Olive Films' brings Massimo Dallamano's giallo A BLACK VEIL FOR LISA to Blu-ray in its American version.
Hamburg narcotics detective Franz Bulon (John Mills, GANDHI) has been pursuing an underworld figure known only as Schuermann, but anyone willing to talk about the him (or her) winds up murdered before Bulon can get to them. Bulon is distracted from tracing a possible leak by his insecurity over his marriage to the much younger Lisa (Lucianna Paluzzi, 99 WOMEN) who has tired of his jealousy and baits him with the possibility of having a lover. Bulon's distraction is not lost on Commissioner Ostermeyer (Tullio Altamura, ATOM AGE VAMPIRE) who is pressuring Bulon to close the case. When Bulon discovers a silver dollar dented by a bullet at the murder scene of potential information Muller (Bernardino Solitari), he follows up the hunch on his own and captures hired assassin Max Lindt (Robert Hoffmann, DEATH CARRIES A CANE). Before Bulon can take Max back to headquarters he spots his wife getting into a red Porsche and follows her. Seething with jealousy, Bulon uncuffs Max and offers him freedom in exchange for killing his wife. When Bulon discovers that Lisa was telling the truth about the Porsche belonging to a girlfriend, he rushes to find Max to stop him from carrying out the job. His discovery that Max has entered into a heated affair with Lisa turns out to be less disturbing than circumstantial evidence that suggests Lisa might be his security leak and able to turn Max against him.
Like other Commonwealth United foreign pick-ups, A BLACK VEIL FOR LISA was retailored for American audiences (and British since it is this version that Commonwealth also released in the UK). The original score by Giovanni Fusco (L'ECLISSE) and Gianfranco Reverberi (Renato Polselli's DELIRIUM) was replaced with more traditional orchestral suspense by Richard Markowitz along with the new theme song "Melodie de Lisa" written by "Happy Together" lyricists Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon ("It Lisa had a heart, she never let it show…"). The film was also trimmed by approximately ten minutes while other scenes were rearranged. As beautiful as Paluzzi is, Lisa is not compelling enough a character for the film to withstand giving away one of the story's biggest twists by turning the final scene into a wraparound. As usual, Hoffmann is very handsome but just as bland. The film works best when focusing on Mills' character, his paranoid fantasies, and alienating jealousy; although even this is undercut by the annoying whispered "Lisa! Lisa!" throughout the American score.
The cinematography of Angelo Lotti (VENUS IN FURS) is slick and colorful but lacking in the style of director Massimo Dallamano's own previous efforts as cinematographer. In his short career as director, Dallamano helmed a handful of crime films (SUPER BITCH, COLT 38 SPECIAL SQUAD) and horror (THE NIGHT CHILD, DORIAN GRAY), but is best known for the first two efforts of his "schoolgirls in peril" giallo trilogy WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? and WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO OUR DAUGHTERS? before his death in a car accident in 1976. American post-production was supervised by editors Robert Eisen (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) and music editor Harry Eisen (SHOWDOWN AT BOOT HILL) assisted by TV editors Stanley Frazen (THE GEORGE BURNS AND GRACIE ALLEN SHOW) and Mike Posen (THE MONKEES) who also reworked Umberto Lenzi's PARANOIA (actually ORGASMO, not to be confused with Lenzi's other giallo PARANOIA which was released here as A QUIET PLACE TO KILL) and Jess Franco's VENUS IN FURS and 99 WOMEN for US release.
Olive Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-ray represents this American edit (88:18) which makes its vivid colors immediately apparent with the Commonwealth United logo (different from the one seen at the head of VENUS IN FURS), and the remainder is a thoroughly satisfying visual and aural (audio in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono) rendition of a compromised version of Dallamano's film. As per usual for Olive, there are no extras. (Eric Cotenas)
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