La Corta Notte della Bambole de Vetro (Short Night of Glass Dolls) (Aldo Lado, 1971)
Short Night of Glass Dolls, Aldo Lado’s debut film, is the movie that has been sitting in the review queue the longest, as of this writing. I watched it, my spreadsheet tells me, almost two years ago, on March 22, 2012. Well, my new year’s resolution to not have anything on this list for longer than a year (hey, I have to be gradual about these things…you’d be horrified if you saw how many completely empty title headers are sitting in this document) gives me a kick in the pants to start writing something about Short Night of Glass Dolls. And, true to form, I started off writing an entire paragraph about how I haven’t written anything about Short Night of Glass Dolls in almost two years. Which is interesting, in that I actually remember a good deal more about this movie than I do many, many that I have seen between March 22, 2012 and now, despite the rather lackluster rating I gave it (for the tl;dr crowd, whose eyes are probably already glazed over, I’ll tell you it’s 2.5 and you can get on with your lives).
The story revolves around Gregory Moore (Belle de Jour‘s Jean Sorel, who amusingly features in another movie that’s about to hit the one-year mark without a review, Fred Zinnemann’s The Day of the Jackal), an American journalist in Italy. He’s pretty much living the good life—until, that is, he wakes up one day to find himself unable to move, sitting on an operating table, with everyone around him believing he’s dead. We spend the rest of the movie inside Gregory’s head, as he tries to figure out how he got here, and what chain of events might have led to this. But you know it’s going to have something to do with the ultra-hot girlfriend, Mira (Caveman‘s Barbara Bach)…
Here’s the big problem with Short Night of Glass Dolls in 2014 (or 2012, in any case). In 1971, how he got on that table in the morgue was probably a huge mystery to 99% of the people who went to the theater. These days, the mechanism of same (which has been canon since a certain 1985 Wes Craven film introduced it to the general public, and it’s been used dozens of times since in mystery, thriller, and horror films) is going to shock exactly no one—and since the entire movie is leading up to that revelation, well, it’s a bit of a let-down. That said, the journey to that predictable destination is not a bad one at all, as long as you’ve got a firm grasp on the conventions of giallo (cheap effects, mediocre acting, a few gratuitous shock scenes to keep the audience from falling asleep); if you’re a fan of the genre, this is one you need to see. If you’re not, you might be better off starting with some of the genre’s more accessible films (the 126-minute director’s cut of Profondo Rosso is usually where I point people). ** ½
The full film, dubbed.