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us title: My Dear Killer
italian title: Mio caro assassino
year: 1972
director: Tonino Valerii
composer: Ennio Morricone
full details: IMDB
overall score: 67

Bottom Line: A Worthwhile Deviation
Breaks some important rules and comes out on top as a result.

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

By all accounts, Tonino Valerii's My Dear Killer is considered a Giallo. And at first glance it would appear that the film employs all the characteristics of the genre. Released in 1972, the film deals with a murder mystery involving several suspects and a black gloved killer. It stars George Hilton and features a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. 

No-brainer right? Has to be a Giallo. But hang on a minute, what's with this score of 67? The Giallo Score doesn't seem to agree with this assessment. Let's delve a little deeper and find out why.

My first time through My Dear Killer left me dizzy. Anyone who has seen the film can attest that it features one of the most intricate plots of the genre. By the time I got to the final scene I didn't understand who the killer was, or his motivation, or even what Stefania's drawing pertained to. But proper enjoyment of the film is not dependent upon following the story. George Hilton's acting is quite good (even considering the English dubbing) and there are a few show-stopping murder set pieces.

On my second attempt to watch the film, I took copious notes. The major hurdle in understanding the plot is getting all of the names straight. Beyond that, the film spends its time balancing between trying to unravel the actions and motives of the insurance adjuster (Paradisi), clues surrounding the abduction and death of the Moroni girl (Stefania) and the murderer staying one step ahead of Luca Paretti in order to eliminate any evidence that would be incriminating.

As I tried to keep up with the plot I also kept referring back to the Giallo Score and awarded points whenever I could. But it doesn't take too long to realize that My Dear Killer is missing some very important Giallo characteristics:

1. First and foremost, there is no amateur detective. Inspector Paretti is operating within the confines of the law and leverages all the resources of his department to help him. Most of his research is done by someone else. He simply follows the clues and makes deductions. In this way, My Dear Killer is much more like a crime drama than a Giallo. Add to this the intricate plot and overabundance of characters and film could easily be classified as Italian Noir.

2. At the end of the film, we should assume that the killer is apprehended. This is typical of a crime thriller whose main character (and the central focus of the film) is an officer of the law. The killer's accidental death or suicide would render the film off balance considering that the investigation was conducted "by the book". But by Giallo standards, this is a bit of a let down.

3. This is Tonino Valerii's only foray into the world of the Giallo and most likely a stepping stone between obscurity and his Spaghetti Westerns.

In addition to these 3 major omissions, My Dear Killer lacks many of the Signatures that most Gialli embrace. The odd clue and child's drawing are the only two that register here.

Again, like Noir, the film's central focus is on Paretti and his quest to solve the puzzle. The details become obscured in their complexity and we rely on Paretti to perform most of the deducing for us, allowing us to sit back and enjoy the film and wait for Paretti to explain his next revelation in detail.

But the film does make a valiant effort to appeal to Giallo fans with its tense (and somewhat ridiculous) murder setpieces. The decapitation of Paradisi by a dredger at the opening of the film is a jaw dropper for sure. But also, the circular saw drill murder of the school teacher is equally head-scratching. At this point in the film, the killer is simply on a mission to destroy evidence, but using the drill indicates that the killer is overcome by passion and emotion. Strangling Paradisi's wife at the bank worked just fine. So why all of this fanfare for the school teacher?

The highlight of the film (besides the dredger scene) is the final scene where Paretti confronts all of the suspects at the Moroni home and reveals the killer. Having paid attention to the characters and their subtle traits, Stefania's drawing on the back of the mirror made perfect sense.

My Dear Killer is a good film with a well-paced and interesting plot and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys this period of Italian filmmaking. But I find it a stretch to call it a Giallo, and this time the Giallo Score agrees with me.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 40/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Black Gloves5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Standards : 24/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Flashback Revelation3 points
Italian Location3 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 3/10
Odd Clue1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Visual Misinterpretation1 point
Total Points : 67/100



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Published: 2014-01-24