All the Colors of Giallo (2019)


Italian crime thrillers from the late 1960s to the middle to late 1970s earned the name giallo because it was the term for cheap crime novels from the 1920s.  Often issued with a yellow cover they featured murders that led to a number of strange twists and turns before getting to a surprise ending when the killer was revealed.  Not to be confused with the actual police procedurals of the 1970s, gialli became a genre all their own despite various influences, such as the 1960s German krimi films, American film noir and the works of Alfred Hitchcock.

A number of Italian directors made movies in the genre during its heyday, but except for a few one-offs that were exceptional examples director Federico Caddeo concentrates on the most well-known filmmakers in his documentary, All the Colors of Giallo.  These include Dario Argent, Umberto Lenzi, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martino.  He also takes the time to give the movies some context through film historian Fabio Melelli as well as discussions with some of the actors and writers involved as well.

Although this is all in Italian, with subtitles for the English audience, it is packed full of information.  The information comes from those involved, with Fulci's segment featuring archival interviews and not shying away from his opinions on Argento, although Argento himself sticks largely to talking about his experiences finding an audience for The Bird with the Crystal PlumagePut together by Severin, who is responsible for re-releasing many of these movies, trailers and movie posters are used to break up what is essentially a number of talking heads.

Therein lies the problem.  If one wants to learn more about the genre and the people behind them this is worthwhile, and as that type of person I found it so.  Casual viewers may not like the fact that it is largely people sitting in a rented office building or giving interviews from their own homes.  Given the age of most of the participants - Umberto Lenzi, Daria Niccolodi and George Hilton are no longer with us - it's not surprising that they didn't follow them around much with a film crew, but this has more the feel of an extra in a box set or a special for TCM or Shudder than it does a fleshed-out documentary film. 

Caddeo keeps the runtime right where it should be, and some of the stories are quite interesting.  I did like hearing Argento talk about his first film as well as Barbara Bouchet recalling some on-set drama during the making of Don't Torture a Duckling.  There are also some sweet memories that Hilton has about working with Edwige Fenech, who is also briefly interviewed.  While not the flashiest of documentaries All the Colors of Giallo is definitely satisfying for those of us who didn't grow up with these films and crave a bit more information on them. 

All the Colors of Giallo (2019)
Time: 89 minutes
Starring: Fabio Melelli, Dario Argento, Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino
Director: Federico Caddeo 

 

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