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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

The Cat o' Nine Tails

(Il gatto a nove code)
1971 | FranceItalyWest Germany | 112 min | More...
A still from The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971)
  • Watched on C+: 3 stars (out of 5)
    on Fri Feb 5, 2021 via iTunes

    I’d long considered Dario Argento’s sophomore effort a disappointment, but upon revisiting I discovered a competent—albeit unremarkable—mystery film.

    The story follows a blind puzzle enthusiast, played by Karl Malden, who teams up with a reporter, played by James Franciscus, to investigate a convoluted series of murders involving a medical institute.

    It may lack The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’s visual flair and intensity, but it ages better. Argento appears to have learned that showing a character afraid isn’t enough to engage an audience. He comes close with a scene where Malden traps Franciscus in a tomb, but the scene proves short. Instead, Argento focuses on solid mechanics. The result is the tortoise to Bird’s hare.

    First-time viewers may find this disappointing after Bird. But give it time. As I’m learning, a film can age in unexpected ways.