The 1967 Italian comedy/would-be thriller Kill Me Quick, I'm Cold is about con artists played by Monica Vitti and Jean Sorel (who also both appear in the recent Sony MOD DVD release, Bambole, although they share no scenes in that one). At the start of the film, Vitti and Sorel meet at a resort and try to con each other, before they realize they are both in the same business. Having someone with which they can finally relate, they fall passionately in love and decide to work as a team. Pretending to be brother and sister, they roam a cruise ship looking for easy marks. They romance rich couples and then hit up both the husband and the wife for money. Director Francesco Maselli replays the same scenes word for word back-to-back, with different victims falling for the exact same ploys. While the actors seem to be having a lot of fun, it actually gets a bit tiresome.
The film picks up significantly once they've made their score, and they start bumming around Europe. After a good-times montage on a speedboat set to a Hollies song, Vitti remembers that she needs to bail her mother out of a hotel debt, which turns out to be a MacGuffin with no payoff that merely facilitates getting our wacky twosome embroiled in the strange goings-on at the hotel. Briefly, Vitti and Sorel become a swinging '60s variation on Nick and Nora, as they investigate the claims of a woman (Daniela Surina) who says her brother (Roberto Bisacco, who played Paris in Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet) is trying to murder her. However, when they learn that the woman is bound to inherit nearly a billion lira, they decide to con and then murder her instead.
This is where the movie kind of falls apart. Vitti and Sorel's characters come off as fun-loving free spirits who are criminals because they are naturally good at it. The premise that they could suddenly decide to pull off a murder, even for a billion lira, feels awkwardly incongruous. Add to this the nagging feeling that Surina and Bisacco's characters are probably pulling off some kind of con of their own (**SPOILER** they are **END SPOILER**), and the whole thing just feels like a wrongheaded plot forced upon some otherwise charming characters.
Vitti and Sorel shine above the material at every turn. The late-film scene in which the phrase from the title is spoken is a surprisingly touching exchange where Vitti waxes nostalgic to Sorel about the early, murder-plot-free days of their relationship. Nothing in the story justifies how resonant this scene turns out; it's purely the talent of the actors.
By the time the last predictable plot twist has twisted -- and the soundtrack has reprised The Hollies' title song for the 17 millionth time -- Kill Me Quick struggles to regain the frothy energy of its earlier scenes... but it's too little too late.
Kill Me Quick, I'm Cold comes to us via Sony's Choice Collection of manufactured-on-demand DVD-Rs. Although the movie looks and sounds pretty good (see below), they didn't make much effort with the presentation otherwise. The images on the front and back are just random screencaps (the back photo being a semi-spoiler to boot) and there are no disc menus or special features. Unless (to paraphrase my joke from the Bambole review) you consider it a special feature that the movie automatically restarts when it reaches the end.
Considering the age of the movie, this is a very solid transfer. The 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen image suffers from artifacting and noise, but it's only really noticeable if you're looking for it. I bet on a standard-def TV or laptop screen, it would be fairly hard to spot. The colors are vibrant and there's a good amount of fine detail overall. There are occasional specks and print damage, but only during the titles, some shots that must have been stock footage, and some unintentionally hilarious blue-screen shots.
The film is presented in dubbed English mono audio, with no alternate language tracks and no subtitles. Overall, the sound is quite good, although during non-speaking moments there is often a noticeable hiss. I wasn't that bothered by it when I listened to it on speakers, but when I revisited scenes from the movie listening with headphones, the hiss was inescapable. Otherwise, the dialogue and the four or five constantly replayed soundtrack songs sound perfectly intelligible and clear.
Maybe recent con artist movies, like Soderbergh's Ocean's 11, have spoiled me into believing that you can pull off a flick like this with charming characters and a clever story and a final twist you didn't see coming. Whether or not that's true, Kill Me Quick seems to be operating under the theory that "one out of three ain't bad." That said, the movie isn't aggressively annoying or dull. You could do worse. Rent It.
Justin Remer is a filmmaker, oddball musician, and frequent wearer of beards. Check out his random movie thoughts on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bottomofqueue