Four Flies on Grey Velvet

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Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Quattro mosche.jpg
Italian theatrical release poster
Directed by Dario Argento
Produced by Salvatore Argento
Screenplay by Dario Argento
Story by Dario Argento
Luigi Cozzi
Mario Foglietti
Starring Michael Brandon
Mimsy Farmer
Jean-Pierre Marielle
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Franco Di Giacomo
Edited by Franco Fraticelli
Marianne Productions
Seda Spettacoli
Universal Productions France
Cinema International Corporation
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates 17 December 1971
Running time 104 min.
Country Italy
Language Italian
Box office 1,231,000,000 (Italy)

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Italian: 4 mosche di velluto grigio) is a 1971 Italian giallo film written and directed by Dario Argento. The film is the third in director Argento's "Animal Trilogy", which started with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Cat o' Nine Tails.


Roberto Tobias (Brandon) is a drummer in a rock band who has noticed a man following him for the last several days. Angered by this, he confronts the stranger in an abandoned theater to find out what he wants. The man claims he does not know what Roberto is talking about, and pulls a switchblade. The two struggle, and Roberto accidentally stabs the man, who falls into an orchestra pit, lifeless. Worse still, a masked figure records the murder and begins blackmailing Roberto.

Roberto hires a private investigator to help find out the identity of the blackmailer, only for the private investigator to die mysteriously along with other people in Roberto's circle of friends. However, with help from police, who use a victim's eye to see the last thing the killer sees (a medallion of four flies on a velvet gray shirt), Roberto discovers that his blackmailer is his estranged wife (who as seen in earlier flashbacks from the POV of the killer, as being abused by her father who wanted a son and forced his daughter to act like a boy). The childhood abuse left his wife psychotic and insane, as her father died before she could kill him and had only married Roberto because he looked like her dad and as such, she planned on tormenting and ultimately killing him as a surrogate. Roberto is wounded by his wife only for the police to arrive and his wife is killed in a failed attempt to escape, having been decapitated in a car crash while fleeing in her vehicle.


Michael Brandon Roberto Tobias
Mimsy Farmer Nina Tobias
Jean-Pierre Marielle Gianni Arrosio
Bud Spencer Godfrey
Francine Racette Dalia
Calisto Calisti Carlo Marosi
Marisa Fabbri Amelia
Fabrizio Moroni Mirko
Oreste Lionello The Professor
Aldo Bufi Landi Pathologist
Laura Troschel Maria


Some of the earlier cast considerations for the main role Roberto Tobias were Terence Stamp, Michael York and even some members of The Beatles. Argento did not want to use the "image caught in the retina" plot device since it was too fantastic [1] for the giallo genre. But once Carlo Rambaldi showed him how the effect would look in the finished film, he soon changed his mind. This was originally intended to be Argento's swan song to the giallo genre. This would later change once The Five Days did poorly at the box-office.


A high-speed camera equipment (capable of producing 1000 frames a second) was used [1] to shoot possibly the first known instance (in feature films) of following a bullet's trajectory with high-speed cameras.

To film a car crash and a motion bullet in its flight, a camera that could produce a triple digit number of frames per second and twelve cars were used to get the effect shown in the film.[1]


Deep Purple was considered for the score, but because of scheduling difficulties with the band the film was instead scored by world famous composer Ennio Morricone, who had previously worked on Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Morricone had a major argument with Argento over some tracks Argento did not want in the film. As a result, the director and Morricone would not work together again until 1996 with The Stendhal Syndrome, and the rock group Goblin would eventually become Argento's regular composers.


Critical reception[edit]

AllMovie gave the film a positive review, calling it "an unfortunately overlooked and hard-to-find choice nugget in his [Argento's] oeuvre".[2]

Home video[edit]

It was not until early 2009 that the film was made available to home video audiences in a legitimate version, both domestically or internationally, with the exception of the long out-of-print obscure French VHS. The rights to this film (at least in America) are owned by Paramount Pictures, who had chosen not to release it.

MYA Communication released a region 1 DVD of Four Flies on Grey Velvet on 24 February 2009. The disc contains an uncut, completely remastered print of this "lost" film, featuring theatrical trailers, the English language opening and ending credits and an extensive photo gallery. However, this release omits 30–40 seconds of footage due to print damage.[3]

To celebrate the film's 40th anniversary and to mark 20 years since it was thought to be lost, Shameless Screen Entertainment released it on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK on 30 January 2012. This release includes the following special features:

  • An introduction to the film by writer and assistant director Luigi Cozzi
  • A new, exclusive and extensive interview on the making of film with Cozzi
  • Original English audio remastered in HD exclusively for this release from the original magnetic soundtrack, available for the first time since the film's original theatrical opening in the 1970s
  • Shameless' re-build edit of the complete version of the film including four inserts of previously missing footage known amongst Argento fans as the legendary "missing forty seconds" (the inserts are in standard definition quality). The Blu-ray will allow for seamless branching of the four inserts giving viewers two versions of the film: one all HD without the re-inserted scenes and one longer version including the inserts.
  • Restoration of all individual damaged frames, most notably with respect to the removal of the black diagonal frame line (caused by the film jumping the high speed camera gate) in the final car crash sequence


  1. ^ a b c Alan Jones: Dario Argento The Man, The Myths & The Magic, ISBN 978-1-903254-70-7
  2. ^ Buening, Michael. "Quattro Mosche di Velluto Grigio - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Boer, Michael Den (24 January 2009). "Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Mya Communication) – 10,000 Bullets". Retrieved 3 August 2012. 

External links[edit]