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One of the countless films inspired, officially or unofficially, by Richard Connell's 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game," Petri's black comedy imagines the hunting of humans as a government-sanctioned, globally televised sport, a gladiatorial combat meant to relieve tension and settle conflicts in an otherwise anesthetized world devoted to mindless consumption. Contestants in the Big Hunt are chosen by a punch-card-shuffling computer in Geneva, which matches pairs of strangers (always a man and a woman, just to make things more interesting) and sends them out to kill each other. Whoever survives to make 10 kills receives a $1 million prize and the right to live to enjoy it. Having claimed her ninth victim, the American champion, Caroline Meredith (Ms. Andress), is now ready to move to the next round, where she'll face the ultimate opponent, an Italian (Marcello Mastroianni, his hair dyed blond to match his co-star's).
Petri won the foreign-language Oscar for his far superior 1970 film, "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion," but it's "The 10th Victim" that lingers in the public imagination and has now been reissued by Blue Underground in an excellent Blu-ray transferred from the original negative. The playful production design, by Michelangelo Antonioni's regular collaborator Piero Poletto, probably accounts for much of the movie's continued appeal. His Rome of the future has been assembled out of the architecture of the Fascist past (Bernardo Bertolucci would return to some of the same locations for his 1970 period drama "The Conformist") and festooned with the fetish objects of the Op-Pop 60s: inflatable furniture, Trimline telephones. Several big themes are bruited about in the screenplay: how the mass media have turned violence into entertainment, how capitalism has commodified the most primal human urges, how the vacuity of modern life has obscured the riches of a mythic past. (The climax is set at the Temple of Venus in Rome, transformed for the occasion into a backdrop for a teabag commercial.) But at heart "The 10th Victim" amusingly remains a classic commedia all'italiana of the 1960s, with Mastroianni in his archetypical role as the castrated Casanova, struggling to maintain his inbred macho poise as he is assaulted, not only by Ms. Andress's gun-toting Amazon, but by a mercenary wife (Luce Bonifassy) and an impatient mistress (Elsa Martinelli), who have joined forces against him. In this Italy before civil divorce the battle of the sexes could, in the movies at least, become hilariously literal (as in Pietro Germi's 1961 "Divorce, Italian Style," with Mastroianni as a frustrated Sicilian aristocrat, married to a battle ax but in love with his doe-eyed cousin). In the end there is a 10th victim -- but just who it is and how are questions Petri leaves conspicuously unanswered. -- Dave Kehr, The New York Times, September 30, 2011
The Italians really did 1960's camp the best.
The film features a solid performance from Marcello Mastroianni in the role of Marcello Polletti charismatic character that in many ways resembles his own persona.
I'm about 99% sure that the movie is really supposed to end just after Mastroianni shoots Andress, but Levine apparently considered that ending too downbeat.
An almost forgotten camp classic from the 60's, and it should have stayed forgotten. The movie has some force in the beginning, when we are introduced to the film's premise of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by James Clifton
One of my all time favorite movies. So happy it came out on DVD.Published 3 months ago by CMH Caldwell
I challenge any viewer to turn away from The 10th Victim having seen
the first five minutes. But the tantalizing opening sequences only hint
at the roller coaster ride... Read more
It's the future, which looks a lot like a more extreme late sixties, and Italian Marcello Poletti is SO done with women, and plain tired of life. Read morePublished 10 months ago by D. Allen Schaeffer
In 1965 this was a humorous take on where the world would end up in the 21st century. In the 21st century it is still humorous but also a bit shocking in how it foretold... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kevin J. Ashley
If you don't have a Blu-ray player and are still only using DVD, let me point out that the reissue of this film to DVD by Blue Underground is identical to the earlier Anchor Bay... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bob S
I didn't remember caring much for this film when it first came out, and time hasn't helped it one bit. Ursula Andress looks fantastic, and is the only reason to watch it, IMO. Read morePublished 12 months ago by IVox Populi