16 September 2008 | Bunuel1976
NEL SILENZIO DELLA NOTTE (TV) (Mario Caiano, 1977) **1/2
This obscure giallo – which, being a modest made-for-TV effort, runs just 64 minutes (the 93-minute length given by some sources is obviously wrong since the narrative is already extremely involved as it is!) – has been a staple on late-night Italian TV over the last few years. I’d always been curious about it, since TV guides listed the involvement of director Caiano (NIGHTMARE CASTLE , NAZI LOVE CAMP 27 , etc.) and actor Silvano Tranquilli (a genre regular, as well as many a poliziottesco) – actually, the cast features a couple more familiar faces (Alfredo Lastretti and Elio Zamuto) in important roles.
The plot is told in flashback – so that we start off with a number of gunshots (resulting in two corpses) and a female figure fleeing the scene of the crime; later on, it’s established that another murder had occurred some time before which is directly linked to this incident. Eventually, it transpires that infidelity, blackmail, impersonation, jealousy, frame-up and revenge all play a part in the ‘game’ centering around three different families from the same remote town. As ever with this type of film, then, we get shady characters aplenty, a handful of good-looking women and a dash of violence (though, understandably, little action per se) – thus making for a fairly compelling and entertaining ride; interestingly, one of the deaths is actually left hanging as the cop on the case can only offer suppositions as to the identity of the true killer.
As I said, given the narrative’s obvious compactness, it barely pauses for breath as we’re dealt one twist after another; however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was far from a rushed, casually assembled affair – the limitations of video, especially where interiors are concerned (evident even in English-speaking TV-films from the same era), should be mentioned but this in no way impedes the unfolding drama from achieving its intended effect.
For the record, I own a good many effort from the golden age of Italian TV-movies and serials but have only had the chance to sample a very select few; by the way, I also number Caiano’s vintage peplum ERIK THE VIKING (1965; presumably no relation to the disastrous 1989 sub-Monty Python epic comedy of the same name which was partly filmed in Malta) in my maddeningly bottomless “To Watch” pile…