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Default Girl Who Knew Too Much, The




Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: December 8, 2000

Released by: Image Entertainment
Release date: October 3, 2000
MSRP $24.99
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9:Yes



Mario Bava's La Ragazza che sapeva troppo was originally released in the US under the title The Evil Eye. The film is an excellent mixture of elements from Hitchcock, elements from the Italian giallo and black comedy. In their ongoing DVD collection dedicated to Mario Bava, Image Entertainment has released this excellent Mario Bava film in its original Italian version under the title The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

The Story

inline Image Young Nora Davis (Leticia Roman), an avid fan of murder mystery novels, is on a plane headed for Rome. She's going to Rome for a vacation and to also visit an old family friend Ms. Ethel Widnall. Once Nora arrives at the old woman's home she is greeted by Marcello Bassi (John Saxon), who's a doctor currently treating Ms. Ethel since she's taken ill. Marcello tells Nora not to worry, but he's concerned that Ms. Ethel's heart rate is very high. Marcello instructs Nora to call on him at the hospital should anything happen to Ms. Ethel during the night. Later that night as Nora is preparing for bed she hears Ethel call out to her from her bedroom. Nora rushes to Ethel's room to find her in great pain. Ethel gasps for her pills and Nora hastily prepares the medicine for Ms. Ethel in a glass of water. Sadly, just as Nora is about to give it to her Ms. Ethel dies.

inline Image Nora quickly tries calling the hospital where Marcello works but the line is distorted and she can't hear the person on the other end. Frightened and desperate, Nora runs outside and tries heading to the hospital, which she recalls is only a few blocks away. Unfortunately, while running down the Piazza di Spagna, Nora is spotted by a thief who viscously mugs her. During the struggle Nora is knocked to the ground and hits her head on the pavement rendering her unconscious. When Nora awakens she is startled by a loud shriek in the distance. The scream came from a woman who stumbles onto the Piazza di Spagna with a knife plunged through her back. Nora, who is still half dazed from her blow to the head, witnesses a dark figure approach the fallen woman and take the knife out of her back. Nora catches a glimpse of the man's face and the last thing she sees before blacking out is the mysterious man dragging the slain woman back into the darkness.

inline Image In the morning Nora is discovered by a Police officer and is taken to the hospital where she's treated. Nora explains to the doctors what she saw last night in the Piazza di Spagna, but the doctors brush it off as a hallucination brought on by the strain of events Nora experienced. The next day at Ethel's funeral Nora meets a young woman named Laura Craven Torrani (Valentina Cortese) who happens to live across from the Piazza di Spagna. The two quickly become friends and Nora is invited to Laura's home. While visiting Nora is asked by Laura to stay at her home and house sit while she's away and after some hesitation Nora shyly agrees. However, Nora is still troubled by the murder she's certain she witnessed in the Piazza di Spagna and that night while staying at Laura's home she receives a phone call from a stranger who threatens her. With Nora so involved in the murder mystery Marcello becomes worried about her safety and soon she convinces him to help her solve the mystery of the alphabet killer before he makes her victim "D".

inline Image Mario Bava was one of those directors who seldom did things straight faced and to specifics. It's probably that aspect that makes his films so damn endearing and memorable when there have been scores of other gialli made out of Italy. Case in point - The Girl Who Knew Too Much is an interesting mixture of the popular pulp giallo and Hitchcock's American's abroad theme, resulting in a very clever and stylish black comedy. The Girl Who Knew Too Much (released in the States as The Evil Eye by AIP) is considered one of the first of the Italian gialli and it's obvious from watching this film repeatedly that Mario Bava had an interesting time making it. The film is full of references and bits of comedy mostly occurring in the relationship between Nora Davis (Leticia Roman) and Marcello Bassi (John Saxon). But even though The Girl Who Knew Too Much features some comedy bits the film is a more than competent thriller that is aided by an excellent score by composer Roberto Nicolosi. Nicolosi's score is very effective and can highlight both the ominous qualities during the suspense scenes and lighthearted qualities in the more relaxed comedic scenes.

inline Image The elements of comedy in The Girl Who Knew Too Much undoubtedly rubbed off on other Italian director's such as Dario Argento who also tends to inject some comedy into his films. In particular, Argento's Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) features similar humor between the two leads - David Hemmings and Daria Nicoladi in a strange reversal of roles. In The Girl Who Knew Too Much, it's the female lead Leticia Roman who plays detective, but in Deep Red it's the male lead, David Hemmings, who catches a glimpse of a murder in progress and decides to solve it with little help from any kind of authority figure. Of course comedy isn't the only thing Argento derived from The Girl Who Knew Too Much, there's also the scenario where the eyewitness to the murder believes she/he's seen something more than just a murder. Indeed this holds true for The Girl Who Knew Too Much as well as Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, which freely borrows from the former.

Of the actors in The Girl Who Knew Too Much, you are quite correct in hearing that this stars John Saxon. Though Saxon may be most familiar to American audiences as troubled Nancy's (Heather Lagenkamp) father in Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street, he was appearing in Italian horror films long before that, including Argento's Tenebrae and Cannibal Apocalypse among others. Interestingly enough, as Tim Lucas describes in the liner notes, Saxon and Bava didn't have such a great relationship off camera, which is sad seeing how Saxon is such a talented actor. Regardless, I still think both performances from Leticia Roman and John Saxon are very strong and one can almost spot the resemblance Roman has to Barbara Steele, especially her eyes. The Girl Who Knew Too Much is an entertaining film thanks to its good mixture of horror, mystery and comedy I highly recommend it.

Image Quality

inline Image Image Entertainment present's Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much letterboxed at 1.66:1 in a new 16x9 enhanced transfer. Without question this is a very nice looking transfer for The Girl Who Knew Too Much. The print used for the transfer was in good condition with a minimal amount of speckling and scratches to distract the viewer. The transfer is generally sharp and consistent throughout and the image seldom took on a soft appearance. The transfer also exhibits some mild grain throughout but it never becomes a distraction. My one complaint about the transfer is that the contrast seems a bit too high and as a result whites are a little on the harsh side. A quick adjustment to the contrast fixed this and it's not such a big deal. Except for one or two instances the black level was deep and solid, and whites were clean. For its age The Girl Who Knew Too Much looks very good and kudos to Image for presenting it in anamorphic widescreen.

Sound

The Girl Who Knew Too Much is presented in Dolby Digital Mono in its original Italian language. Yellow English subtitles are provided and can be turned on or off. This is a fairly limited mono mix and Roberto Nicolosi's score sounded muffled at times. Dialogue was clear throughout and I didn't hear any background noise or hiss.

Supplemental Material

inline Image For supplements Image Entertainment has included The Girl Who Knew Too Much's Italian theatrical trailer and it is 16x9 enhanced to boot. The disc also features a small still gallery containing some lobby cards and promotional artwork for Evil Eye. There is also a filmography and biography for Mario Bava and a filmography for John Saxon.

Final Thoughts

Once again Image Entertainment has done a fine job presenting another one of Mario Bava's masterpieces on DVD. The presentation is good and the price is more than reasonable. I highly recommend The Girl Who Knew Too Much to Hitchcock and Mario Bava fans, as well as fans of thrillers with a dash of comedy thrown in.

Rating

Image Quality - B+
Sound - B
Supplements - C+

Technical Info.
  • Running time - 1 hour 26 minutes
  • B&W
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • 10 Chapter stops
  • Italian Dolby Digital Mono (Removable English Subtitles)

Supplements
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Other Pictures

 

 

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