Release Date(s)1971 (September 28, 2021)
Studio(s)Estudios Cinematograficos Roma/Filmayer/Tritone Cinematografica (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C-
An unusually convoluted giallo of sorts, The Fourth Victim (aka La ultima senora Anderson, Death at the Deep End of the Swimming Pool) is a Spanish-Italian co-production that has a lot of ideas, but never manages to nail any of them down (which is difficult to discuss without getting into major spoilers, so I won’t try). The main takeaway is that it’s a film that wants to have as many twists and turns as possible. We’re taken down several plot thread paths that constantly double back on themselves, never giving us a firm foothold. This seems like it could be a good thing, but a mystery thriller should have you in its grip. Unfortunately, the execution of this one is frustrating, especially when nothing makes any sense in the end anyway. It doesn’t help that it’s aided by an erratic score that feels inappropriate the majority of the time. It’s a good-looking film that’s well shot, but the story in The Fourth Victim leaves you with more question than answers.
Arthur Anderson (Michael Craig) is on trial for the possible murder of his three previous wives, all of whom died one year apart under mystery circumstances and with healthy insurance policies. He’s found not guilty, thanks in no small part to the testimony of his devoted servant Mrs. Wood (Lone Fleming). One evening after arriving home, he finds a woman named Julie Spence (Carroll Baker) swimming in his pool. Initially dismissive of her, the two soon fall in love and marry, despite the fact that Julie clearly has something to hide and may be mentally unstable. Meanwhile, police inspector Dunphy (Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez) is hounding Arthur’s every move, fully believing that he is indeed a killer. Nearby, a mysterious woman (Marina Malfatti) takes an interest in a house not far from Arthur’s, as well as Julie. Is Arthur really a murderer? What is Julie really up to? Who is this mysterious woman and what does she want with Julie?
Severin Films brings The Fourth Victim to home video for the first time in the US (it was never released theatrically in the US either) with a Blu-ray presentation that, according to the cover art, is “now scanned in 2K from the original negative.” It’s in an almost unrestored state to a certain degree. Flicker is obvious throughout with uneven grain and brightness levels. However, detail is still abundant. Discoloration is apparent during the opening titles, but the overall color palette shines through with decent saturation and skin tones. Uneven blacks are also evident. The image is mostly stable with leftover scratches, speckling, and even occasional frame damage. It should be noted that the opening and closing credits have been digitally recreated. It’s a step up from DVD, but needed a little more care since the source appears to have been in poor shape.
The audio is included in English or Italian 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. Both tracks are loosely synced against the picture, as to be expected, but the English track is a bit more robust when it comes to dialogue and score. The latter even borders on distortion at times. Nevertheless, each track has ample support for the various elements.
The following extras are included, all in HD:
- Eugenio Martin: An Auteur for All Genres (15:36)
- Deleted Scene (2:43)
- Trailer (2:56)
In Eugenio Martin: An Auteur for All Genres (presented in Spanish with subtitles), biographer Carlos Aguilar discusses the director’s various films, his work prior to becoming a director, various people he worked with in the industry, his best work, his techniques, and getting to know him. The deleted scene, which features a humorous visit to Arthur’s insurance agent, appears here only in Spanish and seems to come from the same source as the main presentation. Also included is the English language trailer for the film. The disc is housed in a black amaray case with artwork that uses a form of the image that appears on the Italian and Turkish posters for the film.
Spanish and Italian film fans are bound to eat something like The Fourth Victim up, especially since it’s never been available to be seen in any kind of quality. It’s an interesting film, to say the least, but highly problematic and not all that satisfying. Still, it’s great to see it finally available thanks to Severin Films.
- Tim Salmons