ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER
Jean Sorel,Marisa Mell,Elsa Martinelli, John Ireland, Alberto De Mendoza, George Riguad, Faith Domergu, Jean Sobiesky, Riccardo Cucciola
Lucio Fulci's 'Zombie Quartet' may well have won him a place in horror's 'Hall Of Fame', but it's the giallo branch of his career that contains his best work. Sublime thrillers such as Don't Torture A Duckling (1972), A Lizard In A Woman's Skin (1971) and Seven Notes In Black (aka The Psychic - 1977) have now made the leap from VHS to DVD/DVD, offering greatly improved clarity: all the better to display their twisted webs of malice and murder.Una Sull' altra was Fulci's first giallo: an impressive declaration of future intent which, while lacking the violence of his later efforts, is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat as its delicious plot unravels.Brothers Geroge and Henry Dumurrier (Sorel & De Martino) run a private clinic where the former makes false claims about the practice in order to generate publicity. Away from the clinic, George leaves his sick wife, Susan (Mell), to be cared for by her sister (Domergu) while he conducts an affair with Martha (Martinelli), the wife of a business contact. When George receives a call informing him of Susan's death, his shock is only matched by the subsequent discovery of an insurance policy that will make him some $2 million richer.During a visit to a nightclub, George and Martha are transfixed by a gorgeous blonde named Monica Weston (Mell) who bears a striking resemblance to his late wife. While George pursues the enigmatic Monica, word reaches him that traces of poison have been found in Susan's body. Death by natural causes has now become murder, and George is the only suspect. As the police and the insurance company strive to discover the truth, George must uncover the real identity of his new lover and trace the whereabouts of the elusive woman who can prove his innocence.To the uninitiated, a brief synopsis of this film will likely suggest standard insurance scam, with a pretty blonde thrown in to liven up proceedings as and when necessary. Yes, there are elements of the screenplay that inevitably produce sparks of recognition and Mell is certainly guaranteed to raise the temperature by a good 50 degrees, but she plays with the script rather than alongside it, clearly relishing her role as femme fatale: think Vertigo as reference to her is-she-or-isn't-she character, while her married surname is a clear nod to the author of..... Rebecca.Our first glimpse of Weston is a real show-stopper, treating her club audience to an incendiary striptease, with motorbike as prop. Later in the film, she displays more of that fabulous body than was the case in (surely her best known role) Danger:Diabolik, though Mell's best scene occurs after leaving George Dumurrier high and dry. Elsa Martinelli also scores high marks for her performance, as Martha uses her feminine wiles to search for the truth and to explore the dark side of her nature during a memorable attempted seduction of Monica. The rest of the cast are all more than acceptable, with special mention going to Riccardo Cucciola's Benjamin Wormser; Monica's downtrodden partner-of-sorts, whose words will eventually come back to haunt the perpetrators of a brilliantly conceived crime.For the lions share of its running time, Una Sull' altra comes over as an exquisitely crafted thriller, methodical rather than slow-moving, and mostly utterly absorbing. The camera work - from Alejandro Ulloa who shot Franco's Diabolical Dr.Z - compliments Fulci's splendid direction, and would have been even more effective had the brief split-screen photography been used in scenes that contained some of the more dramatic moments.Una Sull' altra is now available on DVD from the splendid Severin in the form of the French theatrical cut, and has been newly transferred from a negative element. In France, this film was released under the title PERVERSION STORY and this cut contains scenes never seen before in any English language release. Fulci-ites will find the bonus of a CD featuring Riz Ortolani's music to be a nifty addition.