Pre Wedding9 Pre Wedding. Makeup 8 Make up. In the end, this early success proved to be relatively short-lived and none of the ten or so films that Mogherini subsequently produced, which included several made specifically for television, succeeded in attracting similarly strong critical or popular appreciation. For reviews of the film see Pergolari, pp. Makeup 11 Make up.
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Pre Wedding9 Pre Wedding. Pre Wedding8 Pre Wedding. Pre Wedding7 Pre Wedding. Pre Wedding6 Pre Wedding. Pre Wedding5 Pre Wedding. Pre Wedding4 Pre Wedding. Pre Wedding3 Pre Wedding. Unable to close the case, the police decided to move the body to Sydney where it was preserved in a formalin bath and put on show to the public at Sydney University, in the hope that someone might eventually identify the dead woman.
For almost a decade thousands of people were able to inspect the body and the police investigated numerous presumed identifications but all to no avail.
In one of the oddest coincidences in this case strewn with oddities and anomalies, Agostini, who had been interned as an enemy alien during the war but subsequently released when Italy had joined the Allies, was at the time working as a waiter at the famous Sydney restaurant Romanos, a place much frequented by the NSW Commissioner of Police, William MacKay.
Agostini, having recently arrived from Italy in , managed the cloakroom at Romanos and MacKay had already been a frequent patron of the prestigious venue at that time. The Commissioner was thus able to simply call Agostini into his office and accuse him of the murder. The mild-mannered Agostini immediately confessed to having killed his wife accidentally one morning when he had awoken to find her holding a pistol to his head and the gun had gone off in the ensuing struggle.
Distraught and feeling unable to go to the police for fear of not being believed, Agostini claimed to have subsequently wrapped the body in a hessian bag from his garage and in the middle of the night driven into the countryside near Albury where he had dumped it in a culvert beneath the road and set it alight with petrol.
Then he had driven home. She had thus disappeared from home a number of times before, not least because, as a hairdresser by profession, she sometimes accepted periods of work on a cruise liner. Consequently, although the police had questioned Agostini at home in their original efforts to identify the body, he had claimed that his wife had left him, as she had previously often done, and he had no knowledge of her present whereabouts; and he had been believed.
This had been aided by what turned out to be an inaccurate dental examination of the corpse in the first instance by a dentist inexperienced in such matters, providing police with no specific reason to connect the corpse with Linda. Agostini did sign a written confession but it included no admission of battering his wife to death and, moreover, he would never acknowledge that the body he had seen in the formalin bath was actually his wife. The situation became even more complicated at the very long coronial inquest that followed, during which doubt continued to be cast on the identification of the Pyjama Girl with Linda Agostini.
For in the continuing publicity surrounding the case had prompted a respected Sydney physician and aspiring amateur sleuth by the name of Dr Palmer Benbow to undertake his own investigation. Over the years a number of people had suggested that the body could have been that of a young woman by the name of Anna Philomena Morgan. Eventually, after the longest and most complex inquest in the history of Victoria, the coroner ruled that the body was that of Linda Platt and consequently committed Agostini to stand trial for the murder of his wife.
The trial also reserved a number of surprises. It had all the signs of being prompted ex post facto to Agostini, possibly by Commissioner MacKay himself. Oddest of all, and in spite of the corroborating evidence, Agostini continued to maintain that he did not recognise the woman in the formalin bath at Sydney University as his wife.
Asked to rule on a charge of murder the jury returned a verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. The judge himself expressed astonishment, telling Agostini that he thought the jury had been merciful to him, believing him to have been tried beyond endurance by her drinking and accusations of jealousy. He would consequently impose a term of imprisonment of six years with hard labour 6. In the event, in part due to good behaviour and in part to a general amnesty granted at the end of the war, Agostini only served three years and nine months and upon release was deported to Italy and not heard from again.
As an episode in Australian cultural history, the fascination of the Pyjama Girl case for an Australian audience must be obvious enough, but one wonders what aspects of it would have drawn the interest of an Italian director like Mogherini. But perhaps the aspect of the Pyjama Girl case most likely to have attracted an Italian director intending to make a giallo in Australia would have been the morbid and quasi-erotic fascination with the spectacle of death which seemed to lie at the very heart of the saga, arguably the very same attraction furnished by the spectacularisation of death at the heart of the classic giallo itself.
Indeed, where Italian giallo aficionados might have needed to go to the cinema in order to watch death being put on show as an erotic spectacle, here the Australian public had been offered an almost equivalent spectacle for free for almost a decade. In reality, of course, the body had been badly burned and mutilated and must have been a horrific sight to behold, but the notion that on the point of death she had been wearing was still wearing? Several short, sharp inserts of a horribly blackened and scarified face serve to momentarily remind us of the figure of death but the camera nevertheless quickly returns to linger over the beautiful, model-perfect female body which thus continues to captivate our gaze.
At the same time, the placement of the case in the middle of the room not only makes possible, but also positively encourages, an exhaustive inspection of the body from every possible angle. As the camera itself shifts around to get other views of it, we see several men crawl under the glass case to look upward, aspiring perhaps to look even inside this body, to grasp its ultimate mystery perhaps the mystery of death itself?
And, in a cheekily ironic touch, for a second or two, in the midst of this veritable orgy of looks, a policeman is shown raising his hand in order to stop a Japanese tourist from taking a souvenir photograph of the body on show. Ironic, because as we learn after the room has completely emptied, the entire process has been recorded on closed-circuit TV. A stunning scene, then, that succeeds brilliantly in visually emblematising the erotic voyeurism at the very centre of the Pyjama Girl saga, but whose full import does not become apparent — as in all good gialli — until the very end.
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