La morte ha ballato il twist

Director: Piero Costa
Story: Piero Costa
Screenplay: G. Safford, G. Tasco
Cast: Gordon Mitchell, Roger Brown, Franka Bell, Renato Baldini, Saro Urzi, Don Powell, Luisa Rivelli, Vincen Barbi, Franca Cattaneo (Miss Italia 62), Ugo Sasso

Here’s another of our occassional examinations of lost or incompleted films, this time out, it’s La morte ha ballato il twist, a crime film that was featured in Ercole magazine from 1962 (complete with a photo of Gordon Mitchell and Vincent Barbi in a staged fight for the scene, with the credit ‘On board the boat Onda, waiting for demolition in the port of Trieste, shooting began last week for the film La morte ha ballato il twist, directed by Piero Costa and starring Scilla Gabel [who isn’t mentioned in the  cast list accompanying the article!]’ ).

The plot, according to Ercole, was something like this:

Aldo Castelli, a sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, escapes from prison to prove his innocence and expose the real culprits. The police are alarmed. Commissioner Alessi unleashes his agents. A patrol led by Sergeant Scordia arrests a man who fits to the full description of Castelli. But, shortly after, the warden informed Alessi that Castelli was killed during the escape attempt, and Alessi realises that they have committed a grave error. The young man arrested is an American journalist, Fred Harrison, who, in search of sensational news in a transatlantic newspaper, offers to take the place of Castelli in order to capture the people who set the dead man up: a gang of arms dealers operating in the Mediterranean

News of Castelli’s death is kept secret, and so begins the adventure of the American journalist. First, Fred investigates the activities of a certain Mirko Alegris, owner of a shipping agency, whose testimony was crucial to Castelli’s conviction and who is suspected to be part of this gang.

The reporter breaks into his office at night, along with Apriscatole, a skillful burglar on probation. But the two find Alegris killed by a gunshot. Obeying the orders of the Commissioner, Fred opens the safe and recovers documents that prove the band’s guilt.

The journalist has just taken possession of documents, when two men entered the office. The reporter and Apriscatole hide while the newcomers bring out the body of Alegris and load it on a truck, driven by one of their accomplices, a black man named Job.

Fred, risking everything, jumps into the van, which heads to the port. He sees three men transporte the corpse on board the Sirius, a freighter docked at the pier. While Lersen, the captian of the ship, phones the ringleader, a mysterious individual nicknamed ‘the Greek’, Fred runs into a bar to call Commissioner Alessi. By chance, in the same bar, working the cash register, is Lydia, sister of Aldo Castelli. The girl doesn’t notice him, but Rita, the young bartended, notices him and mistakes him for the fugitive. She watches the American, who heads back to the hotel situated opposite the bar. The resemblance is perfect, the way he walks is perfect.

Lidia is convinced that he is actually her brother, who, knowing being searched for by the police, is trying to avoid being recognized. So the next night Lydia is waiting for him there, close by. There is dense fog and the outlines of the houses are barely distinguishable. The young man tries to stay in the shadows, to make his resemblance to Castelli more credible. In the end, he makes an excuse and moves away from the girl, promising to turn up again soon.

Lydia, however, a starts feeling some serious doubts… Meanwhile, Alessi, informed by Fred, sends Scordia with some other agents to look into what’s happening at the Sirius.

Job, a passionate dancer of the twist, leaves the ship to spend his last night before leaving in a nightclub, ‘The Golden Bat’. Here, a local girl, in agreement with Adami, one of the undercover agents, plies Job with drink, leading him to make some important revelations about the gang leader and his activities. Adami and Fred make a search of the Sirius. Listening to a conversation between two men on board, they discover that the body of Mirko Alegris can be found in the ship’s hold, among some boxes of weapons designed to Tangier. Meanwhile, Alessi learns from Job where the house of gang leader known as ‘Greek’ is…

Notes: Who was Franka Bell? Franka Bellj? Vincen Barbi was an American boxer and character actor, who also appeared in Panic Button (shot in Italy, 64) and Astro Zombies. Mitchell, Browne and Sasso were all in Vulcan Son of Jupiter at around the same time, so possibly there was some kind of connetion between the two films. I can’t find any reference to either G. Safford or G. Tasco, or even any likely pseudonym candidates…  By all accounts, the production ran out of money, although whether it was completed or not isn’t clear.

(thanks to Larry Anderson for his help researching this article)

About Matt Blake 890 Articles
The WildEye is a blog dedicated to the wild world of Italian cinema (and, ok, sometimes I digress into discussing films from other countries as well). Peplums, comedies, dramas, spaghetti westerns... they're all covered here.

1 Comment

  1. Sure glad Tom Betts hit on your website for this film. I have been pulling my hair out all afternoon trying to a lead on this Piero Costa director.

    Now this “Twist” film does sound interesting to a point, I guess his monies ran out before it ever got started other than a couple promo shots. It would be nice to know what character the listed actors were suppose to play. I remember Gordon Mitchell saying he just didn’t remember it, but thought the director died? Roger Browne on the other hand says he went with Gordon on the train to Triste for filming but stayed in the hotel for two days without shooting anything. They all left without pay (per diem) he said, that’s all he remembers of it.

    If a character list could be gotten, it would be great guys. Thank you.
    Ciao, Tom

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