Movie Review: Suspicious Death of a Minor

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Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975)
Directed by Sergio Martino
Starring Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Lia Tanzi, Barbara Magnolfi, Gianfranco Barra, Patrizia Castaldi, Adolfo Caruso, Roberto Posses

There were a few things that got my attention right away when this disc came in the mail. First and foremost, it is directed by Sergio Martino, who has made more than a few films that I have really enjoyed over the years. I mean, let’s face it…the man is a god when it comes to the giallo! Secondly, it would be the first of five times that Claudio Cassinelli would appear in one of Martino’s films, before dying in a tragic helicopter accident. My first introduction to Cassinelli’s work was in Martino’s Island of the Fishmen (1979), co-starring Richard Johnson and Barbara Bach. He always seemed to have fun playing the good guy and did it well. So he’s always a welcome site for me when he appears on screen.

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Here in Morte sospetta di una minorenne (original Italian title), he plays a cop, but one that doesn’t exactly play by the rules, which is where he develops most of his charisma when we’re not sure at first if he’s being chase by the cops or leading them! He is on the trail of the one responsible for the death of a young girl who is brutally murdered. With the help a petty thief who he convinces to help, he starts down the long path to get to the top guy behind the murder.

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One thing that sets the film apart is the wide range of sub-genres intertwined here. While it starts out as a standard giallo, there are some comedic bits thrown in there, even a few slapstick moments, that really changes the mood of the story. Plus, Cassinelli’s easy-going demeanor also tends to lighten the mood. But just when you’re getting settled into a light comedy, Martino turns up the heat with a bang!

While the mystery isn’t that mysterious within the storyline, there are still a few plot twists and turns that will keep you interested. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical giallo sub-genre that is generally played straight and serious. I’m not sure if I would have been as interested as I was had it not been for Cassinelli. Oh…did I mention that Barbara Magnolfi of Suspiria fame has a small but revealing part in the film?

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Arrow has done giallo fans proud once again with this brilliant release. The print looks wonderful and the extras are enough to appease even the slightest giallo fan! While I will admit that Troy Howarth is a friend of mine,  I tell you the man knows his Italian movie history! He provides commentary on this disc and once again fills the time with some great stories and information about the film itself and the people behind it. There are also new interviews with director Martino and cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando here. I can’t tell you how important I think it is that these little bits of interviews are so important to document information and stories directly from the ones who worked on the film. Years from now when they are gone, these little bits will be historical records, so kudos to Arrow for helping preserve little moments like this.

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