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us title: Don't Torture a Duckling
italian title: Non si sevizia un paperino
year: 1972
director: Lucio Fulci
composer: Riz Ortolani
full details: IMDB
overall score: 92

Bottom Line: Must-See
A quintessential example of the genre.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

Before establishing himself as the godfather of the Italian Zombie film, Lucio Fulci created three authentic Gialli during the genre's rise to popularity and Don't Torture a Duckling is widely considered to be the best of the three. The film is gripping, heartfelt, violent, controversial, and beautiful all at the same time.

Gialli that deal with the death of children are never considered light-hearted, but Duckling goes even further by introducing subtexts that criticize the superstitious mob-mentality of the lower class and vilify the Catholic church. And although Fulci abandons the slick, modern visual style of his previous two Gialli, Duckling is still very stylish and well photographed. Oh, and let's not forget the inclusion of Barbara Bouchet as the image of modern beauty among the jagged rocks (and faces) of Accendura.

The pacing of the film is unique in that the amateur detectives don't really get started looking for the killer until the murders have ended and most of the suspects have been absolved. The police force, who dominate the first two thirds of the film, are completely absent in the final act.

Duckling would have achieved a near-perfect Giallo Score were it not for points lost in Standards section:
  • Dona Aurelia knows that her son is the killer, but she really can't be considered an accomplice because she didn't facilitate or participate in any of the murders.

  • Accendura is about as far from an urban location as you can get.

Also the black gloves ruling is a little tough to prove, but they are clearly visible during the murder sequence of Michele in the rain.

In summary, Don't Torture a Duckling is a unique film. It is a classic Giallo by even the strictest of definitions and yet it looks and feels like no other film in the genre. It's a film that can (and should) be studied by anyone with a deep appreciation for the art of the cinema, Giallo or otherwise.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 60/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Black Gloves5 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Avoid Capture: Acciental Death/Suicide10 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 22/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Flashback Revelation3 points
Italian Location3 points
Mistaken Identity2 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Signatures : 11/10
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Attend Funeral1 point
Death from Falling1 point
Dolls/Dummies1 point
J&B1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Peeping Tom1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Priest1 point
Prove Innocence1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Total Points : 92/100



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Published: 2012-09-13