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us title: The Cat o' Nine Tails
italian title: Il gatto a nove code
year: 1971
director: Dario Argento
composer: Ennio Morricone
full details: IMDB
overall score: 81

Bottom Line: Entertaining
Nothing ground breaking here, but a fun time nonetheless.


WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Cat o' Nine Tails has a soft spot in my heart. It's the first film in the genre that really clicked with me. I originally acquired a horrible VHS copy (released by Simitar Entertainment with the killer revealed RIGHT ON THE FRONT COVER!), but then invested (heavily at the time) in an upgrade to the Japanese laserdisc. The improved video fidelity and unmodified aspect ratio breathed new life into the film and I've probably watched it more than any other Giallo.



As far as the Giallo Score is concerned, Cat falls short in a few of the genre staples:
  1. The killer is not motivated by irrational psychological trauma. He's merely trying to save his career and avoid being blackmailed. The fact that his chromosomal abnormality defines him as psychotic enough to commit murder is fantastic irony, but not what motivates him.

  2. The iconic black gloves are missing. Argento used them in Bird but not again until Deep Red. In Cat, the fetish is more related to the eye than the hands (as evidenced in the iris close-up shot and Arno's blindness).

  3. There is no flashback, accomplice, or falsely accused suspect. The story is very straightforward, with very little emotional elements related to the killer.
But despite losing some points, Cat is a very enjoyable film thanks to some great acting, a well-paced story, and some very memorable musical themes from Morricone. "Enjoy the ride..." is the best advice for how to approach this film. Maitland McDonagh writes:

"Unlike the thriller that's spoiled if the ending is revealed prematurely, The Cat O'Nine Tails is infinitely more fun to watch once one knows [...] is the killer."



And it's for this exact reason that I continue to enjoy watching it over and over again. With each step in the Arno/Giordani detective process I think about what the killer has done (or not done) to lead them there and what he'll do next.

Cat o' Nine Tails will never be regarded as Argento's best work, but it's a fun ride that never seems to get old.



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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 50/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Blackmail/Gain5 points
Avoid Capture: Acciental Death/Suicide10 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 21/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Italian Location3 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 11/10
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Chase scene1 point
Comic Relief Character1 point
Death from Falling1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
J&B1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Pseudoscience1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Taunting1 point
Total Points : 81/100



trailer


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Published: 2012-09-13