Deadly Sweet / Col cuore in gola (1967)

3.5 out of 5

Breathless meets Blow Up in a live action fumetti from soon-to-be upmarket softcore merchant Tinto Brass.

In swinging London, a trenchcoated Jean-Louis Trintignant finds his business partner dead in the back room of the latter's nightclub, along with a busted-open safe and a barely-out-of-gymslips Ewa Aulin, clearly shaken and not the killer. As the two set off to find the real culprit, they find themselves menaced at every turn by the dead man's erstwhile associates.

This Italian-French co-production sees Brass pulling out every trick in his cinematic grab-bag, with jump cuts, freeze-frames, split screens, double split screens, shifts from colour to black & white and the use of scratched film stock. Pop Art is the order of the day with the camera constantly pulling in on comic panels, Lichtenstein reproductions of same and images of Alfred E. Neumann, Gable and Bogart (whose look Trintignant's trenchcoat clearly echoes). Blow Up is referenced directly with a close-up of a lobby card outside a Piccadilly Circus cinema and, as with Antonioni's classic, cute mod fashion shoot scenes are in abundance. One certainly gets the impression that Brass was enjoying the cultural moment that was 1967.

Flamboyant as the film is, its plot is wafer thin and not entirely logical, making Deadly Sweet a prime example of style over substance. Aulin and Trintignant do so much running around London that it's sometimes easy to forget what exactly they're running around for. However, with the visual feast described above and a swinging psych/jazz/lounge score from Armando Trovaioli it seems slightly churlish to complain about such things.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics