1970, TSPDT Rank #830
This film was the follow-up to The Conformist, arguably Bertolucci's masterpiece, and also deals with fascism in a way. Vittorio Storaro's amazing cinematography is equally as good as that previous film (I could tell this even through the terrible VHS quality), but The Spider's Stratagem does not match The Conformist in terms of story and themes. It's about a man who is called by his father's mistress to a small Italian town where his father was supposedly killed by fascists 30 years earlier, and is considered an anti-fascist hero. He then tries to investigate the murder, but the truth seems at the end to be best left unrevealed. In this film, the main character is conforming in the interest of the people and anti-fascism in general, while in The Conformist the main character is trying to conform to an image of normality by becoming a fascist and leaving behind his secrets. I feel this could have had the makings of a great film, but it's too much of a mess, scenes from the present are mixed confusingly with flashbacks, characters are thrown in and taken out - leaving the movie not all that coherent. But it's still worth seeing as a companion piece to The Conformist, and for Storaro's cinematography - especially if it would be given a passable DVD release.