The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) | Mario Bava’s Hitchcockian ABC of terror gets a re-mastered HD release
What Does It Want? What Will Satisfy Its Cravings?
Young American secretary Nora Davis (Letícia Román) loves reading murder mystery novels, but never dreamed she’d end up in a real life case. Whilst visiting an elderly aunt in Rome, she witnesses a murder on the steps of Piazza di Spagna. But with no body, the police and a young doctor, Marcello Bassi (John Saxon), refuse to believe her story. Nora then starts researching a 10-year-old case involving the Alphabet Killer, only to end up his next intended victim. Can she convince Marcello that she isn’t imagining things before the bodies start piling up?
The first true Giallo?
Mario Bava is credited with inventing two of cinemas most iconic genres: the giallo (in La Ragazza Che Sapeva Troppo aka The Girl Who Knew Too Much) and the slasher (A Bay of Blood aka Twitch of the Death Nerve). This inventive 1963 thriller was a new direction for the director, who had previously helmed the gothic shocker Black Sunday (1960) and peplum adventures like Hercules in the Haunted World (1961). Intended as an homage to Hitchcock and a macabre twist on fluffy European vacation romcoms like 1954’s Three Coins in the Fountain, La Ragazza Che Sapeva Troppo ended up laying the blueprint for all those gory Italian thrillers that followed in its wake. Now it was the killings that took star billing rather than the mystery, and Bava would continue to hone this stylistic device from his 1964 shocker Blood and Black Lace to 1971’s A Bay of Blood (the ultimate slasher template for Friday the 13th and its ilk). Indeed, if it weren’t for this for The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Dario Argento may never have had the career he’s had.
Bava’s striking chiaroscuro lighting and masterful camerawork certainly comes to the fore in this, his last black and white feature, while his innate style makes this thriller something special indeed. The original Italian film was re-edited, re-scored and re-titled as Evil Eye in the US by American International Pictures, and is much darker in tone as it dispenses with much of the comedy that Bava envisaged. Which begs the question: which version is the better? Well, I prefer the moody original, although I love how Les Baxter’s score on Evil Eye makes the comedic elements shine through. Bava’s next effort, Black Sabbath, was also re-edited for the US market (read my review of the Arrow release here).
Star Letícia Román ditched acting five years after making this film and went on to make her fortune in the property market. BTW: The catchy theme tune, Furore, is sung by Italy’s best-selling male singer Adriano Celentano.
THE UK DUAL FORMAT RELEASE
Digitally re-mastered from the original pre-print film elements, Arrow presents the film in both its original Italian version (La Ragazza Che Sapeva Troppo) and the longer US cut, entitled Evil Eye. Both versions contain new English subtitle track, and a High Rising featurette in which filmmakers Luigi Cozzi and Richard Stanley and authors Alan Jones and Mikel Koven reflect on Mario Bava’s first true giallo.
• High Definition Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentation of The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Evil Eye
• Uncompressed 2.0 mono PCM audio for both versions
• Optional English subtitles on both titles
• Audio commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas (this was originally included in the Anchor Bay/Starz DVD box-set release in 2007)
• Introduction by Alan Jones (also on the Anchor Bay/Starz release)
• Remembering the Girl: Interview with John Saxon (also on the Anchor Bay/Starz release)
• International and US trailers
• Reversible Sleeve featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kier-La Janisse