Italian director Dario Argento is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time. He is often regarded as the ‘Italian Hitchcock’ and I think that is a fair assessment of his talents. He used gore in poetic and beautiful ways, tells great tales of mystery and murder, and does it all with the paintbrush of a great artist creating stunning images on screen. Among his most popular films are the classic Suspiria with Jessica Harper, the ultimate Giallo film Opera, and one of Jennifer Connolly’s early films and a fantastically unique movie, Phenomena. But often overlooked are Argento’s early films that play out much more like thrillers, almost traditional murder mysteries but full of stylistic flair. Deep Red and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage are both wonderful examples of this period and they go together nicely with another film getting the deluxe treatment from Arrow Video, The Cat O’Nine Tails.
Franco Arno (Karl Malden) is a blind man living with his young niece Lori (Cinzia De Carolis) and making a living creating crossword puzzles. One night while on a walk he overhears a strange conversation between two men in a parked car outside a medical facility. When the same facility is broken into that night, Arno decides to investigate the crime with the help of reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus). But when their investigation leads to darker things including murder, Arno must proceed delicately to protect his niece and his own life.
The Cat O’Nine Tails is a brilliantly entertaining mystery led by the incomparable Karl Malden in a very different but intriguing role. The story is much less gory than other works of Argento’s and focuses much more on the mystery and investigation, more in the style of an Agatha Christie tale. There is also a fair amount of humor here, something not as common in Argento’s filmography. The Cat O’Nine Tails is beautifully filmed and acted and features a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone.
This extensive new special edition of The Cat O’Nine Tails from Arrow Video features absolutely stunningly beautiful packaging, a great book and double sided poster, a new 4K restoration of the film that looks amazing, original mono English and Italian soundtracks, new audio commentaries and interviews and much more. Very highly recommended, especially for Argento fans.