[box cover]

The Fifth Cord

There is no science to what comes out on DVD. Everything released by a major studio to theaters is likely to hit DVD shortly thereafter, but when it comes to catalog titles — other than when they come in conjunction with a similarly themed recent release — it's a duck-shoot. And for studio-free boutique companies like Blue Underground, the titles they release have to be picked and chosen from what is available to them. As such, because there is an interest in Giallo, a modest film like 1971's Giornata nera per l'ariete ("The Fifth Cord") can be out on DVD with some nice bells and whistles while other titles wait for their day on disc. Franco Nero (best known for his role as Django in the endless spaghetti western series) stars as Andrea Bild, an alcoholic, womanizing reporter who was at a New Year's Eve bash where one partygoer was murdered shortly thereafter and another assaulted. He tries to figure out who's behind the slayings while fighting with his girlfriend (Pamela Tiffin), whose brother may be involved with the killings. The killer has left one clue: After each murder he leaves a glove with a new finger missing for each victim. Directed by Luigi Bazzoni, most notable about The Fifth Cord are the collaborators. The picture was shot by Vittorio Storaro and scored by Ennio Morricone, so without a doubt it is a pleasant viewing experience, while it's filled with some well-done sequences of murder and sex that make such films appealing (though tame considering what would come later from Italian filmmakers) . But the murder mystery elements of the story are modest, and the plot plods along until the killer is revealed. Nero is an appealing leading man, but when he leaves the screen and a woman is left alone, it's all too apparent that her character will not survive into the next reel (if she flashes some skin, there's absolutely no hope). And, as the stakes on Bild's character never feel that high, it never becomes breathless, or all that involving. It is pretty to look at, though. Blue Underground presents The Fifth Cord in a very pleasant anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with monaural DD 2.0 audio in English. Since the performers seem to be speaking English (or trying to), even though it was obviously made in Italy, this seems for the best. Extras include the featurette Giornata Nera (Black Days), which includes interviews with Storaro and Nero about the film, and they both champion director Bazzoni as a good friend and collaborator. Also included is the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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