This product was provided by Arrow for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.
Released in 1971, right after the start of the giallo boom, and based on the novel by David McDonald Devine, The Fifth Cord may be slightly derivative in plot to all the other gialli flooding cinemas during this time, but its incredible direction from Luigi Bazzoni and cinematography from Vittorio Storaro easily make it stand out from the rest.
Franco Nero plays Andrea, a grizzled, alcoholic journalist assigned to covering the brutal attack on a young man going home from a New Year’s party. Before long, there’s another attack on a woman, and this time it’s murder. The bodies start piling up, and Andrea himself is implicated in the killings, having a connection to each of the victims; now he must find the killer before all those close to him are slain.
From its fantastic opening fisheye sequence, it becomes evident that The Fifth Cord is something special in the visual department, and it only gets better from there, consistently wowing the audience with its perfectly framed photography, shot after glorious shot.
Andrea is a man stuck out of time, unable to let the new societal norms into his life. He a barely functioning alcoholic who resents his co-workers and seems to actively dismiss the modern world, isolating himself from those around him. This isolation is perfectly reflected in Storaro’s cinematography, with meticulously crafted camerawork consistently showing Andrea framed through windows and bars and seemingly trapped in the modern architecture surrounding him.
Outside shots show a seemingly uninhabited Rome, largely devoid of people, as Andrea struggles to find the perpetrator of the killings. It’s these visuals that elevate The Fifth Cord from a competent, yet forgettable giallo, to a must-see film of the genre.
Arrow Video’s treatment of the film is spectacular, presenting a new 2K restoration from the original camera negatives that make the video look crisp and clean with nary a blemish to be seen. Ennio Morricone’s score pops with the original lossless mono soundtrack, and the disc contains both the Italian and English versions.
On the supplements side, the Blu-ray is packed with bonus content, including visual essays; interviews with cast and crew, including Franco Nero; and a previously unseen deleted scene, sourced from the original camera negative. There’s also your standard trailers and image galleries to round things out, making it a complete package.
I went into The Fifth Cord expecting a standard giallo flick with the added bonus of Franco Nero playing the lead, but I wasn’t expecting just how gorgeous this film actually is, making it one of the most visually appealing gialli I’ve seen, rivaling the best of Bava and Argento, though decidedly weaker in the narrative department when compared to many of their works. Still, for fans of Italian cinema of this era, I can’t recommend The Fifth Cord enough, based on Storaro’s work alone.