L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)

1970

L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)

Critics Consensus

Combining a deadly thriller plot with the stylized violence that would become his trademark, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage marked an impressive horror debut for Dario Argento.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 27

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,942
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L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage) Photos

Movie Info

This trend-setting thriller put its director, Dario Argento, on the international map and began a flood of imitative mystery-horror hybrids which dominated Italian genre output in the early 1970s. Tony Musante, best known for the television series Toma, portrays an American who witnesses the murder of a woman at a trendy Rome art gallery. Before long, Musante finds himself targeted by a mysterious killer. Based on a story by Byron Edgar Wallace, Bird and hints at the flamboyance which would become Argento's trademark. This and Argento's subsequent two films Il Gatto a Nove Code and Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio were much less horror-oriented than his later work. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

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Cast

Tony Musante
as Sam Dalmas
Eva Renzi
as Monica Ranieri
Mario Adorf
as Berto Consalvi
Dario Argento
as Black jacketed killer
Umberto Raho
as Ranieri
Pino Patti
as Faiena
Omar Bonaro
as Police Detective
Fulvio Mingozzi
as Police Detective
Bruno Erba
as Police Detective
Werner Peters
as Antique Dealer
Giovanni Di Benedetto
as Professor Renaldi
Reggie Nalder
as Yellow Slicker Assassin
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News & Interviews for L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)

Critic Reviews for L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (5)

  • It is as though The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is interrogating the different functions performed by graphic portrayals of murder (much like this film itself), and facing viewers with their own cathartic, and possibly dangerous, fears and desires.

    Feb 12, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Dario Argento's undistinguished Italian thriller was an unexpected hit in 1969, thanks largely, one suspects, to some violent scenes that were unusually graphic for their time.

    Mar 28, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Now king of the spaghetti slasher, Argento made his directorial debut with this tightly constructed thriller.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • [It] has the energy to support its elaborateness and the decency to display its devices with style. Something from each of its better models has stuck, and it is pleasant to rediscover old horrors in such handsome new décor.

    May 9, 2005 | Full Review…
  • Its scares are on a much more basic level than in, say, a thriller by Hitchcock. It works mostly by exploiting our fear of the dark.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Argento's scripting isn't always fluid, but he nevertheless manages to create a mystery that's genuinely compelling.

    Feb 19, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage)

