Fifth Cord, The (DVD)

Starring Franco Nero, Silvia Monti, Wolfgang Preiss, Ira von Fürstenberg

Directed by Luigi Bazzoni

Distributed by Blue Underground

When reading the back of the DVD case for The Fifth Cord, I can see how one could easily become intrigued by the promise of kinky sex, shocking violence, stunning cinematography, and a classic score. Well, one and a half out of four may do it for some viewers, but not this one. When you sit down ready to settle into a giallo film, you are most likely expecting far more than what The Fifth Cord has to offer its audience. I found it hard to actually even consider this film to be giallo, and after some serious thought I came to the conclusion that it is one of the weakest contributions to the subgenre that I have ever seen.

The Fifth Cord is the tale of a reporter (Franco Nero) who, in the process of trying to cover a story, finds himself high on the list of individuals suspected of committing the series of murders he is investigating. He is consequently then taken off the story and becomes obsessed with finding the truth. In his efforts to find the true culprit, our reporter must face his own personal demons and his past. As he nears the truth, the reporter realizes that not only is he under the scrutiny of the police but he is also now in the sights of the killer he is trying to catch.

From beginning to end this film winds its way through 93 minutes of jumbled scenes that are supposed to somehow make total sense in the end. If you were to take the time to sort through the unnecessary gibberish in the plot, you might actually come out with a respectable movie. While it tries to be a giallo film, it comes across more as a sorry attempt at a bad Argento film. The storyline had a lot of potential; it’s always sad to see a promising idea get lost in a poor translation.

While it certainly has the right to boast about fantastic cinematography, the rest of the film leaves quite a lot to be desired. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematic artistry is virtually the only redeeming quality The Fifth Cord has to offer. I found myself losing interest in the actual story and at the same time being drawn in by the magnificent camera work and visuals. Certain scenes were approached with bold colors and sharp angles while others were amazing in their own subtlety. If there was one thing that kept my interest in this film, it was definitely the cinematography.

The score itself is decent but certainly not memorable by any stretch. Some of the visual editing was flawed enough to be noticeable. And as for the promise of kinky sex and shocking violence…sorry, no cigar! Not even close actually. I’ve seen hotter sex scenes on daytime soap operas! For an Italian film to claim it contains “kinky sex” and then serve its eager audience the prepubescent fondling in this film is plain meaningless. The violence — or lack thereof — is even more ludicrous. One would expect, or at least I did, that a giallo film is going to offer a fair amount of blood, violence, and possibly even shock value. Not so with The Fifth Cord. The viewer is instead forced to sit through great lengths of tedium, disguised as storyline, between each kill only to be disappointed by the glaringly deficient bloodshed. I realize that story is important, but in this case it makes you feel more like you are watching a bad made-for-TV thriller than a true Italian giallo film.

The Blue Underground DVD release of The Fifth Cord is a bare bones single-disc presentation. It has the unrated widescreen version of the film, a trailer that is just as long, odd, and nonsensical as the film is, and a brief interview with the leading man, Franco Nero, and cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro. Giornato Nera (Black Days) is the title of the sixteen-minute interview session, which is somewhat interesting compared to the film itself.

This subpar release is somehow fitting for such a mundane film, but given the source I am sure it could have been worse. I may not be a huge fan of Italian giallo films, but I can appreciate them when they deserve it. Unfortunately The Fifth Cord fell desperately short of the mark for me.

Special Features
Giornata Nera (Black Days) – Interviews with Franco Nero and Vittorio Storaro
Theatrical trailer

1 ½ out of 5

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Jon Condit

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