THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF A MINOR (a.k.a. Too Young To Die) *** Italy 1975 Dir: Sergio Martino. 100 mins
An oddity from genre veteran Martino, this opens as a standard giallo (a teenage girl has her throat slashed at a seedy motel by a mystery killer in dark shades) before becoming an often jokey police procedural flick in which the characteristically seedy undercurrent (in the vein of WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?) sits ill at ease with an absurdist sense of humour.
Claudio Cassinelli plays it big and broad as the cop on the case who seems more concerned about his stolen gold lighter and the soccer lottery than he is the grubby underworld of sex trafficking and murder in Milan. There are the usual inept witnesses (“I’m not that good with faces”), a pickpocket-sidekick and an abundance of amusingly crude dialogue (“Any tell-tale traces of love juice, doctor?” Cassinelli asks the coroner). Cassinelli, who has “MYOFB” as his personal acronym (Mind Your Own Fucking Business) links the plot via abducted children, a group called Kidnappers Anonymous, a Mel Ferrer cameo and a bravura suspense sequence on a rollercoaster. It’s a lively picture, though the wilful goofiness does jar when set against a backdrop of grieving fathers and abused / murdered young women. There’s plenty of nudity as you’d expect from the sub-genre, and an admittedly funny extended chase sequence (set to jovial travelogue music and involving a van full of nuns, a bumbling pedestrian and a unicyclist) takes the movie into pure Blake Edwards / Pink Panther territory for a while.
Review by Steven West