The 10th Victim

The 10th Victim (1965)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, Elsa Martinelli, Salvo Randone
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Biographies, Filmographies

’The 10th Victim’ is a very odd hybrid sci-fi/comedy/60s Mod movie based on an original story by Robert Sheckley (sadly out-of-print). Directed by Elio Petri, this quirky Italian film offers a funny and entertaining look at the serious business of murder for sport.

In the not-too-distant future (actually the 21st century which is, of course, now), the most popular form of entertainment in the world is ’The Big Hunt,’ a competition in which people seek out and kill other contestants to earn prizes and fame. Each player must survive five rounds as the hunter and five as the hunted and only when they are the hunter do they know for sure who to kill. The lovely Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) is a skilled contestant who has just completed her ninth game in a most unusual manner and is now tasked with taking out her tenth and final victim, Marcello Polletti (Marcello Mastroianni), a competent player who has somehow managed to survive through six games of his own whilst besieged by both his ex-wife and gold-digging girlfriend.

As Caroline and Marcello begin to face-off, both are approached by sponsors who want the final kill to showcase their products. While the two players jockey for position, the cold-hearted Caroline begins to fall for the romantic Marcello and she must eventually choose between her very foreign feelings of love and the certain fame and fortune that await her should she complete the game.

’The 10th Victim’ is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Given the age and budget of the film, and the fact that it has rarely been seen in widescreen, this transfer is stunning. The image is sharp with nice colors and good contrast and black levels. Not surprisingly, the picture is somewhat grainy and there are a few blemishes here and there. The frequent use of bright natural lighting (this is, after all, Rome) also leads to a somewhat harsh look at times. But I really can’t imagine ’The 10th Victim’ looking much better.

Audio is offered in the original Italian or an optional English dub. Both tracks are very basic mono mixes split between the two front speakers. The voice talent used for the dub is flat-out awful so stick to Italian with English subtitles. The dynamic range of the mix is decent enough although any hint of bass is slight at best. The crazed musical score comes across clear and strong and the dialogue is easily understandable as well.

As far as extras, the DVD offers up the very entertaining American theatrical trailer as well as bios and filmographies for Mastroianni and Andress.

’The 10th Victim’ is a funny satire on human nature and the levels to which society will sink for the sake of entertainment, money, and celebrity. My biggest complaint is that the film leans so far to the side of comedy that the very cutting satire becomes overshadowed and soon loses its impact on the viewer. The zany soundtrack and bizarre set design and costumes only lend to this air of hilarity. It’s a fun film but I would have liked to see it play up the darker elements a bit more.

Fans of the 60s Mod scene, the amazing Marcello Mastroianni, or Ursula Andress in a bikini will likely delight in ’The 10th Victim.’ Anchor Bay is to be applauded for offering up this long-missing gem with a fine widescreen image and the original Italian soundtrack.