Giallo

   Film genre. The Italian use of the term giallo for mystery or detective fiction derives from the distinctive yellow covers of the cheap paperback editions of translations of authors such as Edgar Wallace, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle, which began to be published in Italy in the late 1920s. As applied to films, however, the giallo is an extremely wide-ranging and permeable generic category that can include anything from the simple whodunit or police procedural to the psychological thriller and the horror and slasher film.
   Some historians have seen early antecedents of the modern giallo in a number of murder mystery and crime detection films produced in Italy in the interwar years, films such as Guido Brignone's Corte d'Assise (1930), Nunzio Malasomma's L'uomo dall'artiglio (The Man with the Claw, 1931), Mario Camerini's Giallo (1933), and Gentile Gentilomo's Cortocircuito (Short Circuit, 1943). In the immediate postwar period, films such as Pietro Germi's Il testimone (The Testimony, 1947) and Un maledetto imbroglio (The Facts of Murder, 1958) also appear to foreshadow some of the later developments of the genre. Nevertheless, the giallo proper is usually regarded as beginning with Mario Bava's La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Evil Eye, 1962), which laid down the narrative frame-work that would become one of the staples of the genre, namely, the story of an innocent eyewitness to a violent murder who takes on the role of amateur detective in order to track down the killer and, in the process, becomes one of the killer's main targets. Two years later, Bava's Sei donne per I'assassino (Blood and Black Lace, 1964) also established what would become the genre's most distinctive visual tropes: the killer's ubiquitous black leather gloves and trench coat, wide-brimmed hat and masked face, graphic and drawn-out killings staged as spectacular set pieces, the liberal use of knives and other slashing weapons, and a complicit subjective camera that places the spectator in the position of the killer.
   At first overshadowed by the more flourishing genres of the spaghetti Western and the horror film, the giallo began to gather real momentum in the late 1960s, emerging in a distinctly erotic version in films such as Umberto Lenzi's Orgasmo (Paranoia, 1969) and Cost dolce cost perversa (So Sweet. . . So Perverse, 1970), Romolo Guerrieri's Il dolce corpo di Deborah (The Sweet Body of Deborah, 1968), and Lucio Fulci's Una sull'altra (One on Top of the Other, 1969). The form received its greatest boost with Dario Argento's L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, 1969), which effectively modernized the genre by characterizing the killer's irrepressible impulse to murder as determined by an earlier, usually childhood, trauma. With his subsequent Il gatto a nove code (The Cat o' Nine Tails, 1971) and Quattro mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet, 1971), Argento confirmed his mastery of the genre, which then exploded frenetically over the next five years in a plethora of slasherfests that included Fulci's Una lucertola con la pelle di donna (A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, 1971) and Non si sevizia un paperino (Don't Torture a Duckling, 1972), Sergio Martino's Lo strano vizio della signora Wardh (Blade of the Ripper, 1971), Paolo Cavara's La tarantola dal ventre nero (Black Belly of the Tarantula, 1971), Aldo Lado's La corta notte delle bambole di vetro (Short Night of the Glass Dolls, 1972), Mario Caiano's L'occhio nel labirinto (The Eye in the Labyrinth, 1972), Giuliano Carnimeo's Perche quelle strane gocce di sangue sul corpo di Jennifer? (What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood Doing on Jennifer's Body? 1972), and Umberto Lenzi's Spasmo (The Death Dealer, 1974). While these films could vary in their (often improbable) stories and settings, they generally worked according to a recognizable formula and tended to employ a limited number of character actors such as George Hilton, Jean Sorel, Luigi Pistilli, Edwige Fenech, Carroll Baker, and Ivan Rassimonov, who thus came to be especially associated with the genre. Although critically dismissed as exploitative and misogynist, many of the films were also graced with effective and memorable musical scores by composers of the caliber of Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. In 1975 Argento took the giallo to new heights with Profondo rosso (Deep Red) before moving to the supernatural horror genre with Suspiria (Dario Argento's Suspiria, 1977). Veteran directors such as Luigi Comencini and Steno also took up the genre during this period, albeit in its more traditional form of the police investigation, and Francesco Rosi provided a political version of the giallo with his Cadaveri eccellenti (Illustrious Corpses, 1976). Nevertheless, by the late 1970s the giallo''s fortunes had clearly begun to wane, with many of the directors who had practiced it extensively moving to related genres like the police action thriller and the zombie-cannibal movie. At the same time, much of its taste for spectacular gore and violence was taken up by the budding American stalk-and-slasher film.
   The genre reappeared only sporadically over the next two decades, with Argento returning to it with his own Tenebre (Tenebrae, 1982) and Nonhosonno (Sleepless, 2001) and its sexy version making a reappearance in films such as Carlo Vanzina's Sotto il vestito niente (Nothing Underneath, 1985) and Lamberto Bava's Le foto di Gioia (Delirium, 1987). More recently the continuing popularity of the literary giallo has led to two acclaimed films, Alex Infascelli's Almost Blue (2000), adapted from Carlo Lucarelli's novel of the same name, and Eros Puglielli's Occhi di cristallo (Eyes of Crystal, 2004), from Luca di Fulvio's L'impagliatore (The Taxidermist).
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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  • Giallo — (pronounced IPA2| ʤallo, plural gialli ) is an Italian 20th century genre of literature and film, which in Italian indicates crime fiction and mystery. In the English language, however, it is used in a broader meaning that is closer to the French …   Wikipedia

