It has the stylish looks and has a title reminiscent of a giallo, but it’s more of “a sexy drama with a shamelessly low body count”, according to a friend watching Luciano Ercoli’s 1970 film The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion/(aka LE FOTO PROIBITE DI UNA SIGNORA PER BENE) with me. Amusingly enough, this is someone who dislikes these types of films, but stuck around because of hearing it wasn’t a total gore festival. Shame he didn’t stick around for Torso, but we’ll get to that terrifying classic a few reviews later.
Dagmar Lassender is Minou, a pretty housewife with a pill addiction she can’t quite kick. She runs into trouble after a blackmailer (Simón Andreu) assaults her and alerts her that her husband Peter (Pier Paolo Capponi) has murdered a man and Nicola can help keep things quiet if she meets the blackmailer for, let’s just say some sexytime antics. She does, but things get weird and she calls in a free-spirited friend for some assistance. Uh, wait. That sounds a bit too much like a film with an X rating, huh? What actually happens is her loyal and sexually free as a bird friend Dominique (Nieves Navarro) has some rather shameless photos in her collection and Nicola notices the cad behind the blackmailing is the same in one of the photos… The plot thickens, right?
Well, not so much, folks. This certainly is a super-stylish looking film and yes, indeed, its ladies are stupendously as lovely as can be (the men, eh, not so much). However the suspense is limited to guessing how far the blackmailer will go when a few things are revealed and whether or not Dominque is part of the plans (because it sure seems something is up with her). With a few tweaks. “this could be a Lifetime drama of the week” (I don’t watch that network, I’m loosely quoting that friend from earlier, so I guess he or his wife are fans).
Working with a limited budget, Ercoli’s flick is pretty colorful save for some scenes where it needs to go dark for mood. There are some effective scare (fake ones, but they work), a fantastic Ennio Morricone score, and suspense galore as the film’s ending creeps up. But things don’t get jumpy with the scares until the parts when the plot uncovers two surprises you might not have seen coming. Or maybe you did if I guess you watch a lot of Lifetime TV movies. Actually, it’s amusing to see older films like this where DNA evidence wasn’t a thing and finding out who’s been in and out of a home wouldn’t be an issue. Poor Minou needs to go through hell from the authorities at a few points partly thanks to disbelief she’s being stalked.
As usual, Arrow Video has a superb transfer for this film, and has done up some nice features and interviews to add to the fun:
It’s far from a “bad” film, mind you. I’d highly recommend it to those new to the genre who get squeamish at the mere thought of blood (there’s some near the end, but it’s pretty tame stuff) as well as those who have yet to see it. I’d probably also recommend this to Lifetime fans as well, but they way have already seen this in some other form as a modern remake of sorts (heh).
Score: B (80%)
-Review screener courtesy of Arrow Video