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us title: The Short Night of Glass Dolls
italian title: La corta notte delle bambole di vetro
year: 1971
director: Aldo Lado
composer: Ennio Morricone
full details: IMDB
overall score: 71

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

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

I seem to always forget that The Short Night of Glass Dolls is a good movie. I think it's because I always associate the film with its flashback narrative which is very atypical of the Giallo genre. But this feature is precisely what makes the film unique and highly enjoyable.

This film is a perfect example of how score does not necessarily dictate success. Unlike All the Colors of the Dark, which is universally considered to be a diversion from the genre, Short Night is lauded by most to be a quintessential Giallo. And yet it only scored a 59 on the Giallo Score. Why is that?

The film barely registered in the Staples section. A low score in this section indicates that the film deviates drastically from the Giallo blueprint. Specifically, there is no single black-gloved killer who is motivated by greed or psychological disorder, remains anonymous until the end of the film, and avoids capture by dying. However, all of these aspects are partially represented which, without the strict scrutiny of the score, allows the film to find a comfortable place among Argento and Martino, as well as Aldo Lado's own follow up, Who Saw Her Die.

  • Instead of a single killer, there is a diabolical group which dispatches some of its members to do its dirty work.

  • Instead of remaining hidden until the end of the film, Mira's body is revealed to the viewer in the closet of the Club 99 which clearly indicts at least some of the members for her murder. This scene also indicates a flaw in the storytelling, since the audience is supposed to be reliving the events through Greg's point of view via flashbacks. But hey, what's a Giallo without a few inconsistencies?

  • Instead of killing due to psychological trauma or greed, the group commits a sort of ritual sacrifice to renew the youth of its aging members.

  • Instead of avoiding capture by death, the killers avoid capture completely. There are a few Gialli where the killer "gets away with it" which is always a great twist, but not indicative of Giallo standards.

  • Finally, the film takes place in Prague. Which is gorgeously filmed, but loses points in the process.

All of this aside, Short Night is a great film borrowing its themes and style from Hitchcock and Film noir. The 2nd act moves a bit slow but this serves to set up the over-the-top ending which is one of the best in the genre.

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score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 35/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 27/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Flashback Revelation3 points
Mistaken Identity2 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 9/10
Comic Relief Character1 point
Death from Falling1 point
Foreigner1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Pathologist1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Pseudoscience1 point
Prove Innocence1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Total Points : 71/100



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Published: 2012-09-13