Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (Luciano Ercoli, 1970)

You're an attractive redhead who's addicted to tranquilizers and has a bit of a drinking problem... You're joking, right? "A bit of a drinking problem"?!? Okay, she's got a lot of a drinking problem. And you [the attractive redhead] think you have just hit the jackpot when you decide to marry a guy who owns a company that manufactures scuba diving equipment. Well, think again, red. He didn't marry you for the shapely stems that jut out from the bottom half of your equally shapely torso. Come again? Her legs. He didn't marry her just for her legs. Why didn't you just say that in the first place? Eat my ass. It couldn't have anything to do with money, as he owns his business. Yeah, but, you'll notice that I didn't say, "successful business." Five out of ten scuba gear companies fail within the first six months of operation. Did they marry each other for love? Don't be naïve. No one married for love back in 1970. I'm confused, so who's conning who here? I don't know, but as I was watching the exceedingly Italian The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, I began to wonder: does it really matter? Even though it bears several of the markings of your typical giallo, you won't find much as far as grisly murders go. In fact, I don't think anyone is stabbed in this film, unless you of course count the pulsating pussy attached to...You know what? I'm not going to finish that thought. C'mon, why not? I don't know, I'm tired of being rude, lewd, and lascivious. Okay, stop pulling my leg, I'll finish my thought. Firstly, I was nowhere near your leg. And secondly, your use of the expression, "pulling my leg," was not apt at all. Do you want me to finish my thought or not? Go ahead. In fact, I don't think anyone is stabbed in this film, unless of course you define the act of allowing a pulsating pussy to be penetrated by an erect penis as being "stabbed."

Has the groaning subsided yet? It hasn't? Dang, tough crowd. I'll wait a couple of more seconds then. In the meantime, feast your eyes on Dagmar Lassander as she soaks her dainty nooks and her sophisticated Euro-crannies in the tub in the film's opening scene.

The worst offense you'll see in this film, directed by Luciano Erocoli, besides some questionable fashion choices, is blackmail. However, on the plus side, the photos used in the film's primary blackmailing scheme are pornographic in nature.

Just kidding, by the way, about the questionable fashion choices, 'cause from where I was sitting–and, if memory serves me correctly, I was sitting pretty freaking close–there isn't a single fashion faux pas to be found in this motion picture.

Despite her determination to stop smoking, to stop drinking, and to stop taking tranquilizers, Minou (Dagmar Lassander) reneges on all three before her lavish mane of red hair has even had time to dry; she was taking a bath when she made a promise to herself to quit those particular vices. Hold on, her hair wasn't wet. Who said anything about the hair on her head? Zing! Actually, I don't think the tufts of pubic hair that surround her pinkish yet not even close to being mawkish vagina match the hair that sits atop her pretty little head. Follicle symmetry aside, Minou has Drink #1 immediately after getting dressed; tranq #1 is taken shortly after she has a drink, but I'm going to focus my attention mostly on her chronic alcoholism.

Don't focus too much, though. Why is that? You failed to mention any details when it came to Minou getting dressed. You're right, I didn't. Let's rectify that, shall we? Hopping out of the tub to the lounge-tastic strains of Ennio Morricone's "Dell'Orso," Minou puts on a robe and paints her toenails on her bed. As she combs her hair in the mirror, Minou wonders to herself if the pink mini-dress she is wearing is too conservative. With a pair of white pantyhose already pressing tightly against everything below her pristine undercarriage, Minou finishes off her ensemble by sliding on a pair of almost knee-high black boots.

I think most of you will agree, judging by her fierceness, that Minou is ready to be harassed by "The Blackmailer" (Simón Andreu), a shady sex fiend with dark hair who vexes the fashion-forward redhead throughout this stylish motion picture. And what better place to be harassed/vexed than a dark alleyway. Holding a switchblade (one with an extra long handle) to her throat, The Blackmailer, whose real name is never uttered, informs Minou that her beloved husband, the equally dark-haired Peter (Pier Paolo Capponi), is a murderer. Leaving her to absorb/contemplate this little nugget of juicy gossip, The Blackmailer drives off on his motorcycle.

Wandering in a "I wasn't just killed by a dark-haired sex fiend, but told instead that my dark-haired husband is a murderer" haze, Minou takes refuge in a nearby tavern, and orders to two small brandies. Since she ordered two drinks, does that mean Minou has two drinks? Huh? I'm keeping track of Minou's alcohol intake, and would like to know how to label each drink she has. You know what? I'm going to count the two small brandies as Drink #2. After all, she drinks them both in quick succession.

