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Pier Paolo Capponi
After his sickly wife's sudden death of an asthma attack, an unscrupulous doctor discovers that she has a doppelgänger who is a burlesque dancer, not aware of the intricate scheme that's being weaved around him.
Jean, a rich Parisian socialite, comes to the aid of a frightened young woman (Nicole) who is under the domineering control of her abusive boyfriend, Klaus. Although married, Jean develops a romantic relationship with Nicole. However, he may have gotten himself involved in more than he bargained for.
This movie (not to be confused with another Carroll Baker vehicle "Kiss Me, Kill Me" aka "Baba Yagi--the Witch")is Umberto Lenzi's follow-up to his groundbreaking classic "Paranoia". It came out the same year as Dario Argento's "The Bird with Crystal Plumage" (the film which started the deluge of Italian gialli) and was produced by the Martino brothers, who later made a number of interesting giallo films (usually featuring Eugenio Martino's alluring mistress, Edwige Fenech). It stars Carroll Baker, demonstrating her acting chops here by playing a character that is the exact opposite of the naive victim she played in "Paranoia", and it also features two excellent, native European actors--Jean Loius Trintignant and the gorgeous Erica Blanc. The script is surprisingly well-written and full of suspense and genuine surprises. It is a clever variation on the classic French film "Diabolique" with a decadent, high-society husband (Tritignant), wife (Blanc), and mistress (Baker) all crossing and double-crossing each other. It cleverly plays with the viewers awareness of the earlier film before throwing in an unexpected curve.
It also seems to be very well filmed. (It's hard to believe that years later Lenzi would be making nauseating and inept cannibal films like "Cannibal Ferox" or just plain inept American slasher movies like "Hitcher in the Dark"). I say seems, however, because this film is only available on second or third generation copies of Greek videotapes that are not only panned-and-scanned, but are very badly panned-and-scanned so that the characters are often halfway off the screen. Trying to appreciate this movie is like trying to appreciate a beautiful painting that has both sides cropped off and is covered with really murky cellophane (and burnt-in Greek subtitles). If Lenzi's crap movies like "Ferox", "Hitcher", and even, god help us all,"Eaten Alive", can get the star DVD treatment, why can't "Paranoia" or this little gem?
Oh, but I almost forgot--despite the title there isn't too much perversity here. Baker has a lot more nude scenes in "Paranoia". There is some Blanc-related nudity (although, in my opinion, you can never have enough of that), but the lesbian relationship between the two of them is unfortunately only hinted at. Of course, it may just have been cropped out. . .
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