The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Dario Argento's directorial debut, is the rare serial killer picture that leaves much to the imagination by staging its murders with a minimum of gore and a reliance on strategic camera work. These scenes often have a claustrophobic feel to them, as they focus on hands, knives, and body parts, and use sound and editing to fill in the rest. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro displays his usual command of the visuals, whether he is showing off by having the camera give a point-of-view shot as a man falls to his death or is taking a more subtle approach when cloaking the protagonist in darkness as he is pursued through the streets by a yellow-jacketed assassin. Among the better scenes are: the opening sequence of Sam watching as Monica is attacked in a gallery while he is trapped behind a glass door and unable to help her; the scene where Julia is trapped in her apartment while the killer tries to carve through the door with a knife; and the surprising conclusion. All of these scenes contain the feeling of helplessness in the face of horror, a sense of being unable to prevent violence from happening to others or to oneself. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage looks very much like a product of its time -- the cosmopolitan atmosphere, the ultra-stylish approach to an old genre, and the sense that it is trying to shock its audience with a use of sex and violence (and, at times, a combination of the two) that was probably pushing the envelope in 1969, but which has considerably tamed over time.