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April 25, 2018

All the Colours of Sergio Martino

all the colours of sergio.jpg

Kat Ellinger - 2018
Arrow Books

At the time that this blog was in its infancy, a new DVD label specializing in Italian films generously put my on the screeners list. The first DVDs received were of two films by Sergio Martino, Gambling City and Almost Human. The films were my simultaneous introductions to Italian crime films and the work of Martino. I have since seen several other films by Martino, both through the now defunct NoShame label, as well as other sources. And while Sergio Martino has made films in several genres, I would suggest that he is rightly best known for his forays into giallo, often with films starring Edwige Fenech.

Not quite all the colors are here. Kat Ellinger's book might be said to be a portrait in broad strokes. There is some detail regarding a handful of films, usually going over the basic plot, with notes on the main cast. The book probably works best as providing a general overview on this journeyman filmmaker. Sources of information include interviews and Martino's own writings. We're provided a bit of his family background and early work prior to directing, with chapters mostly divided into types of films made over the course of several decades. Fenech also has one chapter devoted to her work with Martino, while a final chapter discusses some of the films made more Italian television.

The book is designed primarily for English language viewers, with a list of films that have been made available on DVD and/or Blu-ray for the English language market. Where Ellinger is strongest is in discussing the state of Italian cinema at the time certain films were made, and how Martino reacted to changes within the film industry. As far as the films go, while I like the gialli with Fenech, there are films like Mountain of the Cannibal God which are better left to the hard-core completists. What is missing here is any sense of Sergio Martino as a visual stylist, distinguishing him from such peers as Umberto Lenzi or Enzo Castellari.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at April 25, 2018 10:05 AM