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Blue Underground / 92 Minutes / 1965 / Unrated / Street Date: September 13, 2011
Like a glitzy, mod Euro-Most-Dangerous-Game, The Tenth Victim is a campy cult guilty pleasure. Its success as a note-for-note movie is as flimsy as most of Ursula Andress' tops, but very early on in this Blu-ray presentation of the movie, it becomes blatantly clear that The Tenth Victim has no intention of being narratively inventive in any major way: It just wants to be leggy, jiggly chick-with-a-gun fun.
Speaking of which, when we meet Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress), she is on the hunt. In the near future - a vivid, retro 60s future - the rich and powerful enjoy something called the Big Hunt, a kind of live-or-die polo game in which competitors must either succeed as hunter or victim, and Caroline - with the sponsorship of a major corporation - wants to notch her tenth kill in particularly memorable fashion. Unfortunately, this fellow ends up being not a limping gazelle but Marcello Poletti (Marcello Mastroianni), a sulky studmuffin who falls victim, to be sure, but to Caroline's long legs and not her firearm.
What ends up being particularly and oddly unique about The Tenth Victim is how it straddles the line between outre sci-fi thriller and Italian sex comedy. The movie is tonally impossible to nail down - it's all over the place, that's for sure - and it's this rhetorical volatility that gives it its cult-y cred. Also, the mere act of watching Mastroianni and Andress undress each other with their eyes is international starpower catnip.
I doubt The Tenth Victim is a good movie (it's definitely not the classic certain cineastes claim), but as a relic of its age and a vehicle for some high-profile movie star wattage, it isn't without its charms. It's a lark in terms of Mastroianni's career - he didn't make a lot of movies in this vein - and a hip, weird-o little movie that has been thankfully rescued from the vaults and given a high-definition presence that will please Victim lovers to no end.