A giallo actually based on a literary source (here it’s the novel by D.M. Devine covered in Peter Jilmstad’s essay in the booklet included with this release), Luigi Bazzoni’s thriller The Fifth Cord has an entertaining enough but perfunctory mystery at its core. It’s so much more than the murderous mayhem that unfolds onscreen, however, and like the recently released The Possessed (co-directed by Bazzoni), is an example of how the various other elements of a film can envelop and transcend a plot that isn’t particularly compelling. This is the giallo as art film and an incredible achievement, supported by solid performances from the likes of stars Franco Nero and Silvia Monti.
The mystery follows shambolic alcoholic and self-sabotaging reporter Andrea Bild (Nero) as he attempts to unravel a series of linked murders and reveal the culprit. It’s of special interest to Bild because he finds himself a main suspect of the police and must clear his name. The Fifth Cord does build towards an effective conclusion, and a later scene of the killer stalking a child in an empty house must rank as one of the genre’s best. The main appeal of The Fifth Cord actually lies more in its absolutely outstanding production design, the stunning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro and the direction from Bazzoni. It’s as beautiful and remarkable as you’re likely to find not just in giallo but cinema in general, and is a towering accomplishment for Bazzoni and Storaro. The new 2K scan here supports the artistic vision with a pin-sharp picture and deep colours that show off the frequently breath-taking compositions to their fullest.
For the extras, special mention must go to a fascinating and invaluable 18-minute visual essay from critic Rachael Nisbet that unpacks the approach taken and highlights the directorial choices and subtext that fills The Fifth Cord. Matching this is a new 23-minute interview with Nero that could easily be double the length, such a pleasure is it to spend time in the company of the great man. There’s an interesting near 30-minute interview with writer Michael Mackenzie that contextualises the film and a full-length commentary from critic Travis Crawford - both touch on the arguable shortcomings of the plot while highlighting the many positives of the film. There’s an interview with editor Eugenio Alabiso that runs to just over 20 minutes and is well worth it. That aforementioned booklet also includes writing on the film by Kat Ellinger, and rounding out the package is a deleted scene, trailers and an image gallery. It’s an important, compelling film and this release supports it with substantial extras, and as such comes highly recommended.
DIRECTOR: LUIGI BAZZONI | SCREENPLAY: MARIO DI NARDO, MARIO FANELLI, LUIGI BAZZONI | STARRING: FRANCO NERO, SILVIA MONTI, ROSSELLA FALK, EDMUND PURDOM, MAURIZIO BONUGLIA, PAMELA TIFFIN | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW