42nd Street Cinema

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970)

Luciano Ercoli's sexually tense and ridiculously titled giallo thriller. The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion/Le foto proibite di una signora per bene features an intricately woven plot by the talented Ernesto Gastaldi.
Starring: Dagmar Lassander, Pier Paolo Capponi, Nieves Navarro (as Susan Scott), Simón Andreu, Osvaldo Genazzani and Salvador Huguet.

Forbidden Photos is essentially Luciano Ercoli's introduction to the giallo genre. He would later go on to direct another 2 gialli, which would also be told from a female perspective. Those being Death Walks on High Heels/La morte cammina con i tacchi alti (1971) and Death Walks at Midnight/La morte accarezza a mezzanotte (1972). Nieves Navarro would also return to to work with Ercoli and become the protagonist for these two films.

In all 3 of Ercoli's gialli there is an interesting trait, in which, the female protagonists are portrayed as being utterly oblivious to their surroundings in addition to being ultimately helpless, when confronted by a male character, who are generally established as chauvinistic and malevolent, these trappings are exacerbated. The device works exceptionally given this film's particular story which solely involves manipulation and power play.

That said, the plot involves; love, betrayal, sex and dominance. Slap bang in the middle of this is Minou (Lassander), a hapless housewife who hangs on her husband Peter's (Capponi) every last word. Introduced through Dominique (Navarro), Minou's best friend and a former lover of Peter, who has an insatiable sexual appetite.
Shortly after leaving her apartment Minou is stalked by a mysterious man on a motorcycle, who confronts her with information regarding her husband's possible involvement with a murder. This eventually leads to Minou being blackmailed into sleeping with the man and the thought of doubt towards her husband firmly planted in her mind. The plot really starts coming together, when Minou and Dominique are looking through pornographic photos imported from Denmark and Minou recognizes the man as the blackmailer. What game is she involved in and who are the players?

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion is a really underrated giallo, that breaks the conventional moulds affirmed by the likes of Bava and Argento and substitutes graphically depicted violence for a more psychologically grueling plot, all the while remaining totally stylish thanks to incredibly lighting and smooth cinematography that is further enhanced by Ennio Morricone's dreamy and almost enchanting score.
Dagmar is simply gorgeous as the sultry Minou, Navarro is great as the devious best friend and Capponi effectively conveys the dismissive and conniving nature of his character. The film has such a great late 60s chic fashion colour pallet, the set and costumes really bleed nostalgia onto the screen.

In closing, genre fans should seek this little beauty out. Hell, even if you don't like gialli, just watch it.


stonerphonic said...

i'm watching this purely off the statement "the female protagonists are portrayed as being utterly oblivious to their surroundings".

nothing like a bit of realism in your gialli...


Tower Farm said...

I have always loved this title... perfectly 70s Italian. Glad to hear the movie is actually good.


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