewhat entertaining, if not typical, whodunit. By today's standards, however, there is little reason to watch The Bird with the Crystal Plumage unless you're a horror buff or a cinema buff.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (Dario Argento - Italy 1970).

    Dario Argento's debut film that rightfully put him on the map as one of the most gifted horror directors in a long time. After just seeing Sergio Martino's "The Case of the Scorpion's Tail", it won't come as a surprise that I enjoyed watching this film much more. Although not as outrageous in style (perhaps a bit too much style over substance) as his later films "Deep Red" (1975) and "Suspriria" (1977), there is still plenty to enjoy with some impressive set pieces and superb cinematography.

    Like the American jazz pianist in "Deep Red" (1975), the central character is the American abroad in Rome, but this time he is a writer (Tony Musante) trying to relax abroad because of his writer's block. Things start to get ugly when he witnesses a murder while passing an art gallery. The attacker traps Musante and he is forced to watch the woman struggle until the police arrives. The police question him and take his passport, after which he sets to investigate the murder by himself with the aid of girlfriend (the gorgeous Suzy Kendall) piecing together clues along the way.

    The story is involving most of the way with quite a surprising twist ending. And finally a Giallo where the lead, Tony Musante, is not just adequate, but even quite good. But since Argento dubbed all his films (he shot most of them without sound recordings), the performances are hard to judge, so for what it's worth. Suzy Kendall has got nothing to do really, except look beautiful and getting hysterical when it's her turn to be stalked by the masked killer.

    This is one of his more tightly scripted films (after "Deep Red"), which means, it's still a mess, but seldom so confusing it becomes totally distracting. But he made one almost fatal slip-up near the end of the film, which was quite annoying. Its more than just a goof but a major detail. When an accomplice of Musante storms into his room and tells him he has crucial information about the whereabouts of the killer, we get some clues about the mysterious 'title character', "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage". He reveals this is the rare bird "Hornitus Nevalis", 'which only lives in the Caucasus.' The realist that I am (and amateur ornithologist), I actually started thinking. What bird could this be?

    The bird was rare, almost never breeds in captivity and 'hates the smells of other animals.' Hahaha.. the first real laughs started to come. Well, I couldn't think of anything really (the Caspian Snowcock sprang into mind, not a crystal plumage really). They soon rush to the Zoo, where the bird in question is the African Crowned Crane (Balearica Pavonina) with the fictitious scientific name Hornitus Nevalis. Why come up with this silly story about a rare bird from the Caucasus and then show one of the most commonly held birds in Zoo's, anywhere? I've never been to a Zoo without these African Crowned Cranes ( walking around between the other animals), instantly recognizable to most people, I suppose. Certainly enough to know they don't live in the Caucasus.

    With just the tiniest bit of research Argento could have come up with something a little more inventive. With this preposterous plot twist all credibility is thrown down the drain. But after all, this is a Giallo, so I guess there's no point in taking any of this seriously. Perhaps I watched too many of these ludicrous Italian thrillers. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it most of the way, but after a while good arguments can be made to put the sound off, but then the Ennio Morricone score would be lost.

    Camera Obscura --- 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "American" "writer" and Starsky lookalike witnesses an attempted murder in an art gallery which the police connect to a leather catsuit-wearing serial killer. Naturally, he begins his own investigation.

    'Feed it into the computer - that's narrowed it down to 150,000!'

    *Spoiler* The whole story hinges on the fact that the police stop Sam, the incredibly fluent Italian-speaking American, from leaving the country because they think he may remember something vital about the 'murderer'. Never mind that they have a perfect witness in the non-killed victim, because if they questioned her too closely that might give the ending away.

    'Bring on the perverts - no, not the transvestite!'

    So that mystery's the only reason to sit through this stylised, amateurish, silly film, apart from the laugh-out-loud moments which I won't spoil apart from pointing you in the direction of when Sam is trapped in the art gallery lobby. An actor surrounded by four glass walls, trying to get out. What an audition that must have been.

    To be fair, the police chief is convincing (apart from his ghostly moustache), and it's lit and photographed OK, and Suzy Kendall adds a bit of boy interest. If it were a comic book, it would be a mouldy copy of 'Strange Tales' found in a garden shed: worth looking at if you were completely bored, but don't imagine it's a rarity.
  • The reasons for Argento's positive reputation have always been a mystery to me.This Movie is fairly representative of his output ,with TV show production values,insipid colour ,poor acting,and an irritating score.The leading character is American,but there is no plot-related reason why this should be the case.There are other illogical plot developments too,for instance,why do the Police encourage an amateur to take part in their investigations ?.

    Perhaps the worst aspect of this movie however is,that it is totally bereft of any suspense,surely a fatal flaw in a film with pretensions to being a thriller.Comparisons with Hitchcock are completely invidious.give this a miss and view an example of The Masters work instead.
  • I recently bought a bunch of Argento movies on laserdisc because I'd seen a few and really liked them. I was pleased to find that the new titles in my collection are really good as well.

    This film was Argento's first as director, and it's easy to see how he got work after that- it's great. It begins with an intriguing premise- that a witness to an attack saw more than he perceived- and pays off with a nice thriller.

    My only beef is that I rewatched the beginning after it was over and, well, try it for yourself.

    If you liked this and can stomach some much more extreme gore, try TENEBRAE. Maybe you shouldn't watch them back-to-back as I did, but give it a spin some time.
  • This Argento mystery isn't bad but I enjoyed SUSPIRIA and TENEBRE much more (they were more colorful, gorier and crazier!). Much of what Argento became famous for is found here, his first directorial effort: characters who say and do bizarre things inappropriate to their circumstances (the day after Suzy Kendall is attacked in their apartment, she and her lover are there going about their business with the door unlocked!), a convoluted mystery, good-looking women victims. All that is missing is the intense, colorful gore. Finally, let's not leave out the unintentional hilarity of the detective bringing along the writer on the investigations!
  • American writer in Italy passes a museum one evening and sees a woman being assaulted; she lives, but the police focus their attention on the witness, who turns amateur detective to find the attacker, who may be responsible for a recent series of murders involving young women. Dario Argento made his debut as writer-director on this Italian-made murder-mystery (or giallo) that has suspense sequences worthy of Hitchcock but a plot that doesn't bear close scrutiny (particularly near the end). Ennio Morricone composed the lush, eerie score; Franco Fraticelli did the sharp, marvelous editing. Argento based his screenplay on an obscure novel by Fredric Brown, however the psychoanalytical wrap-up at the finish line is straight out of "Psycho". *** from ****
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