After being picked up by husband, much to the chagrin of two Carlsberg-drinking barflies, Minou is back at home with Drink #3 in her hand. Reassured that Peter wouldn't love any less because of some sex fiend, Minou puts on a blonde afro wig and heads out to a local nightclub. Sipping on Drink #4 in one of the club's booths, Minou, despite the raucous nightclub atmosphere, still looks somewhat preoccupied. If anyone can cheer Minou up, it's her best friend, the fabulous with a capital 'F' Dominique (Nieves Navarro), a chic force of nature whose arrival causes the less chic to crumble the moment they lay their not as chic eyes on her.

While taking another bath, in, get this, a different bathtub all together (the scuba gear racket has done all right by them), Minou notices that her pet turtle (oh, let's call him, Tik Tok) has inadvertently pushed one of her pink slippers underneath the shower curtain. The only reason I'm mentioning Tik Tok is because he or she actually play an important role later on in the film, and the slipper pushing incident is merely included to remind us that Tik Tok has a tendency to shove things around.

Having a drink, make that, "Drink #5," with Dominique at an outdoor cafe, Minou tells her exceedingly chichi friend all about the incident with The Blackmailer. Instead expressing sympathy, Dominique seems jealous. She even says, "I would have adored being violated," at one point. Since the table is obscuring the view of Minou's black pantyhose adorned legs, the action moves to Dominique's swanky pad, where the two friends drink booze (Drink #6) and look at pornographic photos. You gotta love a movie that features two leggy gal pals lounging in a leggy manner while looking at so-called "dirty pictures" that may or may not boast leggy models.

Just in case some of us weren't satisfied by the quality of the leggy lounging in the previous scene, Minou's pantyhose adorned legs are the focal point of the next one.

Remember when The Blackmailer told Minou that her that husband is a murderer? Well, it would seem that Minou is starting believe what The Blackmailer said was true. Growing increasingly suspicious, Minou thinks her husband might have been responsible for the death of a local businessman, one that, get this, her husband owed money to.

When The Blackmailer calls Minou in the middle of the night, she decides to have Drink #7. I wish I could tell you what kind of beverage she has every time she pours herself a drink (I'm not good at spotting booze). However, I'm guessing she's a J+B scotch whiskey kind of gal. Don't ask me why, it's just a hunch.

It's only a matter of time before Minou and The Blackmailer meet again, and they do so at his menacingly decorated apartment. Did anyone else notice that The Blackmailer didn't offer Minou a drink? I know, how rude.

Thankfully, she has plenty to drink at home. Only problem is, her husband nearly catches her in a lie. "Nearly" because a quick-thinking Dominique steps in to save the day. To celebrate a successful save, Minou enjoys Drink #8; which helps her wash down tranq #3.

Made at a time when love was a fraud, drinking was mandatory, drug abuse was tolerated, and fashion was dangerous, The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion might seem like a stylish morality tale about a wide-eyed redhead struggling to survive in a world filled with dark-haired sex fiends. In actuality, it's just an excuse for the director to film his girlfriend, Nieves Navarro, in various outre outfits.

Actually, the film is pretty suspenseful in places, and Dagmar Lassander gives an excellent performance as an alcoholic trendsetter who grows increasingly frazzled as the film progresses. That being said, there is some truth to what I said about Nieves Navarro, as she looks amazing in this film.

My favourite Nieves Navarro looks in this film were the black all-slit number she wears when Dominique tries to comfort Minou during a crisis (Drink #9) and the black trench coat shes dons during the action-packed climax. If you're wondering what "all-slit" means. It's when a garment has an unending slit down the side. And in the case of Dominique's slit-heavy getup, it has two unending slits on each side.

Oh, and for those keeping track at home, Minou consumes a total of 10 alcoholic beverages in this movie (the tenth one is served just before the action-packed finale). Cheers.


  1. I sure love titles like this! What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer's Body?; Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key; The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence; Titles like these are hilarious to me!

  2. I'm a fan of What Have You Done to Solange? and Don't Torture a Duckling, myself.

  3. A great film, for sure! Oodles of style, as with pretty much every Ercoli film I have seen. Just waiting for someone (MYA perhaps) to release Lucrezia giovane!

    As for Forbidden Photos Dagmar was so hot in this! It is long overdue for me to revisit this little gem.

  4. I can't believe "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key" is a real title.

    Adding Don't Torture a Duckling to my list.

    Might as well add The Perfume of the Lady in Black and The Black Belly of the Tarantula as well.

    I have another Ercoli/Susan Scott joint to post this week.

  5. "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key" is so up your alley I'm surprised you haven't seen it. It's also my favorite giallo ever. Really sexy, really fucked up.