Aka Cathrine vuole morire
Original running time: 95 mins
Produced by Giorgio Gravina for Columbus Film
Distributed by Lux Film
Director: Giorgio Bianchi
Story & screenplay: Giorgio Bianchi, Mario Casacci, Giuseppe Aldo Rossi, Alberto Ciambricco
Cinematography: Alfio Contini
Music: Armando Trovajoli
Editor: Maurizio Lucidi
Art director: Piero Filippone
Cast: Ubaldo Lay (Lt Ezechiele Sheridan), Umberto Orsini (Tommy), Nadia Sanders [Nadine Duca] (Patricia), Tilde damiani (Gertie), Carlo Alighiero (Sgt. Steve), Livia Contardi (Cathrine Fellows), Juan Vallejo (Jeff), Brigitte Schenkel (Myrna), Carrado Olmi (Pat), Sandro Moretti (Mills), Erina Locatelli (Dolly), John Francis Lane (Jordan, a lawyer), Arturo Zanini (George Berman), Peter Dane (Ferguson), Paola Da Pino (Lizzie), Luigi Borghese (Danny Ciento), Roger Azel, Margareta Puratich
Uncredited: Hazel Rogers (herself), Gianni Manera (Larry, a reporter)
Chiamate 22-22 tenente Sheridan is an obscure 1960 giallo directed by comedy specialist Giorgio Bianchi. A spin off from a popular television series of the time, Tenente Sheridan, which also starred Ubaldo Lay, it’s of some historical interest for being one of the earliest Italian feature films to have been spawned from the then-novel TV medium. Previously, films had been released that were stitched together versions of serials made for TV, but this was a fully realized production that was inspired by, but essentially separate from, the TV series.
Like the equally popular character Maigret – who had been played by Jean Gabin in a couple of successful French / Italian co-productions of the late 50s and would later be featured in another Italian TV series starring Gino Cervi – the TV Sheridan was a dogged and incisive detective who put away a succession of dubious and greedy villains. The film version, written by the same writers who created the TV series (Mario Casacci, Alberto Ciambricco & Giuseppe Aldo Rossi) continues along much the same lines. This time he’s investigating the case of Cathrine Fellows (Livia Contardi), an apparently respectable middle-class lady who has been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a child and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. Reprieved the last moment when some new evidence comes to light, Sheridan – who is put in charge of the case – is in no doubt of her innocence, and begins looking elsewhere for murderer. Before long, his suspicions are focused on three men: small time criminal Ferguson (Peter Dane), twitchy fashion photographer Tommy (Umberto Orsini) and dodgy nightclub owner George Berman (Arturo Zanini).
The killer, though, isn’t going to give himself up easily, and soon the suspects are dropping like flies: Tommy is killed by a hit and run driver, Ferguson shoots himself in the head, supposedly leaving behind an incriminating suicide note that nobody’s stupid enough to fall for, and a number of minor characters are bumped off whenever the plot starts to meander. Will Sheridan be able to crack the case before Cathrine’s time is up?
Despite featuring some decent black and white photography from Alfio Contini, who would go on to become one of the most respected cinematographers in the business, this isn’t a particularly filmic production, and plays as though it could just as easily have been made for television. Although there are occasional attempts to bring a bit of panache to proceedings, it looks very much like the primary concern was simply to get the script filmed as efficiently as possible rather than create an authentically cinematic experience. As a result, it’s extremely dialogue heavy and this, combined to its reliance of a couple of interior sets, gives it a rather theatrical feel.
A lot of the elements that would later characterise the genre are already well-and-truly in place: it’s partially set in a ‘glamorous’ environment (a nightclub, populated by assorted showgirls and fashionistas), there are tons of unlikely red herrings and one of the murder sequences is even films from the point of view of the killer. Director Giorgio Bianchi, who was a talented but unexceptional craftsman, does a pretty good job, and it’s a shame that this stands as one of only a couple of non-comedy films he was ever able to make. There’s also a great jazzy soundtrack by Armando Trovajoli, including one of the most poorly lip-synced showtunes in film history.