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The missing and the dead
by Gort

It's a good question. What indeed have they done to your daughters? Well they've hanged one of them for a start, although the police don't initially realise this. Looks like suicide to them. After all, the death was phoned in anonymously and what could be suspicious about that? Then again, giallo movie cops are never the brightest buttons in the tin. Lucky for them that new assistant district attorney Vittoria Stori is on the case. She's more sensitive to such matters than the slow-witted Inspector Valentini or his buddy Silvestri, a clumsily dubbed homicide detective who's easily annoyed and whose interrogation technique, even with young girls, is to yell at them.

It's seƱorita Stori who works out that dead girl Sylvia was murdered (DA's intuition) and she who drives forward the investigation into the reasons why, although the case progresses as much due to luck and handy tip-offs as solid police work. It's a combination of all three that nabs them a photographer who's been snapping pictures of Sylvia through her window and has stupidly hung around long enough to get spotted by the authorities. "Damned peeping tom!" snaps Silvestri with undisguised loathing, then adding immediately, "Still, I suppose we should thank him."

As case details unfold in flashback, an array of possible suspects enter and quickly exit the frame. A raid on an apartment (tip-off again) uncovers a big clue in the shape of a blood-spattered bathroom. Actually blood spattered doesn't cover it – imagine a space hopper full of blood that has suffered a pressure explosion and you'll get the idea. Whose blood could it be? They find that out when the private investigator hired by Sylvia's parents to watch over her is found in the boot of his car and carved into pieces. They trace him through his disinterested wife and his secretary Rosa, the latest in a line of girls that this randy PI's been bedding. Rosa's in hospital, where she's slowly recovering from a car accident. Wifey wishes it had killed her, then nearly gets her way when the hospital in question is visited by dark-dressed figure wearing a crash helmet and waving a cleaver.

It's here that the film moves into overdrive, as the police arrive in the nick of time and chase the attacker through the hospital in thrillingly mobile wide shots. A hand is graphically severed and night turns to day in the blink of an eye so that the pursuit can continue through the busy city streets. And it's a corker, five solid minutes of breathless cat-and-mouse chasing between a fleeing motorcycle and pursuing police cars, ending in an escape that I, for one, couldn't work out how bike boy could logically have survived.

No matter. The giallo badge is a little misleading here, as despite the occasionally violent trimmings, What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is essentially a police procedural with a social conscience, one whose purpose becomes clearer as the plot unfolds and is cemented by an end-of-film statistic regarding missing teenagers. In this respect, in spite of some silliness imposed by the English dub, it does pretty damned well, keeping the plot turns coming and pulling off a genuinely tense scene in which Stori is terrorised by the killer in the parking basement of her apartment block.

Busy with incident and brisk of pace, a layer of real class is provided Franco Delli Colli's scope photography, Antonio Siciliano's taut editing and Stelvio Cipriani's four-theme score. It may end abruptly, but it's still an involving and well produced piece, and along the way we're given good reason to appreciate that choice of (English) title. The Italian title, by the way, is La Polizia chiede aiuto, which as a far as I can reason translates as a somewhat less poetic "The Police ask for help."

sound and vision

The anamorphic scope transfer here shows Shameless on good form, the odd scratch during the opening credits clearing for a generally clean and crisp picture with good contrast and colour. There is some digital noise in the darker scenes, but for the most part this is a fine job.

The Dolby 2.0 mono soundtrack betrays a slight hum but nothing distracting. On the whole it's clean and clear, though with the expected limitations on dynamic range.

The film is preceded by an announcement that to produce this uncut print, Shameless have had to very occasionally source an Italian language print with burned-in English subtitles. These moments are rare and tend to catch you by surprise, but there's no significant quality drop. They do, though, the make you yearn for the Italian dialogue track.

extra features

Only the Theatrical Trailer (3:21), although this does look like the real deal, having more damage and dirt than you'll find on the feature, as well as noticeably weaker colour and an explosion of compression artefacts. As so often with genre trailers, most of the film's (brief) nudity and extreme violence is included.


The sometimes daffy dub aside, What Have They Done to Your Daughters? is a rather nifty police thriller with plenty to recommend it in the technical handling and a dense enough plot to just about cover the holes or credibility stretches. Obviously Shameless are sometimes at the mercy of their source material, but have done well with this one and the film looks good.

What Have They Done to Your Daughters?
La Polizia chiede aiuto

Italy 1974
87 mins
Massimo Dallamano
Giovanna Ralli
Claudio Cassinelli
Mario Adorf
Franco Fabrizi
Farley Granger

DVD details
region 0
2.35:1 anamorphic
Dolby mono 2.0
release date
26 May 2008
review posted
15 May 2008

See all of Gort's reviews