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Anchor Bay presents
Short Night of Glass Dolls (1971)

"Dead? I'm dead? It can't be! I'm alive. Can't you tell I'm alive?"
- Gregory (Jean Sorel)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 24, 2002

Stars: Ingrid Thulin, Jean Sorel, Mario Adorf
Other Stars: Barbara Bach, Fabian Sovagovic, Jose Quaglio, Piero Vida, Relja Basic, Daniele Dublino
Director: Aldo Lado

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexuality, violence)
Run Time: 01h:36m:45s
Release Date: June 25, 2002
UPC: 013131202793
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- BBB B

DVD Review

Anchor Bay has valiantly come to the call of fans of the long ignored "giallo" genre, that uniquely Italian school of filmmaking (which translates to "yellow") that is symbolized by early 1970s suspense thrillers that featured a wealth of sex, nudity and violence, as well as a typically startling climax. With four wonderfully remastered titles available either individually or as part of the four-disc Giallo Collection, Anchor Bay is giving not only genre buffs, but film fans in general, the chance to see some of these uniquely structured films.

Aldo Lado's 1971 giallo thriller Short Night of Glass Dolls is the story of Gregory (Jean Sorel), a reporter who is found dead in a Prague park. Sorel, looking like a cross between Brad Pitt and Robert Goulet, sports an odd looking 1970s hairstyle, but that isn't his real problem. The trouble is that though Gregory appears to be quite dead, his brain is very much alive and we can hear his frantic thoughts as he is taken to the hospital, and ultimately to the morgue. He wonders to himself, "Is this what it's like for everyone?" and the viewer is left with the same unanswerable question: is this in fact what death is like?

In what sort of plays like a macabre Kafkaesque twist on the traditional detective story in reverse, not unlike Memento in part, Gregory has to piece together what has happened to him, all from within the restricted confines of the morgue freezer; via flashbacks, we are introduced to Gregory's world as he recalls the events that led up to his apparent death. His sexy girlfriend Mira (Barbara Bach) has vanished without a trace, and Gregory, along with his reporter pal Jack (Mario Adorf), work to uncover the secret of a mysterious group of Prague's wealthy elite who operate inside the mysterious Klub 99.

Lado lands a great camp performance out of Jose Quaglio as the pale-skinned Valinski, the slightly effeminate director of Klub 99. Quaglio also appeared in Lado's Who Saw Her Die?, and his turn here, complete with a syrupy Lugosi-like accent, is a genre winner. Unlike a lot of giallo titles, the question of who is or isn't evil is never really in question much here; with the story told in flashbacks, it is more a matter of how, as opposed to who.

Odd visual moments abound in Short Night of Glass Dolls, and Lado has populated his film with a number of truly unique looking extras, most of which appear in the Klub 99 sequences. There is a string recital scene early on, and Lado does a couple of slow pans across the stoic faces of this amazingly morose group of unusual looking people of assorted shapes and sizes. It is a surreal moment, and one that reaches even weirder levels later in the film. Here's some advice: if you don't appreciate seeing a bunch of sixty and seventy-year-olds involved in a sprawling nude orgy, then I suggest you keep the remote handy during this one.

True to the genre, Lado keeps the mood very dark and he even offers up a teaser that I was sure would figure prominently in the ending (it concerns a tomato that feels pain), but I was wrong. Short Night of Glass Dolls does not move along completely predictable lines at all times, and I like that in a film.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Not as singularly impressive as Anchor Bay's work on Lado's other giallo title, Who Saw Her Die?, but this 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is really nothing to complain about. Colors are a little faded, not surprising for a 1971 B-movie, but do remain consistent for the duration. Shadow delineation is a bit on the murky side for a few night shots, though the foggy trainyard sequence looks better than most of the darkly lit scenes. Some shimmer is evident on a few shots featuring tiled rooftops, but there isn't much else in the way of compression artifacts. There is a slight jump during a restaurant scene with Sorel and Bach early on, but that seemed to be the extent of any major source print flaws.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: A serviceable Dolby Digital mono track, featuring the film's relatively good English dub. Voices have a bit more depth than most dubs offer, and with the exception of newspaper reporter Jack, who sports a weird Irish-tinged accent that seems out of place. Hiss or crackle is not evident, and the dialogue is always discernible.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Like the other titles in Anchor Bay's Giallo Collection, this disc features a far too brief interview with the director as the primary extra. Entitled Strange Days of the Short Night (11m:30s), director Aldo Lado provides some background on some real-life parallels that inspired the story of a man "buried alive" by the establishment. He offers brief comments on the selection of Jean Sorel to play Gregory, but the gem of the piece is his explanation of how the film came to be known by its unusual title. This particular interview was done at the same as the one that appears on Who Saw Her Die?, and is in Italian with English subtitles.

The film is split into 25 chapters, and the disc contains a Lado filmography. A thick insert card adorned with the original Italian artwork under the title La Corta notte delle bambole di vetro is also included.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Aldo Lado's directorial debut is a seldom seen example of giallo-style filmmaking that was prominent in Italy in the late 1960s through the early '70s. Much like his follow up Who Saw Her Die?, Short Night of Glass Dolls immediately establishes an engaging premise, but suffers through a moderately convoluted midsection. Lado, however, redeems himself with a genre-worthy climax that is properly downbeat.

Recommended.

 


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