Cock Crows at Eleven (1978)


Cock Crows at Eleven Storyline

Federico is a child-killer running from the law. Wounded, he is taken in by a 12 year old girl named Simona. Their strange love affair is interrupted by Simona’s depressed, oversexed mother Vera, who concocts a plan with Federico to kill her wheelchair-bound, reclusive husband. Simona does not take kindly to this new relationship between Federico and Vera.—lonamer

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Cock Crows at Eleven Movie Reviews

High quality and well worked Italian thriller

L’Immoralita is a film that is difficult to pigeon hole into one ‘type’ of film, but suffice to say it’s an entertaining and well worked thriller with enough substance to satisfy most viewers, providing they can stomach the sometimes uncomfortable tone of the movie. Almost everything about the film really is rather detestable and as such the characters are hard to care for; making watching the film akin to watching a car crash at times. The film begins with a scene that sees a man carrying the body of a dead girl before burying her, and then being pursued by a bunch of people with guns. This man turns out to be Federico; a murderer and paedophile, wanted for killing children. Wounded, he bumps into a young girl who he befriends after she offers him shelter. The girl lives with her parents; the mother, lauded as the town slut, and her dilapidated father who is rotting away in a wheelchair. The murderer and the child grow closer together despite the law being after him and the pair develops a friendship that is shattered when the mother discovers the sheltered criminal.

This film is not easy viewing and features certain things that go over and above what I’d call ‘bad taste’ – a sex scene between a man and an eleven year old girl stands out in particular. There’s not a real point to the film as such and it’s more of a character study with the character’s decisions providing the main points of interest. The two adults of the central cast have very distinct elements about their personality that are very easy to dislike, while even the young girl is the not the sweetness and innocence that you would expect. The way the plot moves is not completely typical and the film does veer off down paths you would not necessarily expect, and that does ensure the film remains interesting throughout. Credit has to go to director Massimo Pirri for keeping the film firmly in ‘high class’ territory – with a plot like this, it would have been easy for him to have ended up making a trash film. It all boils down to a typically shocking conclusion and while this film definitely won’t float everybody’s boat, it is a very interesting thriller one that is definitely worth seeing.

L’ IMMORALITA’ (Massimo Pirri, 1978) ***

This is the third Lisa Gastoni “mignotta-movie” (to borrow a phrase from Italian Euro-Cult authority Marco Giusti) I’ve watched – after THANK YOU AUNT (1968) and Fernando Di Leo’s SEDUCTION (1973) – in which a middle-aged woman is seduced by a much younger man. Also, like SEDUCTION, here the man is, in turn, seduced by Gastoni’s sexually precocious daughter. However, this fact is even more disturbing than the earlier film because the girl involved in this case is not yet 12-years old! There is even one rather graphic love scene between the girl and the man in the bathroom, which follows further nudity as she is seen coming out of the bath and drying out; that it does not feel reprehensible or exploitative is a tribute to the remarkably sensitive performance of Karin Trentephol (who, perhaps unsurprisingly, never made another film appearance) as the girl.

Lisa Gastoni (at 43) is still a sensual and attractive woman and has her hair dyed reddish blonde here, but this proved to be the last of several roles in a similar mode – to which I alluded above and of which I wouldn’t mind catching Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s MADDALENA (1971) and Giulio Petroni’s LABBRE DI LURIDO BLU (1975); in fact, she went into a long period of retirement right after this one before re-emerging two years ago. A welcome surprise is the appearance of veteran Hollywood star Mel Ferrer (as Gastoni’s wheelchair-bound cynic of a husband) who adds some much needed dignity to the proceedings; while he had been appearing sporadically in Italian films since 1954, interestingly, his role here does not feel like a mere “meal ticket” – unlike some of his other Italian film work of the period, namely THE ANTICHRIST (1974), THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS (1975), etc. Unfortunately, Howard Ross’ one-dimensional characterization of the rapist/serial killer sticks out like a sore thumb alongside this caliber of acting and, in any event, the actions of the characters strain credibility on occasion – Ferrer is conspicuously absent most of the time (although he is inherently aware of all that goes on in his household and his eventual suicide arises more out of selfishness than resignation at his crippled condition or the immorality of his kinfolk), not to mention the fact that the investigating police officer decides to consummate his obsession with Gastoni while the manhunt for the rapist is in full swing.

Still the film is buoyed by Ennio Morricone’s unusually subtle yet effortlessly haunting piano-led score and Massimo Pirri’s firm directorial control that ensures the impact of several sequences on the viewer: the powerful opening scene in which Ross is holding his latest victim in his hands on his way to burying her; the lengthy, moving stairway confrontation between Gastoni and Trentephol; the confrontation between Ferrer and Gastoni in which the latter sadistically taunts the former by taking a hysterical spin on his wheelchair, and the twist ending which concludes the film on an admirably ironic note. While the central premise of a girl hiding and aiding a fugitive is reminiscent of WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND (1961) and THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973), the action set-piece around the mid-point – where a band of villagers break into Ferrer’s house with the intention of smoking the rapist out – is straight out of Sam Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS (1971). An odd attribute of the Italian DVD I watched is that some over-exposed shots jarred alongside the more naturalistic lighting within these same scenes, but I’m not sure whether this is a fault of the DVD transfer or if they were filmed that way to begin with…

Sleazy psychological thriller.

An 11 year-old girl befriends an injured man unaware that he is a paedophile killer.Her mother winds up having an affair with him which makes the girl jealous so she sets out to seduce him as well.”L’Immoralita” by Massimo Pirri reminded me a little bit an infamous “Maladolescenza”,but it was not as graphic.Still the sex scene between the girl and the killer may certainly upset some viewers,albeit the girl is clearly replaced by an older body-double.The story of “L’Immoralita” is morally dubious,however the acting is quite good and there is enough sleaze to satisfy any self-respecting smut peddler.I’d recommend this film for fans of Italian exploitation.7 out of 10.