Ursula Andress sports the world’s deadliest bra as she notches her penultimate kill in “The Big Game,” the 21st century’s answer to overpopulation and aggression — kill 10 and you become a millionaire! Next target, a blonde, sunworshipping Marcello Mastroianni, who’s also got one victim to go. Cartoonish, pop art satire from the director of Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story “Seventh Victim,” part of a new Sheckley collection published by NYRB Classics. This is the first of our 2013 events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the New York Review of Books. Introduced by regular contributor Geoffrey O’Brien.
Based on Robert Sheckley’s 1953 short story the “Seventh Victim”—included in Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley,—Elio Petri’s The 10th Victim is a psychedelic trip to the future where civilization’s strategy to end wars is a legalized, cathartic “Big Hunt”, where two strangers are designated “hunter” or “victim” and then have to kill or be killed. Marcello Mastroianni with bleach, cropped hair (it’s the future!) is victim and Ursula Andress with bullet-shooting bra and back-less dresses is the hunter. Need I say more? Scenes not to miss: Andress shooting someone with her bra (in fact, all the outfits); Mastroianni bringing Andress over to his ex-wife’s house, only to be interrupted by both his ex-wife and his current lover; the two of them wrestling in the Roman Forum; and the list goes on. Highly recommended, both the Sheckley book and the movie.
If Sheckley is known beyond the confines of science fiction, it is probably for “Seventh Victim,” made into a 1965 movie called “The 10th Victim” (and still fondly remembered for Ursula Andress’s bullet-shooting bra). In a future society, war has been eliminated, but man’s killer instincts remain. So some outlet for his aggression must be found. The outlet is a game, of sorts, overseen by the Emotional Catharsis Board. In it, people alternate being hunters and victims, the object being to kill — or be killed. A hunter knows the name of his victim, but the victim doesn’t know the identity of his hunter. What happens, though, when you’re Stanton Frelaine and the person you’ve been assigned to murder is Janet-Marie Patzig, a beautiful young woman with whom you find yourself falling in love?
—from Michael Dirda’s review of Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley in The Washington Post. You can read the rest of the review here.