Retro-review: New this week from MVD Visual and Arrow Films!
THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A MINOR (1975)
aka TOO YOUNG TO DIE
Directed by Sergio Martino
Written by Ernesto Gastaldi & Sergio Martino
Starring Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Lia Tanzi, Gianfranco Barra, Patrizia Castaldi, Adolfo Caruso, Jenny Tamburi, Massimo Girotti, Carlo Alighiero, Franco Alpestre, Fiammetta Baralla, Barbara Magnolfi, Aldo Massasso, Roberto Posse, Carlotta Wittig
From Sergio Martino, the Italian director of SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD, 2019: AFTER THE FALL OF NEW YORK, and TORSO, comes a tale of murder, prostitution, buffoonery, and a conman detective in the middle of it all.
Claudio Cassinelli plays Paolo Germi, a suave, spectacled detective who keeps breaking his glasses while investigating the murder of a prostitute he meets at a street festival. While enlisting the aid of a street thief and maintaining a sketchy relationship with the local police who seem to be in the bag with some corrupt politicians, Germi gets closer to the killer and a conspiracy.
This film is a mixed bag of epic proportions. It starts out like a true Giallo film with a shady man murdering a woman with very little explanation of the motif to the crime. But instead of following a witness as most Giallos tend to do, we trail eccentric and fallible detective Germi as he sort of bumbles his way through the case trying to track down the girl who spurns him and then ends up dead. So it becomes more like an episode of COLUMBO for a bit. But then it gets goofy as hell in a slapstick chase sequence involving some bumbling cops and a car with removable doors. Then we get to a truly awesome shootout between two separate roller coaster cars which I found to be the true highlight of this film as both cars dip and swerve on different parts of the ride with bullets flying in every direction. This is one thrilling little scene director Martino orchestrates. It’s about this time that the film remembers how it opens and becomes deathly serious again, as Germi gets closer to cracking the case and the Giallo aspects return again.
The versatile Claudio Cassinelli juggles the genres well as Detective Germi, alternating between cool as ice and comic. Cassinelli has a Thomas Jane like quality about him that makes him likable even when he’s doing shady shit. Added heft comes from Mel Ferrer as the police superintendent. The entire film centers around a child prostitution ring, which also makes the wonky middle portion of the film feel inappropriate, but all parts are technically well done with the roller coaster scene being the best of the bunch. THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A MINOR proves that director Martino is one able to capture the essence of many genres and blend them together to make a potent little movie with as many twists and turns as a good rollercoaster itself.
Special features in this Arrow Films Special Edition BluRay/DVD include a new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, mew interviews with director Sergio Martino and cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando, and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon.