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us title: The Fifth Chord
italian title: Giornata nera per l'ariete
year: 1971
director: Luigi Bazzoni
composer: Ennio Morricone
full details: IMDB
overall score: 83

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

WARNING: Spoilers Below

score analysis

The Fifth Chord is a Giallo that you can watch without paying any attention to what's going on. The film is so incredibly pleasing to the eye that it's easy to get lost in its style and not realize that a couple of plot twists have passed you by. Every frame of The Fifth Chord seems perfectly constructed and lit. This is largely due to the cinematographic efforts of 3-time Oscar winner, Vittorio Storaro, who also lensed Argento's first film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.

But a good Giallo typically has more going for it than just looks. So if (or when) you eventually get past the visuals you'll find a compelling and fast-paced plot that holds its own against Argento and Martino, a hypnotic score by Morricone, a host of attractive female characters, and one of the best Giallo protagonists and anti-heroes in Andrea Bild.

Unfortunately, the Giallo Score is not as kind to The Fifth Chord as I am. The film lost a whopping 18 points by:
  1. Adorning the killer with flesh-colored gloves instead of black ones. A stylistic alternative that will crop up again in The Black Belly of the Tarantula and The Case Of The Bloody Iris.

  2. Allowing the killer to live and be carted off by police instead of dying after being thrown over the ledge by Bild.

  3. Never allowing the police apprehend the wrong person. Bild is suspect throughout the entire film, but the police never do anything more than just harass him.

In a way it's a shame that these decisions were made because The Fifth Chord could have easily landed a near perfect score. But this is the great thing about the Giallo genre - tiny variations allow certain films to stand out without diverting too far from the genre standards.

The "Must-See" recommendation should be obvious here, if only for the visuals.

Return to the Score Listings

score breakdown

Hint: Hover over a score item for more details
Staples : 45/60
Italian Director10 points
Hidden Identity10 points
Amateur Detective5 points
Classic Period (1970 - 1975)5 points
Motivation: Psychological Trauma/Revenge10 points
Director > 15 points
Standards : 28/30
Body Count >= 34 points
Flashback Revelation3 points
Italian Location3 points
More than one killer or accomplice4 points
Morricone/Nicolai/Ortolani3 points
Nude Scene >= 13 points
Suspects >= 34 points
Urban Location4 points
Signatures : 12/10
Animal, Number, Color, or "Death" in title1 point
Attend Funeral1 point
Bathtub Murder1 point
Car or Motorcycle Racing1 point
Chase scene1 point
Gay/Lesbian1 point
J&B1 point
Odd Clue1 point
Photography/Glamor/Modeling/Art1 point
Prove Innocence1 point
Spiral Stairs1 point
Taunting1 point
Total Points : 83/100



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Published: 2012-09-13