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Image Entertainment presents
The Girl Who Knew Too Much ( La Ragazza Che Sapeve Troppo, US: The Evil Eye) (1963)

"Take my advice, miss, and for your own good don't read any more [murder mysteries]."
- Dr. Fracchetti (uncredited)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 10, 2000

Stars: Leticia Roman, John Saxon
Other Stars: Valentina Cortese, Dante de Paolo
Director: Mario Bava

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:25m:42s
Release Date: October 03, 2000
UPC: 014381594324
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+A-C+ C+

DVD Review

Director Mario Bava was a devotee of murder mysteries, and tried his hand at a Hitchcockian mystery in his The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Obviously an homage to Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, right down to the title, Bava's film manages to generate significant suspense in its own right. The basic situation of an American traveling in a foreign land becoming in a murderous plot is revived, but given a clearly Italian twist. Not only does the story mirror the trashy yellow-covered mysteries (the giallo, which became the name of an entire genre), but the heroine is an avid reader of them; indeed, this factor is a major part in why no one will believe her when she claims to have witnessed a murder.

Leticia Roman stars as 20-year-old Nora Davis, on vacation in Rome to visit an elderly friend, Edith Widnall. Edith is unfortunately quite ill, according to handsome young doctor Marcello Bassi (John Saxon). When Edith dies in the middle of the night, Nora runs to the nearby hospital for the doctor but is mugged and knocked out. When she comes to, she sees a woman collapse and die, stabbed in the back. But in when Nora comes to in the hospital, there's no sign of any murder, and her story is disbelieved. What happened to Nora? Was it an hallucination? Does it have something to do with the drug-impregnated cigarettes a stranger gave her? Was it a psychic memory of a murder committed by the Alphabet Killer on that spot ten years earlier? Or is the Alphabet Killer active again, looking for a "D" victim....which Ms. Davis fits quite nicely?

The acting throughout is first-rate; Roman and Saxon both carry off their parts with equal amounts of belief and questioning, as events shift kaleidoscopically. Dante de Paolo is also effective as the investigative reporter Landini, who may or may not himself be the Alphabet Killer. Bava's use of the camera and his stark lighting are truly beautiful throughout; the black and white photography is suitably moody and always gorgeous. Just like Hitchcock, Bava uses the camera to direct our attention to items which will figure largely later on, but which the characters are presently oblivious of. Bava also makes use of humor liberally, such as the hospital montage as Nora is surrounded by talking heads, and the scene where Nora boobytraps her bedroom with string and talcum powder, learning from her mysteries. The use of silhouettes is striking throughout; both used for tension and for comedy, light and shadow are used to highly atmospheric purpose in this picture.

We know we're in for a fun ride from the opening credits, as we hear the swanky sound of saxes wailing in composer Roberto Nicolosi's hit single "Furore" playing over the stock footage of TWA aircraft. The song also shows up later twice, including once on a mysterious tape recorder that keeps vanishing and reappearing. The music (absent from US release prints) does a wonderful job of setting the mood here; at times the influence of Bernard Herrman can clearly be heard. AIP extensively recut the film, eliminating the drug subplot and much of the suspense element to the picture. The disc here presents the first authorized US release of the uncut film ever.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The black and white photography comes through in a beautifully luminous anamorphic transfer; the blacks are rich and deep and the contrast is appropriate. In a film dependent on light and shadow such as this, the attention given to the transfer is paramount, and Image doesn't disappoint. There is some unfortunate speckling around reel changes and during the titles, but by and large this film looks marvelous for a cheap Italian film nearly forty years old.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoItalianno


Audio Transfer Review: The original Italian mono is supplied. There is significant hiss and some background noise, but the dialogue generally comes through clearly and with immediacy. The music suffers a little from distortion at times, but keep in mind this is a very low-budget film; this is probably as good as this source material ever sounded and is ever likely to sound. Quite satisfactory.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo and poster gallery
Extras Review: We get a decent array of extras, including extensive and informative liner notes from Tim Lucas, a Bava historian and author of a forthcoming book on Bava, as well as editor of the essential Video Watchdog magazine. An onscreen bio of Bava is included, as is a filmography. An extensive filmography for John Saxon is also presented. One of the nicest extras included is a photo and poster gallery for the film which includes a full set of the lobby cards, complete with the garish mid-60s coloration. Nothing earth-shattering here, but a very good overview of the film and its background that greatly enhance the viewing experience. Subtitles are a nicely contrasting yellow, and are removable. Chaptering is a little light for a full-length film, though.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

A highly engrossing and captivating thriller, leavened with wit and humor, that deserves to be much better known. Very highly recommended to anyone looking for a suspense film in the Hitchcock mold.

 


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