Massimo Dallamano, cinematographer of Sergio Leone’s first two westerns, moved on to directing, trying his hand at the fashionable genres of Italian commercial cinema. With his giallo “But what have you done to Solange? (1972), he adapted a thriller by Edgar Wallace, a favorite author of the German “krimis” directors of the 1950s and 60s, who inspired the Italians. Based on music very inspired by maestro Ennio Morricone – ranging from elegiac vocalization for romantic moments to pure and simple atonality during scenes of anguish – Dallamano concocts a “whodunit” with classic appearances which conceals a hell of turpitude à la “Twin Peaks” (frenzy and orgies of a group of Catholic high school girls) punished by sordid murders. This adapts quite cleverly to the mold of the giallo, with the obligatory irruption of the masked killer in black gloves, who murders the damsels with knives according to a new, particularly cruel modus operandi. In addition to the almost mediumistic revelation of the first crimes in the form of flashes, we are struck by the sobriety of Dallamano’s style, almost by his classicism, which stages the morbid in a way that is both elegant and very raw (on the erotic level). What’s more, this simple story of a serial killer investigated by a teacher who is in love with a high school girl, rebounds in the middle of the film, with the discovery of an unmentionable secret that binds some high school girls and explains the crimes (as well as the title). The process turns out to be more complex than initially expected, and deftly doubles the suspense. Dallamano illustrates here an almost clear line side of the giallo, at the antipodes of the flamboyant baroque options of Mario Bava, father of the genre. The film being set in London, one thinks in places of another Italian work which was also shot there, and was a prelude to this type of thriller, “Blow Up” by Antonioni (which in turn inspired a master of the giallo, Dario Argento). That said, in “But what did you do to Solange? “, the English urban decor has only a secondary place, just like the atmosphere and the fashions of the time – apart from an erotic photo session on a barge where one can precisely see a wink of look at ‘Blow Up’. Hence the almost timeless character of this work mixing sadism and voyeurism while avoiding the grotesque cheap.
“But what did you do to Solange?” by Massimo Dallamano. Italy/Germany, 1972, 1 h 41
DVDs, Neo Publishing editions