Om în Loden, Un (1978)

vt A Man in a Raincoat; vt The Man in the Overcoat

Romania / 80 minutes / color / Romániafilm, Casei de Filma Unu Dir: Nicolae Mãrgineanu Pr: Constantin Stoiciu Scr: Nicolae Mãrgineanu, Haralamb Zinca Story: Moartea Vine pe Banda de Magnetofon (1967) by Haralamb Zinca Cine: Tarko Gabor Cast: Victor Rebengiuc, Ovidiu Iuliu Moldovan, Constantin Diplan, George Constantin, Mircea Albulescu, Cazimir Tanase, Sanda Toma, Draga Olteanu Matei, Florina Luican, Andrei Finti, Silviu Stanculescu, Elena Sereda, Gheorghe Visu.

Petrologist Danut “Dan” Stamatiad (Rebengiuc) is being tormented by nightmares that culminate in him waking to the noise of a man’s sepulchral laughter. When he starts to receive threatening letters and phonecalls he initially suspects Boeriù (uncredited), a rival colleague at the institute where he works, but Boeriù proves to have been on a field trip. The institute’s director (Stanculescu) insists Dan go to the Securitate (cops), whose suspicions initially focus on Dan’s colleague Costi Aman (Constantin), whose behavior is certainly suspicious enough and who, despite superficial camaraderie, is believed to harbor some ill will toward Dan over a professional error of Aman’s that Dan corrected.

The Securitate’s Major Lucian (Moldovan) and Lt. Frunza (Diplan) step up their investigations when Dan’s sister Angela Prisacaru (Toma) is shot and seriously wounded. By now the mystery caller is identifying himself as Traian Feraru whom, 34 years ago, Dan shopped to the law as a member of the murderous pro-Nazi Iron Guard, and who died in a confrontation with the cops. Traian Feraru was, however, survived by his brother Anghel (Tanase), who, posing as mental patient Ernest Gramoste, is now on the loose and seeking revenge. Through blackmail and persuasion he has enlisted to his scheme Dan’s colleague Bogdan Negreanu (Finti), the institute’s secretary Ms. Niculescu (Sereda), Aman’s supposed mistress Mioara Cotmeanu (Luican) and even the son, Nelu Matu (Visu), of Dan’s cleaning lady . . .

Although the movie shows its age (and could be accused of being a commercial for Ceaucescu’s rightly loathed Securitate), there’s a lot here to like. The credits sequence makes dramatic use of foreshortening and acoustics as it creates a surreally sinister effect from nothing more than a man descending a spiral staircase. At about the movie’s midpoint, Dan wakes in the early hours to find his electricity has been cut off and his small apartment filled with the sound of beating wings; as he explores by the uncertain illumination of his shakily held flashlight, the tension becomes remarkable—and his discovery that the intruder is a large owl becomes even creepier because of the flickering light. Later on, there’s a clever piece of business with identical twins on a train; Lucian can’t initially understand why one man seems to be in two places at once. And so on. These fine sequences are ably accompanied by Cornel Taranu’s restrained score.

On A Man in a Raincoat (Un Om in Loden)

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