Carrol Baker and George Hilton are two names often associated with the giallo – one an American actress doing what many actresses did when work in the US dried up - seeking sun, solace and dollars in Italy. The other an actor from Uruguay, posing here, as he often did, as a suave English playboy. Reunited again in this borderline giallo, that just about makes up for its lack of black gloved mayhem with early 70s style and minor intrigue.
Like many gialli, the jet-set nature of the genre meant that they often took place outside of the motherland. Here, it is the canals and cobbled streets of Amsterdam that attempt to give THE DEVIL WITH SEVEN FACES its colour. Baker plays Julie – who works some undisclosed job at Air India (presumably a little product placing, although the ubiquitous J&B whiskey is nowhere to be seen) in the Dutch city. She is being plagued with unwanted attention, and after one dinner party is chased by an unseen assailant through the streets whilst wearing what looks like some kind of see-through blue bin bag. Rather than killing her, as you might reasonably expect for her crimes against fashion, a flash bulb of a camera goes off sending Julie slumping melodramatically to the floor.
Perplexed by this intrusion into her privacy, Julie visits a lawyer friend, Dave Barton (Stephen Boyd). Seemingly coincidentally, Barton is also being visited by an old school friend, Tony (Hilton). Julie tells the pair that someone is spying on her, and as if to prove the point she is manhandled outside the offices by some men who try and bundle her into a car. Barton and Tony come to her rescue and after a minor duffing up the would-be kidnappers scarper.
Just in case they weren't taking her seriously already, Julie suffers a break-in at her home whilst the two men are with her, contemplating the best course of action. Perhaps surprisingly, they decided it is to leave her on her own. She insists she has to stay in case her twin sister Mary calls.
In the next few days, Julie starts up a relationship with Tony. He is a race car driver, and she coos appropriately when he tears around the track. Eventually, the new couple decide dropping from view might be the best course of action after they narrowly escape being murdered by intruders at Julie's home.
Meanwhile, Barton decides to become the amateur sleuth. His interest piqued by Julie's secretary (in a shocking ginger wig), who observes that Julie didn't seem to recognise the office when she last returned from seeing her twin sister in London (yes, this one isn't too hard to figure out). The plot thickens, especially when it comes to light that various parties are in hot pursuit of a stolen diamond worth a cool million dollars ...
THE DEVIL WITH SEVEN FACES barely qualifies as a giallo. Whilst there are plenty of plot twists and double-crosses, these are more in keeping with the spy thrillers and European capers popular in the 1960s. However, director Civirani does pay some lip service to the giallo with the introduction of the dead body hidden in the attic of the house that Tony and Julie hide away in – although it appears to serve no purpose other than to have a dead body turn up. There is also a short parody of the conventions of the giallo when an unseen assailant unsheaths a large knife and briefly stalks Julie in her office. It turns out to be a Japanese businessman in a gorilla mask (!), who attempts to justify his intrusion by telling a not very amused Julie that, “I'm an authority on horror stories!”. It's almost up there with the attack on Lynda Day-George in PIECES (1981) by the kung-fu professor who blames bad chop-suey for his violent outburst. The film's climax in and around a remote windmill at least briefly satisfies the woman-in-peril cat and mouse theatrics that top-ended many gialli.
Unfortunately, Baker seems to be sleepwalking through her role here, and turned in much more spirited performances in other gialli. Thankfully, her outfits enliven the film somewhat, especially a bizarre bright blue hat/wig hybrid that she sports on the beach that makes her look like her next project would be a Smurf movie. Hilton, again, has been more effective in other gialli. Here he's more-or-less reprising his role from Sergio Martino's seminal giallo, THE STRANGE CASE OF MRS WARDH (also 1971). The archetypical handsome 70s leading man, his smouldering good looks at least give the film some male eye candy as you ponder if he's a goody or a baddy. He also provides the cheerfully antiquated sexism throughout the film; pondering that it would be unlikely that Julie would be involved in a jewel heist, observing that, “... wouldn't that be rather a big job for a woman?”.
THE DEVIL WITH SEVEN FACES (and, no, the title doesn't bear any resemblance to the plot) is at least blessed with a lovely Stelvio Cipriani score. If you don't expect much in the way of traditional giallo thrills then there's some 70s charm, a few passages of effective suspense and madcap caper to enjoy, but overall it's a curiously hollow experience.
female:1 / male:8
1) Male shot dead
2) Male shot dead
3) Female found dead
4) Male shot dead
5) Male shot dead
6) Male shot dead
7) Male stabbed in the back
8) Male shot dead
9) Male run over with tractor