19 September 2017
A Black Veil for Lisa (1968)
95 min.
Directed by Massimo Dallamano.
With John Mills, Luciana Paluzzi, Robert Hoffman, Renate Kasché, Tullio Altamura, Carlo Hinterman, Enzo Fiermonte, Loris Bazzocchi.
This superb police thriller from director Massimo Dallamano (1972's What Have You Done to Solange?, 1969's Venus in Furs) doubles as an early giallo prototype.

Hamburg detective Franz Bulon (Mills) is in the middle of an investigation into a powerful drug syndicate headed by an overlord known as Schuermann. But each time Bulon locates someone willing to tell him more about Schuermann, a black-gloved, knife-wielding killer slashes the would-be witness - and a frustrated Bulon finds himself back at the beginning.

Even as departmental pressure mounts on him to find the murderer and close the case, Bulon is increasingly preoccupied and distracted by his home life: could his beautiful -- and much younger -- wife, Lisa (Paluzzi) be having an extramarital affair?

His attempts to find out more about his wife's activities have only backfired and resulted in more distrust from Lisa.

Worse still, Lisa is an ex-criminal and has a sordid past connection to the world of drugs and narcotics trafficking. Could her dark history figure into the current Schuermann case somehow?

Convinced his wife is unfaithful, and with things beginning to spiral out of control, Bulon hires professional hitman Max Lindt (Hoffman) to kill his wife and rid himself of these paralyzing insecurities.

But will events play out as Bulon intends? What if Lisa turns the tables? Who will survive?

No stranger to the Italian crime genre, director Dallamano would later deliver the expert giallos What Have You Done to Solange? (1972) and What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974).

As much as A Black Veil for Lisa contains flashes of Dallamano's later gialli, it's also an excellent police thriller in its own right.

Mills is excellent as the weary and beleaguered detective in over his own head, and Hoffman, ever handsome, is expertly cast as the blue-eyed but soulless assassin who wants Lisa as much as he wants his freedom.

Raven-haired Paluzzi gives a terrific performance as the mercurial Lisa, with her beautiful but slightly expressionless face making a perfectly blank canvas on which the audience can choose to project its own insecurities and doubts.

Italian: La morte non ha sesso.

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