Devil is a Woman, The / Il sorriso del grande tentatore (1974)

3.5 out of 5

It is tempting to compare the versatile and incredible Glenda Jackson's Sister Geraldine, by far the star of The Tempter, with Anita Ekberg's Sister Gertrude and it would be no surprise if it happened to be the case that Killer Nun was an exploitation on some of the key themes of The Devil Is a Woman. However, possibly a fairer comparison would be to the character Nurse Ratched of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Indeed it is to this film that The Tempter should be compared as there are innumerable points of intersection.

Director and writer Damiano Damiani, he of Bullet for the General fame and a man also responsible for some of the most overtly political Italian crime thrillers, here takes a critical view of the institution and rituals of the clergy.

As with In The Highest of Skies there is something of a hint of the surreal in the execution of the feature and also a number of similar themes are explored, especially power struggles, repressed taboo sexuality and the clash between the dialectical materialism and rationalism of the Marxist and the idealism and obscurantism of the church hierarchy. In this the film pulls no punches.

Claudio Cassinelli and Lisa Harrow work well in leading roles but, on the downside, the relegation of Ely Galleani to a walk on role is nothing short of a scandal.

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