The Cat O’Nine Tails (Il gatto a nove code) identified as a Giallo film from Italy, with its themes of mystery and heightened thrillers that became popular through the 70s and 80s boasts the great Italian director Dario Argento.
Despite having some visual traits and symbolism throughout that still tie this movie to the giallo scene, Argento has cited the film as one of his least favoured among his credits.
These may seem like modest words but under closer scrutiny the film does struggle a little under the weight of its exposition and in doing so, can be hard to navigate through its narrative.
The story needs to have some twists and turns along the way to allow the mystery to bear fruit but the telling of that journey can feel laborious at times.
The main context of the tale centres on a mysterious break in of the Terzi Medical Institute where it appears that nothing was taken, and yet one of the doctors, Calabresi believes he knows the culprit, and when he attempts to blackmail the individual is then murdered when pushed before a train.
This opens up the investigation for an unlikely duo, reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus) and former hot shot reporter, the elderly, blind Franco “Cookie” Arno (Karl Malden) who still has a nose for a story. Between them, they identify nine possible leads that they could follow in order to identify the killer. The nine leads are the basis of the title Cat o’nine tails and along with it the mysterious journey to our conclusion begins and takes us through the local crypt and a thrilling conclusion on a rooftop. The tension of which is fueled by Franco’s blindness.
Despite the unfavourable comments of his own work, I found The Cat O’Nine Tails an entertaining one despite its complexity. I personally found the intricate narrative added to the mystery and allows the audience to traverse its murky case to a satisfying and thrilling conclusion. The hands of Argento manage to mould his visual style through the giallo lens and produce a worthy addition to the Italian celluloid movement that is well worth your time and satisfies on many levels.
- Saul Muerte