The 10th Victim

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The 10th Victim
Italian film poster
Directed by Elio Petri
Produced by Carlo Ponti[1]
Screenplay by
Based on "Seventh Victim"
by Robert Sheckley[1]
Music by Piero Piccioni[1]
Cinematography Gianni Di Venanzo[1]
Edited by Ruggero Mastroianni[1]
  • C.C. Champion
  • Les Films Concordia[1]
Distributed by Interfilm[2]
Release date
December 3, 1965[3]
Running time
92 minutes
  • Italy
  • France[1]
Language Italian
Elsa Martinelli in The 10th Victim (1965).

The 10th Victim (Italian: La decima vittima) is a 1965 Italian-French science fiction film directed by Elio Petri and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress, and featuring Elsa Martinelli in a supporting role. The picture is based on Robert Sheckley's 1953 short story "Seventh Victim". Sheckley later published a novelization of the film in 1966,[5] and two sequels (Victim Prime and Hunter/Victim) in 1987 and 1988, respectively.[6] In the United States, the film was theatrically released by Joseph E. Levine's Embassy Pictures.[7]


In the near future, big wars are avoided by giving individuals with violent tendencies a chance to kill in the "Big Hunt". The Hunt is the most popular form of entertainment in the world and also attracts participants who are looking for fame and fortune.

It includes ten rounds for each competitor, five as the hunters and five as the victims. The survivor of ten rounds becomes extremely wealthy and retires. Scenes switch between the pursuit, romance between a hunter and a victim, with a narrator explaining the rules and justification of the Hunt.

Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) is a huntress armed with a high caliber Bosch shotgun, who has just killed a ninth victim and is looking for her tenth. To maximize financial gain, Meredith wants to get a perfect kill in front of the cameras as she has negotiated a major sponsorship from the Ming Tea Company.

Marcello Poletti (Marcello Mastroianni) is the victim. His winnings from six kills have already been spent by his mistress, Olga, and his ex-wife, Lidia.

Caroline goes to Rome and impersonates a reporter whose assignment is to study the sexual preoccupations of Italian men. She requests an interview with Marcello at the Temple of Venus.

Suspicious, Marcello arranges for Caroline to be eaten by a crocodile before the cameras of a competing television company, but she escapes.

Caroline lures Marcello to the beach and convinces him that she is in love with him. She drugs Marcello and hauls him back to the Temple of Venus.

Caroline shoots Marcello in front of the television cameras, but Marcello survives because he has loaded the gun with blanks. He then shoots her but she is saved by her bulletproof armorplate.

The two decide to get married but are shot by the pilot.

Differences from the original story[edit]

The original short story was written from the point of view of a man hunting his seventh target, a woman, whereas in the movie she is the hunter. He finds her apparently defenceless sitting in a cafe. Talking to her, she tells him how she is new to the game but could not bear to kill her own target, and now expects to die. The hunter falls in love with his victim, as in the movie, and eventually reveals who he is. She has tricked him; she shoots him, joining the ranks of the "Tens".

The story was adapted for radio on X Minus One in 1957.[8]




In contemporary reviews, the Monthly Film Bulletin praised the visuals of the film, but stated that "the film is never quite as much fun as it should be, possibly because of rather ponderous dubbing and possibly because imaginative camera angles cannot totally make up for lapses in narrative."[1] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes it received a score of 83% based on 6 reviews (5 "fresh" and 1 "rotten").[9] Variety found the film superior to Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, praising both Mastroianni and Andress, as well as Elsa Martinelli and Massimo Serato.[10] The review also noted the cinematography of Gianni di Venanzo.[10]

Algis Budrys of Galaxy Science Fiction described Sheckley's novelization as "a reasonably good chase novel" which would, nonetheless, disappoint readers, whether they wanted a literary version of the film's Italian satire and symbolism or the 'chilling futurama of legalized manslaughter' the cover promised.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

US film poster

In the early 1990s, comedian and actor Mike Myers, along with musicians Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet, started a faux British 1960s band whose members adopted personas from that era. The band named itself Ming Tea, after the company that sponsored Andress' character in the film. The band is best remembered as the first appearance of Myers' famous character Austin Powers.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i P.J.S. (1968). "Decima vittima, La (The 10th Victim), Italy/France, 1965". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 35 no. 408. British Film Institute. p. 4. ISSN 0027-0407. 
  2. ^ a b "La decima vittima (1965)". Archivio del Cinema Italiano On-Line. 
  3. ^ La Stampa, Nov 27, 1965
  4. ^ "Cinema - Club - La Decima vittima". RAI. 
  5. ^ Di Filippo, Paul. "The 10th Victim". Science Fiction Weekly. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  6. ^ Frelik, Paweł; Mead, David G. (2007). Playing the Universe: Games and Gaming in Science Fiction. Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Press. p. 134. ISBN 978-83-227-2656-3. 
  7. ^ Bosley Crowther. "Screen: Mastroianni vs. Miss Andress:Futuristic '10th Victim' Opens at 2 Theaters". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ ON RADIO. (1957, Mar 06). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  9. ^ "The 10th Victim (La Decima vittima) (The Tenth Victim)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  10. ^ a b Willis 1985, p. 194-195: "Review is of 92 minute version reviewed on December 15, 1965"
  11. ^ Budrys, Algis (June 1966). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 141–152. 


  • Willis, Donald, ed. (1985). Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews. Garland Publishing Inc. ISBN 978-0-8240-6263-7. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]