  • Jul 01, 2012
    Argento's directorial debut is an enjoyable giallo with a few signs of the visual tricks he would develop of the next few years and a great score by Morricone. The initial attack is staged very well with Musante trapped between two glass doors and the final reveal is creepy and clever. The acting is pretty good too and there is none of the gore that Argento would become known for in films like 'Terror at the Opera' and 'Tenebrae'. Not Argento's best but a very good start.
    David S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 05, 2011
    Enjoyed this, yet another Argento film ive seen this year, again typical of him, and it run well.
    scott g Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2011
    8.7/10 "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" was the directorial debut of the great Dario Argento; a filmmaker from Italy who primarily enjoyed working in the horror and thriller genres. He didn't often branch out, but he was always willing. However, be it a drama, a comedy, or a darned action movie that he makes next; the man will always be known for the kinds of films that he made and made well. My personal favorite out of all Argento's features is "Deep Red". His acclaimed "Suspiria" would come in second. And as of now, I'm pretty sure that this film deserves third place. It's the film that put the director on the map as someone to watch; someone to care about. This is the film that helped re-launch the sub-genre of "Giallo Horror"; a little thing that started with masterpieces such as the early works of Mario Bava. Argento's film is just as good. "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" is all about plot and all about style. It works like a good deal of Argento's films work, although it doesn't quite go as "all-the-way" with surrealism as his later features would. He could only do so much with what he got, and I assume that wasn't much, at that. But when you've got "not much" and you're still able to make a great piece of cinema and a riveting work of art, then maybe money and production value doesn't matter so much anymore. Perhaps it's all in the ambition and skill of the filmmaker. Times have changed; for both the worst and for the best. Drawing heavily from the stylistic influences of Hitchcock's feature films, Argento's very own movie is very much interested in all of its elements. Much like the films of good old Hitchcock, it cares most about establishing a mood and creating an atmosphere in a number of different ways. Argento is like a more daring and bloodthirsty Hitchcock; sometimes, equally as good and skillfully at what he does. Argento has had his flops; but let's embrace those several successful films that he had before we criticize him as a man and as a filmmaker. This is one of his best. "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" has it all; images that stick with us long after the credits have begun to roll, solid performances from the entire cast, an engaging plot with many complex, deceptive but overall intriguing points, and a haunting musical score courtesy of the legendary Ennio Morricone, who does some rather impressive work here; not one of his best scores, or one of his most memorable, but a good one nonetheless. The story involves an artist in the form of a writer, a common character in the Argento films to follow, who one night walks the lonely streets of Italy (he's an American in a new sort of world, so it would seem) and finds himself the sole witness of a brutal murder attempt. The assailant escapes through a door within the building (a large sheet of glass window allows the character to see what's happening inside to begin with), while the lady who he was attacking survives thanks to the character's contribution and ability to communicate with someone on the outside, in spite of being locked in by the villainous being. You would think that the hero would be able to forget this unfortunate incident soon after and let the local authorities do their job in delving as deep as they can into this murder mystery, but instead, the writer gets far more involved than he originally intended or expected. He can't seem to shake the images of violence and pure cruelty that he saw that night. He starts hearing taunting voices and thinks himself mad; that is until the escapee continues his/her killing spree, promting the writer character to take immediate action. He feels guilty for not doing anything more than "his part" in the beginning of the case, and now that the plot has thickened, he has been given a chance. But will he catch the killer and prove victorious when it comes to impressing the police and pretty much everyone else around him? Will his obsession take him to dark places, and will it be a turn-off for his girlfriend? This is one of those rare, fascinating films where I find myself saying: you'll just have to find out for yourself. But maybe that's the case with every film, every thriller; even the ones I don't particularly like. Because you never know who's going to be entertained, inspired, or thrilled. Argento's craft comes in his ability to creep you the hell out, yet still provide a story where we care about the characters. This is seldom the case, even with some of his better features, but it's the case here; and that's all that really matters. "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage" intends on delivering a celluloid nightmare and that is what it gives us; a film that toys with our fears of the dark, the unknown, and all those things misunderstood and impossible to comprehend. The film may not appeal to absolutely everyone due to the fact that Italian horror requires a certain state-of-mind and perhaps even an acquired taste. However, I'm telling all those who can appreciate movies like this to see it as soon as possible; while those alienated amongst the Italian horror buffs should still consider giving it a go, even if it might not appeal to them instantly. I think it's an excellent, flawless Giallo thriller that evokes horror and fascination as its key emotions. It is violent, relentless for its time, and indeed, quite thrilling. But it's also well-told, well-made, and visually artistic. I kind of have to admire Argento's attention to detail in the film's prolific opening murder sequence; where we are given glimpses of large bird sculptures and walls that are white, white, white. Sights such as these are not easily forgotten, and that's what I love about the film. It's quite the ride; quite the achievement. One of the best directorial debuts, probably of all-time. And that's saying something, isn't it?
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 30, 2011
    Dario Argento's directorial debut is a stunning achievement in horror. The start of an excellent career is showcased on screen. What you have with Bird With The Crystal Plumage is a solid horror Giallo that is quite possibly Argento's most solid picture.Bird With The Crystal Plumage is a fine Giallo picture, probably the best of it's kind. Every Argento fan should seek this one out. What makes this film succeed is the eerie atmosphere than Argento paints added by Ennio Morricone ominous score. This is a classic of Italian horror, and I find it almost an insult that people try to compare this film to anyone of Hitchcock's films. Argento and Hitchcock are two different kinds of directs and both have made their mark in horror history. This is an intense horror film that brings genuine chills to the viewer and is by the films end, you are in awe at how powerful the horror is. Bird With The Crystal Plumage is one of the best Giallo films that I've seen, only matched by Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture A Duckling and Argento's own Deep Red. Bird With The Crystal Plumage is an accomplished horror film that is brilliantly directed by Argento. A must see for fans of horror, and this is one of the best films that Dario Argento has made. A unique film thats not easy to forget. The film is bold and tense, and relies on atmosphere to create effective terror. A classic worth seeing.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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