Newlyweds Deborah and Marcel travel to his hometown of Geneva, ostensibly so she can get a sense of who her new husband is (should've done that BEFORE the wedding, love). They run into a past acquaintance of Marcel's who accuses him of being a murderer because his ex-girlfriend, traumatised at Marcel's having left her for America and Deborah, has committed suicide. The couple leave Geneva to continue their honeymoon, but find that they can't escape the past so easily, with threatening phone calls, and Marcel's old friend Philip, following them across the continent.
It's probably a bit harsh to say that this isn't any good at all, however, it's far from a top drawer giallo. As an example of the 'rich people double cross each other' subgenre (upon which I think I've bestowed a different descriptive title every single time I've referred to it), it's nowhere near as good as several of the later Lenzi imitators. And it's not necessarily even that trailblazing, given that it, as with all those films, owes a huge debt to Les Diaboliques. and the concept of a woman/couple being harassed by the sea had been done before (Ernie Gastaldi's Libido). However, this film does it all in colour-garish, garish colour-with the odd flash of nudity, which seemed to catch the attention of Umberto Lenzi and Ernie G (who, to be fair, wrote it) to influence their subsequent efforts.
So, this is an important film in as much as several other, better films may not have existed without it. But still, that doesn't make it any less of a slog to get through. There is, as stated, no black gloved killer, which is fine, but there simply isn't enough there to maintain interest for the still-brief 92 minute running time. The central conceit of a couple being pursued for a past 'crime' (which in this case isn't even a crime) isn't really fleshed out at all. You get a couple of phone calls (one of which is technically an impossible call, with the film never explaining how a phone line which has been out of use for a year was able to take a call*) and Luigi Pistilli's Philip lurks in the background a couple of times, showing off his skills in the 'vanishing from view while the main character rubs their eyes to make sure they're not hallucinating' area (top tip-if you're ever the 'viewer' in this situation, don't look away-keep a close eye on the intruder and place an immediate call to the authorities). But there's never a real sense of overpowering evil closing in on the couple-although, to be fair, this could be partly explained by the end twists, of which more anon.
The idea of a song motif being the source of a kind of Proustian recollection of memory-and guilt-for Marcel is neatly done, and would reappear in Deep Red, among other films. However, the film as a whole is curiously silent (at least, it is in the English version I watched), with long stretches which feel aurally dead, lacking the requisite foley sounds of clothes rustling and footsteps to create any believable facsimile of reality. These sequences just involve dialogue being exchanged over heavy silence, with even a climactic scene which involves Philip breaking into the sleeping couple's villa being played out with no score, which deadens the mood horribly. Nora Orlandi's soundtrack is decent (and very 60s), but it appears that either she didn't compose enough non-slinky lounge tunes, or the editor wasn't keen on using them.
There are a few extremely 60s nightclub sequences (going by gialli, what few black women there were in Europe in the 60s/70s must have almost all worked as strippers), and a game of twister that has to be seen to be believed. Although, by the time this sequence comes around you might well be ready to give up on the film, as it comes quite deep into the film, and the fact that the two main characters, and potential victims, are laughing and dancing around their garden without a care in the world kind of sums up the general lack of tension in the film as a whole.
Things do finally pick up with Philip's aforementioned home invasion and (SPOILERS) 'death'. Attentive viewers will have noted that for about ten minutes in the middle of film every time Marcel speaks it's to try and engineer an excuse to leave Deborah, which heavily suggests that he's not quite the catch he appeared to be. And it's true-he is, in fact, in league with Philip and his 'dead' ex as part of an inheritance scheme (the standard motivation in these films). This twist is even less surprising for modern viewers given that Marcel is played by Jean Sorel, which essentially means that the 'surprise' is that Jean Sorel is Jean Sorel. To be fair, contemporary audiences wouldn't have viewed the film armed with such knowledge, and it's hardly its fault that it was successful enough to spawn all those similar films with Sorel in near-identical roles.
There's (STILL SPOILERS) a second twist thrown in for good measure at the end-Deborah is apparently in cahoots with her extremely annoying neighbour George Hilton, and was orchestrating an inheritance scheme of her own which trumped that of Marcel. However, this is the very definition of a twist for twist's sake, and rivals the one at the end of The House on the Edge of the Park for implausibility-how did the unconscious Deborah know that she'd be abandoned by her 'killers' minutes before she bled out? If Hilton had been on site to intervene quicker it might be believable, although this would have ruined the second twist ending by placing it before the less surprising Sorel one. Still, on the other hand it wouldn't make No Sense What So Fucking Ever.
I don't want to be too down on the film, but it's just hard to be in any way 'up' about it. There are some semi-stylish sequences, and a few of those 'idiosyncratic', shall we say, moments that only exist in old-school Italian films-look out for the Big Lebowski-esque goons who threaten Marcel, the classy "I'm raping you" response Marcel gives when Deborah asks what he's doing when he literally sweeps her off her feet, and the very real reckless driving which sees several near-crashes with civilian drivers at a couple of points in the film. Look out for those, but don't be on the look out for a great film; nothing of that sort to see here.
*And staying with phone lines for a minute, what's with the 'police' phoning Deborah to make sure that she's kept the line open and not hung up on the threatening caller? Did they know that Hilton would sneak into the house and hang up the phone behind Deborah's back? No, course they facking didn't!