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Amphibians in Movies
The Salamander (1981)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
The Salamander The Salamander The Salamander
The Salamander The Salamander The Salamander
Despite the title, I'm sorry to report that there are no salamanders in this movie. I watched it hoping to see an action superhero called "The Salamander" who wears a skin-tight black jumpsuit with yellow spots on it and rides a flaming motorcycle to her soggy hideout under a log somewhere in the woods. But no such luck. It's just a crime thriller, without many thrills. The cast is decent, the locations in Italy and Switzerland are all scenic, it's based on a best-selling book, and the director previously won an oscar for editing The Deer Hunter, but it all amounts to a yawn.

The Italian police are investigating a series of murders that involve prominant people. The murderer leaves a card with a drawing of a salamander on it next to each of the victims. (The salamander on the card looks more like a dragon than an amphibian. It's covered with fire and topped with a crown.) When describing the first salamander card a police Captain says "The design - obviously a salamander. It's a durable legendary little beast who stands for justice and survives even fire."…"The design could have been a coat of arms."  I hadn't heard that salamanders stood for justice, but I guess that explains the cards.

An Italian Colonel (Franco Nero, who played Django) finds a wealthy businessman (Anthony Quinn) who used to go by the name "The Salamander." During the war and afterwards, he forced war criminals to commit suicide, leaving a card with a salamander on it with their bodies. But there doesn't seem to be any connection between him and the new salamander cards. After we learn that Quinn was called "The Salamander" there is no more information about the salamander cards at all. It's just dropped. And that is fairly early in the movie. Quinn plays an important role in the rest of the movie, but the whole Salamander thing is not very important to the plot at all.