Director – Luigi Bazzoni
Cast – Franco Nero, Silvia Monti, Wolfgang Preiss, Ira von Fürstenberg, Edmund Purdom, Rossella Falk, Renato Romano, Guido Alberti
Release Year – 1971
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After coming across The Fifth Cord randomly, I quickly saw that it was an early 70s Italian giallo film that I had to see due to my love for the sub-genre. Once you have seen a fair amount of giallo films they all tend to come off the same in template and cliches, just like the slasher sub-genre, but with moderate execution these films deliver a fun watch that will keep you engaged from the get-go, and that is the case with The Fifth Cord, one of the sub-genre’s most under-appreciated films.
Franco Nero(Die Hard 2) stars as Andrea Bild, an alcoholic reporter assigned to a mysterious murder case in which each new victim is found with a glove containing a severed finger sleeve, counting down from five fingers to what will ultimately be the final victim and the last chance to catch the killer. Andrea’s drinking habits leave him not only at the wrong place at the wrong time, but without an alibi due to his drunken memory. Due to this he soon finds himself dealing with the police force as a strong suspect in the murders, and he races against time to track down the killer he is suffering for, a killer very well aware of Andrea’s task.
For a 1971 Italian horror film I was very impressed with the look and feel of this watch. Aided by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro(Apocalypse Now, The Last Emporer) amazing visuals and camerawork, director Luigi Bazzoni crafts this this building piece into a positive giallo effort with awesome execution of every element involved. Acting performances are stellar, the kill sequences are satisfying, and despite this film not containing the high-level violence and intensity as Argento’s works we are still given good tension when called for. We are also given amazing sets, a staple of Italian films, and Bazzoni’s execution of the killer in all aspects are fantastic, even if we don’t get much action from the killer in comparison to other films of this nature.
The storyline overall is nothing overly original, and it includes the standard giallo template. Luigi Bazooni, accompanied by two other writers, included many other interesting elements into the storyline, making this film stand on its own as a giallo effort. I took joy in this watch in that it did not come with the usual giallo elements mentioned previously, but instead focused more on our lead character and the personal battles he must wage to clear his name and not so much on the killer. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a blasphemy to the giallo sub-genre, just a different and respectable take. The scenes that we do get involving the killer are positive though, and I would not have minded if more scenes were written in, but that was not the case and I will not fault this for film that thanks to its writing excellence for all other matters.
Overall, The Fifth Cord is an excellent giallo film that gives us the usual unique murder-mystery story complimented by fantastic direction/camerawork from the Bazzoni-Storaro duo. The film takes its time and does not hit as hard as other more violent giallo pieces, but I found no fault in that thanks to good writing and direction.