The 10th Victim (1965) | It’s the Pop Art and deadly bullet bra that makes this 1960s sci-fi satire so achingly cool


In the near future (from a retro 1960s perspective that is), war and violence has been replace with The Big Hunt, a government-backed televised sport in which players take turns to be either Hunters or Victims in a hunt to the death which offers a huge cash reward and lucrative advertising deals.

The 10th Victim

Huntress Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress), whose weapon of choice is a double barrel bikini bra gun, scores a major deal with the Ming Tea Company to kill her tenth victim live on camera at Rome’s Temple of Venus. When the Big Hunt computer selects famed hunter Marcello Poletti (Marcello Mastroianni) as the victim, Caroline poses as a TV reporter wanting to run an exposé on him. Unsure as to whether she is his hunter, Poletti is reluctant to take her down, especially when he starts falling for Caroline. But with a vindictive ex-wife wanting his assets and an impatient mistress (Elsa Martinelli) waiting in the wings, the Italian playboy soon discovers he has more than one reason to watch his back…

The 10th Victim

For this 1965 Italian comedy sci-fi, director Elio Petri adapts Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story, The Seventh Victim, into a parody of the Euro spy craze (that came in the wake of the Bond films) and Italian rom-coms (of the kind that often featured Marcello Mastrioanni being chased by women), as well as a satire on bourgeois consumerism.

For his achingly cool visual palette, Petri dips his distinctive brush into contemporary popular culture, drawing on haute couture, modern design and Pop Art imagery to create a gorgeously framed Vogue fashion spread brought to vibrant comic book inspired life. Ursula Andress looks absolutely stunning here in André Courrèges‘s Space Age fashions, thanks to Fellini’s favourite cameraman, Gianni Di Venanzo, who also gives Rome a wonderfully futuristic look. And because Italian cinema just wouldn’t be the same without its iconic mood music; Piero Piccioni gives us a catchy score, with Italian songstress Mina providing the high-pitched harmonies.

The 10th Victim

The Tenth Victim harks back to man being hunted for sport pictures like 1932’s classic The Most Dangerous Game, but with a 1960s-futuristic spin. Petri fittingly places much of the action in the shadow of that last monument to gladiatorial conquest, the iconic Coliseum, while taking pot shots at television elimination shows which, frighteningly, is becoming a reality today. But the sci-fi on display here is nothing like the dark dystopian nightmares of similarly themed films like The Running Man, Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. Instead, Petri opts to tell his story as a romantic comedy that’s more about love, marriage and divorce than futuristic fights to the death (there’s not even a drop of blood in sight). Still, this madcap saturated supercolour sci-fi sex farce is so retro cool, you’ll want to screen it over and over…

The 10th Victim

The Shameless Screen Entertainment dual format release is sourced from HD master restored in the original widescreen film format, with a choice of English or Italian audio with subtitles, and is released for the first time in UK in a Numbered Collector’s Lenticular Edition. The special features include an interview with Kim Newman and Paola Petri (the late director’s wife), trailers and photo gallery.

The brassiere that Ursula Andress sports in the film really did shoot, and was the inspiration for the Fembots in 1999’s Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on March 13, 2014, in Comedy, Must See, Must-See, Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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