Karin Schubert stars in the live giallo within the film
This is England, actually, and Cold Eyes of Fear is yet another Italian film that imagines the sceptred isle as the land of dark doings. My hunch is that we're seeing the influence of Edgar Wallace and the German films (often themselves set in England) made from his novels in these Italian movies. In many ways, Cold Eyes is an old-fashioned thriller, if not necessarily the kind Wallace wrote.
In any event, among the audience for the sex-&-violence show are young lawyer Peter Flower (Gianni Garko) and an expatriate Italian prostitute, Anna (Giovanna Ralli) who romp through Swinging London a while before heading to the home of Peter's uncle, a highly respected judge (Fernando Rey). Little do they know that an intruder has already broken in and killed the butler. Julian Mateos plays the intruder, but the dominant performance is by whoever dubbed the role into English. While the rest of the dub artists play things straight, or dull, Mateos's dubber heads straight for cartoonland, issuing the sort of Cockney accent you might hear from a drunk anglophobic American.
The intruder is only setting the stage for his partner and mastermind, who arrives disguised as a policeman, having taken the uniform from a victim sent to the house by the judge to give Flower instructions for finding certain documents. It becomes apparent quickly that the home-invaders are working at cross purposes. Quill (Mateos) is only after money, while Welt (Frank Wolff) is after different kinds of papers. As delusional flashbacks reveal, Welt was sent up the river by the judge while his accomplices got off. Ever since, he has suspected that the accomplices bribed the judge to escape justice, and he hopes to find the proof in the judge's house. At the same time, he has booby trapped the judge's office to blow up should the official pull his door open to leave. Presumably he intends to publicize whatever evidence he expects to find to show the world why the judge deserved to die.
The majesty of the law: Fernando Rey presides; Frank Wolff protests
Cold Eyes is basically a cat-and-mouse story made occasionally interesting by the contrast between a fearless, defiant Anna and the feckless weakling Flower. Take Gianni Garko out of his Sartana costume and he's a lot less formidable, but his character hardens the more he comes to believe that Welt might be right about the judge, until he's at last ready to take violent action against his tormentors. Death by JB bottle is sure to be a highlight for certain fans of Italian genre cinema. Meanwhile, there are strong insinuations that Quill is a misogynist homosexual, though it's unclear whether Welt is that kind of a partner with him. This sort of story really isn't an ideal vehicle for an action specialist like Castellari, who entertains himself with Welt's fantasies of destruction and his persecution-complex flashbacks. The film definitely becomes less linear once Welt takes center stage, as if giving in to the villain's madness, but that description may make the film sound more interesting visually than it actually is. I dug the neon-lit night scenes actually shot in London, but otherwise it's a fairly uninspired film. Not even Ennio Morricone can do much to jazz it up. It must have seemed like an old-fashioned film even at the time it came out, because there's something timelessly tired about it.