The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, nice thriller and example of giallo

Predictable story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Studio:  Central Cinema Company Film

Genre(s):  Mystery/Thriller/Horror

Release Date(s):  February 19, 1970

MPAA Rating:  PG


Seriously guy…you could be a bit more freaked out by me dying!!!

An American named Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses an attack on a woman (Eva Renzi) in an art gallery, but the attacker escapes.  Held by police who think he has seen something he cannot remember, Sam finds himself searching his memory for clues to the possible murder while researching the previous murders in the case.  As Sam, his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall), and Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno) get closer to the truth, they become targets of the killer themselves.

Directed by Dario Argento, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (original Italian title L’Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo) was an uncredited adaptation of the 1949 novel The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown.  The movie was Dario Aregento’s first solo attempt at directing and the first part of his “Animal” trilogy (followed by The Cat O’ Nine Tails in and Four Flies on Grey Velvet in both 1971).  The movie was well received by critics as an example of giallo and often is listed on “Best Of” lists particularly in foreign countries.


Who wouldn’t want a painting of a woman having a guy going Jack the Ripper on her?

I like Dario Argento films.  Their look, style and sound have a crazy style that is both over the top and fit the subjects.  This early film is a great example of the popular giallo which involves pulp crime, suspense, horror, and a general sexual thriller (the term derives from yellow crime paperbacks by Mondadori publishing company).

There is always a strange actor feel coming from Argento’s films.  Here, like in other films by Argento, the characters seem almost disconnected.  Strange looks, glares, and occurrences seem common place but almost don’t register with the characters.  It is pretty obvious that someone in the gallery owner’s family is unbalanced, and it seems crazy to me that the police don’t look into them closer.


I like to kill…it’s a hobby

Memory is always a big aspect of Argento’s film and here Dalmas keeps replaying the events of the attempted murder.  It reminds me a lot of the later film Dressed to Kill by Brian De Palma which obviously was influenced by this, but this (especially the lame explainer at the end) reminds me of Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is fun but a bit cliché in plot and story.  What seems obvious to the viewer is apparently unrecognizable to the characters in the film.  This does supply tension, but for me also provides more frustration.  If you are a fan of Argento, this is one of his more calm films, and it is interesting to see how he has progressed.

Related Links:

The Cat O’Nine Tails (1971)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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