La Vittima Designata
Murder by Design
The Designated Victim is an intriguing Italian curiosity from 1971. Its position within popular Italian cinematic cycles of the 1970’s is highly contestable. A lazy scholar would simply just classify it as a giallo and move on, but its resemblance to that cycle is somewhat superficial. It lacks plot convolution and multiple red herrings, it does not have a narrative driven by deduction and detection, and does not have set piece moments of exaggerated stylisation. However what it does have is the look of a giallo. The film is largely set in the more salubrious reaches of Milan and Venice, and its characters hail from the arts and the aristocracy. This is an expertly realised world of bored and wealthy noblemen, and the machinations and artifice of the world of advertising and photography. We are without a doubt in the culture of the giallo, but structurally The Designated Victim plays out more as a straight thriller, and at times actually looks forward to the Poliziotteschi films that would become increasingly popular. In this case the hybridity of the film and its successful plundering of Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock works in its favour. However what really makes the film a standout is the sparks that fly between Tomas Milian and Pierre Clémenti.
Katia Christine as the rather gorgeous Fabienne
Pierre Clémenti as the decadent Count Tiepolo
Tomas Milian as the disillusioned Stefano Argenti
© Shaun Anderson 2011