Yes, the man who would be Italy’s Hitchcock decided to throw in a few jokes this time around…with some pretty disastrous results. Take for example the goofy spectacled mailman that can’t get an address right; the inclusion of Trinity star Terrence Hill’s frequent co-star Bud Spencer as Godfrey (aka “God”) and his vagabond partner (voice actor Oreste Lionello, as The Professor); and, probably most offensive of all, Jean-Pierre Marielle as the over-the-top flamboyantly gay detective hired to find the blackmailer/killer (Marielle reportedly added the stereotypical touch to his character personally).
Okay, so the jokes fail — but what really puts the hurt on for this feature (aside from the occasionally boring moment) is Michael Brandon’s rather bland performance. He does rather well as Roberto Tobias, but Brandon is nothing but a television actor at best (yes, that was a subtle Arrested Development joke — see Brandon's character’s name again if you find yourself stuck on that one, kiddies).
Fortunately, no matter how much of a letdown the movie may be (for whatever reasons), there are still plenty of moments that will appeal to Argento-philes, such as the imaginative photography, editing, and (of course), Dario’s well-tuned ability to create a stylishly gruesome murder onscreen. The music by Ennio Morricone has a nice theme, but I find most of his score to be rather powerless — a feeling Argento reportedly had as well, as there were some of those fabled "creative differences" between the two icons that would result in this being Ennio’s third and final score for Argento until that god-awful Stendhal Syndrome flick in ‘96 (which was followed by the equally tepid Phantom Of The Opera two years later).
Generally, when a new company emerges, chills go up my spine: “Suppose these guys are just as cheap as Brentwood Entertainment!” I scream to myself. But I have to say that MYA Communications will definitely earn themselves a spot on the maps of Italio-film fanatics everywhere with their presentation of Four Flies On Grey Velvet. The 2.35:1 widescreen transfer of this giallo has been taking from the original Italian negative (a plus) and is given the full anamorphic treatment with this release, sporting some very rich colors and very few signs of debris. The darker scenes contain a bit of grain here and there, but on the whole, the appearance of this movie is superb.
Special note: when Four Flies On Grey Velvet was first distributed to American cinemas, about a minute-and-a-half from the climactic “revelation scene” was snipped. Thankfully, this DVD issue reinstates the missing footage but, since it was never dubbed into English to being with, these moments are in Italian with optional English Subtitles (which are set to “on” by default).