Non si sevizia un paperino [Don't Torture A Duckling] (1972) November 18, 2020 12:28
It's not uncommon for actors to have a particular role or a specific scene linked to them for their entire career. For Ursula Andress it was strolling out of the ocean in that skimpy bikini in the first James Bond film Dr. No. For Marilyn Monroe it was standing over an air vent and her dress blowing up in The Seven Year Itch. And for Barbara Bouchet it's often a particular scene in Non si sevizia un paperino [Don't Torture A Duckling] that not only helped to solidify the giallo as one the of most popular films in the Italian sub-genre but also became the scene that will forever be one of the most memorable to fans... oh yea and the film is pretty good too!
Don't Torture A Duckling takes place in a remote Italian village where a series of brutal murders of young boys sparks massive panic among the residents. Every time the police think they've caught the killer another murder occurs, leaving them more stumped than before. Could it be the town's perverted peeping tom who threatens to kill the boys who caught him spying? Maybe it's the crazy witch who fashioned three voodoo dolls of boys that are later found dead? Or the stunning socialite who recently returned to escape her drug problems in the big city and flirtively teases the young boys. Or maybe it's the town's local priest who seems way too involved in the lives of the town's young boys.
The success of Don't Torture a Duckling lies squarely on the fact the story keeps you guessing until the very end. Anyone could be the killer because almost everyone is setup to look like one. Barbara Bouchet plays Patrizia the "formally" drug addicted socialite, her character is the most interesting, receiving a very memorable introduction as she's tanning in the buff in her living room and mentally toys with a young boy who brings her something to drink, one of the boys whose later murdered. It may be one of Bouchet's most erotic scenes in a large repertoire if not at the very least a burning introduction to her character.
Following Bouchet's performance is Florinda Bolkan in the role of the "witch" Maciara. In terms of acting Bolkan gives the best performance in the film as a mentally disturbed woman tortured by loss in her past, a past that may have damaged her enough to turn her into a murderer? The story puts forth a convincing case of motive but you're left with mixed emotions during a brutal scene where the father's of the murdered children enact their own "justice" upon her.
Overall Don't Torture a Duckling is the quintessential Italian thriller, leaving nothing on the table and no one off the chopping block. It chronicles the horror of murder and the mass hysteria that incites a small town with no answers. Definitely a giallo that hits a little harder than the standard films in the genre and that's likely due to the fact that in this case the main victims are children.
For Barbara Bouchet fans this film may be regarded as her most popular, in terms of the role itself it's not her best. While she has an average amount of screen time she doesn't play a huge part aside from the eye candy scene near the beginning. While it's well worth the price of admission there's a lot better roles she's had in her vast filmography. For strictly giallo fans this one strays away from being so over-the-top as many of the other entries in the genre, playing a much more straight murder mystery plot. Some may find that boring, but I think to the majority that's a reason why the film always seems to be among fan's Top 10.