ISABELLA DUCHESSA DEI DIABOLI (1969)
‘Isabella Duchessa dei Diaboli’ is a camp, rambunctious yarn by stolid genre filmmaker Bruno ‘Assassination on The Tiber’ Corbucci based on a popular Fumetti (lurid comic strip) of the time. After the anguished young Duchess witnesses the brutal slaying of her parents, she is fortuitously spirited away by a loyal vassal, and is brought up as a bellicose, knife-thowing gypsy. (as an aside, I felt that Corbucci’s playful framing of this rather melodramatic sequence made for an especially effective scene) While the young duchess enjoys the open-air, free-for-all life of a rollicking Romany, deep inside her pert, pale bosom, she harbors a bitter revenge for the righteous slaying of the truly malefic Baron Eric Von Nutter; the braying, vainglorious despot, who so gleefully sacked her father’s lands and put him to the sword right before her tear-strewn eyes. And in the case of ‘Isabella Duchessa dei Diaboli’, her revenge proves to be a titillating dish, best served with liberal flashes of bravura, bare-breasted swordplay! Corbuccci’s direction is constantly nimble; and all the cast equip themselves admirably in the Swash & Buckle department, and our devilish heroine is both pretty, bellicose, and almost implausibly nubile;dispensing her singular breed of justice whilst in various states of undress. This is a hugely entertaining romp, and i’m so glad that I got a chance to see it at last. Tally Ho!