  • giallo — [dal fr. ant. jaune, lat. galbĭnus, der. di galbus verde, giallo ]. ■ agg. 1. [di uno dei sette colori fondamentali, compreso tra l arancio e il verde: fiori g. ; una camicetta g. ] ▶◀ [di capigliatura] biondo. ‖ giallastro, gialliccio, (non… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • Giallo — (ital., spr. Dschallo), gelb, Giallo antīco, ein gelber, u. Verte antico, ein grüner Marmor, beide geschätzt wegen ihrer Schönheit, bes. aber, weil sie nirgends mehr gebrochen, sondern nur an Denkmälern alter Baukunst gefunden werden. Daher… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Giallo — (ital., spr. dschallo), gelb; G. di Napoli (Giallolina), Neapelgelb; G. di terra, ockergelb. G. antico. der gelbe, dichte, numidische Marmor, der sich häufig an Denkmälern der römischen Baukunst findet und jetzt wieder in Algier und Tunis,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Giallo — (ital., spr. dscha ), gelb. G. antīco, der gelbe, auch rot geäderte numidische Marmor, für altröm. Bauten verwendet; G. di Napŏli (G. lino), Neapelgelb …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Giallo — (ital. dsch–), blaßgelb; G. antico, der antike gelbe Marmor; G.rino, Gelberde, Neapelgelb …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Giallo —   [ dʒa ; italienisch »gelb«] der, (s), gelber, polierbarer Kalkstein (»Marmor«).   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • giallo — giàl·lo agg., s.m. FO 1. agg., di colore, simile a quello del limone o dell oro: maglietta, vernice gialla; fiore giallo; foglie gialle, appassite, secche 2. agg., estens., di colorito, malsano: aveva il viso giallo come un limone; è diventato… …   Dizionario italiano

  • Giallo — Le giallo est un genre de film d exploitation, principalement italien, à la frontière entre le cinéma policier, le cinéma d horreur, le fantastique et l érotisme qui a connu son heure de gloire dans les années 1960 à 1980. Les réalisateurs phares …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Giallo — Der Giallo (von ital. ‚gelb‘, Mehrzahl: gialli) ist ein spezifisches italienisches Subgenre des Thrillers, das von Mario Bava in den 1960ern begründet wurde und in den 1970ern seinen Höhepunkt hatte. Die Handlung dreht sich zumeist um die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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