The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
is Dario Argento
's debut as a film director, his first giallo
film and the first film in his "animal trilogy". It was released in the year 1970.
The plot follows American writer Sam Dalmas, who has been in Italy with his girlfriend Giulia for two years, trying to get around from a writer's block. Walking the streets one night, he witnesses a struggle between a woman and a man in black in a gallery. As he tries to intervene, he is locked between the gallery's glass doors and can only helplessly watch
the man run away as the woman is crumpled on the floor with a fatal wound on her stomach. He manages to get a passerby to call the police and the woman is saved in time. He finds out that there has been string of similar murders of women in the area, and begins doing some investigation of his own on the matter.
Examples in this film:
- Ambiguously Gay: The owner of the antique shop where the first victim worked.
- Ax-Crazy: Even though the Ranieri's are partners in crime, Monica is much crazier than her husband Alberto and her attack on him is what brings Sam into the mix.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Both Alberto and Monica Ranieri are killing people.
- Bound and Gagged: Giulia in the killer's hideout which Sam investigates near the end.
- Car Fu: Sam's police bodyguard is run over by two hired killers in a car.
- Clothing Damage: The killer slices open the fifth victim's nightgown before finishing her off.
- Disney Villain Death: Roberto's death.
- Disposable Sex Worker: The second murder victim was a prostitute named Rosita.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Monica, whose attack Sam witnessed behind the glass, is the main killer.
- Evil Laugh: Hearable when the killer starts playing with Sam in the climax.
- Eye Scream: Averted when Giulia tries to stab and misses the killer peeping through the hole on her door.
- Flashback Echo: Monica survived a brutal attack in her past and when she saw a painting portraying a man killing a woman, she snapped and started killing people, while making her husband a partner in crime.
- Harassing Phone Call: Two threatening phone calls are made, one for Sam and one for the police.
- Hollywood Silencer: Used by Needles the hired killer who are gunning for Sam.
- I Ate What?: Sam is horrified when he finds out that Consalvi keeps cats as a food source, and he just tasted some.
- Jitter Cam: Possibly the only Argento film that uses this. His later films have much steadier camerawork.
- Knife Nut: Most of hte murders are committed with a knife.
- Mad Artist: Consalvi. He paints stuff, and sustains himself with cats.
- Off with His Head!: The killer tries to chop Sam's head off, but misses because an old woman passing by warns him.
- Rear Window Witness: Sam is trapped between the glass doors when he witnesses the murder attempt on the girl.
- The Reveal: There are two killers, the Ranieris.
- Shirtless Scene: Provided twice by Sam.
- Verbal Tic: Rosita's pimp adds "goodbye" at the end off his sentences. He also stutters.