Viennale 2015 – Day 2: Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh)

Der Killer von WienLo strano vizio della Signora Wardh
I 1971
Written by Vittorio Caronia, Ernesto Gastaldi & Eduardo M. Brochero
Directed by Sergio Martino
Watched on 23.10.2015

“Der Killer von Wien”, as it is called over here, was one of my very first Gialli (after “Profondo Rosso” last year), and overall, I had a rather good time with it. I wouldn’t call it particularly suspenseful, and it definitely has a certain trashy charm and a couple of unintentional (?) funny moments, but overall, I felt quite entertained.

“Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh” starts off in typical Giallo-fashion. Meaning: two minutes in, you already get the first pair of boobs. And at the risk of spoiling the surprise for you: Be assured, they won’t be the last. The amount of gratuitous nudity is staggering, but as a man, it’s hard for me to complain too much about it (sometimes, you just have to let your inner, immature 13-year-old self out once again. [“Hey, look, boobs! Hehehe”, he said, in his best “Beavis & Butthead”-impression]). Since I’m living in Vienna myself, it was also really nice to get an impression of Vienna in the early 70s. Plus, I saw this in the german dubbed version, where the locals – cab drivers, policemen, receptionists etc. – all speak with a heavy Viennese accent, which was very funny to hear (usually you don’t get that with international productions), and which I also found quite charming (plus, in a weird way, it enhanced the movie’s authenticity for me). There also were many funny scenes and/or lines, like for example when Julie’s on the phone with George, talking to him, and then suddenly he stands in the doorway – and that in the pre-cellphone-age! How the hell did he manage that? The following exchange also was great: “How did you get here?” “Through the door.” (You don’t say?). Or how ’bout George’s reaction when the doctor tells him to call an ambulance? Instead of rushing off right away, he’s just standing there, dumbstruck, and asks “Is there still hope?”. Dude, just get the fuck going! And the extremely kitschy line “Time is the best healer” also had me in stitches. Granted, one might demur that most of that humor was unintentional, but I just had far too good of a time to care about that. Plus, say about the dialogues, the characters etc. what you want, but Sergio Martino’s direction was absolutely great, with the occasional dream sequences a particular standout. Even with the fucked-up 35mm-copy that I saw, I could appreciate his visual prowess. “The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh” also featured a galore of plot twists, and I definitely have to hold it in the movie’s favor that I didn’t see the final revelation(s) coming. My only complaints were the lack of any real tension, and the fact that I would have wished for a different (darker) outcome. “Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh” is probably not the best Giallo out there, but if you like the genre, you won’t go wrong with it.


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