The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970)

A textbook Ernesto Gastaldi-penned, pre-Argento giallo being that it is far more interested in mystery, intrigue and eroticism than poking your eyeballs out with visceral murder set-pieces. It’s still somewhat kinky though, with lead beauty Dagmar Lassander getting embroiled with a blackmailer who demands her body as payment resulting in some conflicted lusting on her part. Morricone’s evocative score goes a long way to heighten this into a class of its own and the scope photography, enriched by inky blacks, primary colours and hazy lighting, is luxurious too.

Director Luciano Ercoli would go on to make a pair of solid post-Argento gialli in the shape of Death Walks In High Heels (good) and Death Walks at Midnight (great), both also written by Gastaldi and starring Nieves Navarro aka Susan Scott who features here, stealing practically every scene with her assertive femme dominance. Her relationship with Lassander is a real highlight given that the male leads, while typically roguish, are mostly a bore. As they are often lumped together into an unofficial trilogy, the three Ercoli/Navarro gialli certainly paint a vivd picture of the genre in all its modes. Forbidden Photos is the most restrained of the three but is nevertheless a classy warm-up for those nastier, more acid-tinged whodunnits that would follow.

Watched on Arrow blu-ray

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