Inspector Franz Bulon is hot on the trail of a drug-dealing gang who keep offing suspects just as he's about to take them in. He's also on the trail of his hot wife, whom he suspects of infidelity. Does that last bit make grammatical sense? Probably. You know what I mean, anyway. But yeah, Bulon tracks down the assassin, Sexy Max, but decides against taking him in. Instead, he cuts a deal: Sexy Max will kill his possibly unfaithful wife, and Extremely Unprofessional and Crazy Bulon will overlook all the other murders. But that's not the end of it; strap in for a couple of slight twists which will literally make you breathe normally.
As you may have gathered, I don't overly rate this one. The characters are all extremely unlikable, which isn't necessarily an issue, but they're also so fucking stupid. Max, played by Robert Hoffmann (an actor who frequently gets slammed for being bland, but he's perfectly fine here), gets caught after he leaves his trademark lucky dollar right beside one of his victims; Bulon is incompetent on any number of levels. As for Lisa-who's supposed to be a mysterious femme fatale figure-the only mystery here is how she can be so blithely reckless without getting herself killed. (That's not a spoiler; the film begins at its end [in the US cut at least] with Lisa at a funeral wearing the titular veil, and takes the form of an extended flashback.)
The film was made in the pre-Argento days, when The Sweet Body of Deborah had supplanted Mario Bava's early works as exerting the most influence on gialli. Unlike that film, and most gialli actually, the main male characters are of the what-you-see-is-what-you-get variety, with no real hidden agendas to provide intrigue and twists. There's a slight police procedural vibe too, without too much procedure actually being on display (there's no real need; the film-taking after its male characters-doesn't hold many cards close to its chest, so we know the murderer's identity, for example, almost immediately). And the policing-Christ, is John Mills's Bulon an annoying protagonist! His obsession with proving his wife's infidelity is such that you start hoping that he's right, just so all that time and energy won't have been misplaced. And, so you can watch his stupid grizzled face crumple with grief. The character is probably supposed to come across as obsessive and driven, but it's just pushed a bit too far, especially when he engages Max to kill his wife based on nothing more than a gut feeling that she's been fooling around. Where's the evidence, Mr Policeman?! And stop ignoring your co-workers when they greet you in the morning, you asshole!
There are a few twists and turns as the film progresses, but they're more like leisurely sweeping turns than sudden rug-pulls. As well as Lisa's potential infidelity, the question of whether or not she's involved in criminal activity is also bubbling to the surface, but the end reveal here is incredibly anodyne. I was hoping against hope that the criminal subplot would pack a greater punch than the fidelity one (which wouldn't be hard), but it's resolved in an extremely casual, throwaway manner, which pretty much sums up the film as a whole.
The sexual envelope is slightly pushed, with regular flash cuts to shots of female nudity (featuring an obvious body double for Luciana Paluzzi), and Paluzzi does look pretty damn good, but the film is still under-charged sexually. The scenes with Lisa and Max might have come across as a bit steamier if I wasn't shaking my head in bemusement at her naivete in admitting him to her house (and body),when it should've been patently obvious that he was a hired assassin. I guess Lisa's just a bad girl with a death wish, or something.
The US version frequently comes across as stilted, largely due to the wide variety of accents and acting styles, but there's also something lacking in the staging. And, there are many scenes that play out in near-silence, when some soundtrack accompaniment wouldn't go amiss. But you just have to witness Robert Hoffmann telling his bosses that he's "thanks, fine" to know that you should dial down your expectations a few notches. And, if you've read this, you'll hopefully dial them down even further. Don't dial Lisa's phone, though-she won't answer for No Reason Whatsoever.