Let me be honest: I didn't especially care for "The Fifth Cord"as a thriller. There's nothing bad about the movie, a 1971 giallo directed by Luigi Bazzoni. The standard elements of a better giallo are there: the emotionally wounded protagonist, the negative impact of contemporary culture on the psyche and interpersonal relationships, and elaborate murders that link together a twisty plot capped by an out-of-left-field solution. In spite of boasting Franco Nero in the lead role and an un-terrible script, this film never connected with me.
Andrea Bild (Nero) is an alcoholic reporter involved in tempestuous relationships with his former wife and his current girlfriend. When people in his social circle are killed in a series of murders--connected by the presence of gloves with increasing numbers of fingers lopped off found at the scene of each crime--investigators focus on Andrea as the prime suspect. In order to clear his name, Andrea delves deeper into the mystery, bringing himself and his family into danger in the process.
There's little of the fantastique or psychedelic in "The Fifth Cord." Sure, the murders appear to have a link to astrology, but there are no mediums, cults or other Age of Aquarius trappings. The characters are far more measured and nuanced than the kind of leering fashion photographers, predatory bisexuals, and dissociative-disordered clerics that populate similar films. This is an upper middle class melodrama with murders; a well-executed one at that, but neither as insane nor as lurid as the kind of Italo-thriller I prefer.
However, if I view "The Fifth Cord" as ninety-minute fashion spread produced to highlight the clothing, accessories, and hairstyles, it's got an undeniable appeal. The art direction and cinematography are absolutely beautiful and complement the grounded-in-reality storyline. Just take a look at the following images--they could have been taken from an eyewear catalog published this Fall:
Maybe what I'm struggling with is the fact that "The Fifth Cord" is a classier beast than what agrees with my taste. It's an undeniably grown-up movie, opting for stylish tension over throat-grabbing gruesomeness. Sophisticates--and fashion photographers looking for inspiration for new campaigns--would be well-served by seeking this one out.