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October 30, 2008

In the Folds of the Flesh

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Nelle Pieghe della Carne
Sergio Bergonzelli - 1970
Severin Region 1 DVD

The erotic promise of the title is quickly eliminated when it revealed that the folds of flesh in the title refer to a different body part, the brain, in a quote that may or may not have been written by Sigmund Freud. A quick google search brought up more references to the painter, Lucien Freud. Had this been a film about Lucien Freud, or even by Lucien Freud, it would probably be better than what Sergio Bergonzelli concocted, and made a bit more sense. Even more disheartening is that this less than thrilling thriller was the final film for Eleonara Rossi Drago and close to the end of the line for Pier Angeli.

My main reason for bothering with this film was Eleonora Rossi Drago, whose passing was barely noticed. I'll see other films with her as they become available, but I am starting to suspect that there isn't much worth watching after Le Amiche and Violent Summer. The harshly lit In the Folds of Flesh does nothing to complement Ms. Rossi Drago or the actress billed here as Anna Maria Pierangeli. Seven years apart in age, the younger actress is suppose to be Rossi Drago's daughter, although they could have, and probably should have, played sisters. Seeing these two actresses as they appear in this film, it is almost hard to imagine that they were popular Italian screen queens fifteen years earlier.

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For a story about guilt, trauma and memory, In the Folds of the Flesh is not very well thought out. I'm not one to demand that this kind of film make a lot of sense. A flashback with Rossi Drago as a concentration camp prisoner marched naked with several other women, and forced to watch others die in a windowed gas chamber, is gratuitous on several levels. The use of a prism lens for Pierangeli's memories of murder are the height of creativity, lending a meaningless psychedelic touch to various beheadings of several unfortunate men. Some of the costuming choices forced on the actors are likely to make contemporary audiences squirm and cringe more than the sight of Rossi Drago disposing of body parts in a tub of acid.

More disappointing is that we have another reminder of the haphazard availability of older films on DVD. Several bloggers have posted on films they would like to see, many which are not viewable in any home format. Among the older Italian films I would like to see rescued with at least as much care as given In the Folds of the Flesh, there is Visconti's Sandra starring Claudia Cardinale, or Sign of the Gladiator, a peplum shot in part by Michelangelo Antonioni. At least get more films of Eleanor Rossi Drago when she was hot, such as the one with a poster that made a lasting memory on one impressionable youth.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 30, 2008 12:00 AM