This is a rather dreary Italian science fiction film from 1965. The basic premise is similar to many films that came later – there’s a national obsession with a televised game whereby people hunt and kill each other. It’s an idea later expanded on in stories like The Running Man, Battle Royale and The Hunger Games. It may be that the 10th Victim is the first film to feature the idea, although The Most Dangerous Game from the 1930s had humans being hunted for sport, just without the televised element.
The problem with the 10th Victim is that it plays the idea for laughs. It’s inevitably a satirical concept, commenting on society’s appetite for violence and general moral shortcomings. But that doesn’t mean it has to try to be funny. Unfortunately the 10th Victim does, and does so in a uniquely tiresome 1960s style. The humour is leaden and self-indulgent, and very smug. It’s one of those films that seems to feel that famous actors appearing should be enough in and of itself to keep an audience happy, without there being any necessity for them to actually be amusing.
In this case the famous actors are Marcello Mastroianni, star of some of Fellini’s more endurable films; and Ursula Andress, a former Bond girl who never quite carved out a niche for herself otherwise. Both are infuriating in this. It’s the kind of film where having guns pop out of someone’s bra is probably the best joke, and it wears out its welcome long, long before it finally ends. The director, Elio Petri, later made the excellent Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, so was capable of great things. Sadly this isn’t one of them.
Shameless’s blu-ray looks pretty good, although it does feel like it could have been better. The film itself is fairly innocuous in terms of violence – the 18 certificate is because of the trailers, which include some fairly bloody stuff. It costs a staggering £19 on amazon at the moment, but you can almost certainly get it cheaper elsewhere.