Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 17th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1963
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Mario Bava, Enzo Corbucci, Ennio De Concini, Eliana De Sabata, Mino Guerrini, Franco Prosperi
Cast: Letícia Román, John Saxon, Valentina Cortese, Titti Tomaino, Luigi Bonos, Milo Quesada, Robert Buchanan, Marta Melocco, Gustavo De Nardo
BluRay released: May 19th, 2015
Approximate running times: 92 minutes (Evil Eye), 86 minutes (The Girl Who Knew Too Much)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive (Evil Eye), 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive (The Girl Who Knew Too Much)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Evil Eye), DTS-HD Mono Italian (The Girl Who Knew Too Much),
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: Nora while on vacation in Rome witnesses a murder and when no one believes her she convinces a young doctor named Marcello to help investigate the murder. They soon discover a connection between this murder and a handful of unsolved murders known as ‘The Alphabet Murders’. Will Nora uncover the truth before she becomes the killers’ next victim?
There is no denying the influence that The Girl Who Knew Too Much had on the Giallo (Italian thrillers) genre. Content wise, this film would feature many things that would become staples of the genre, which would ultimately reach its apex during the early part of the 1970’s. A few of these staples included a protagonist who is forced to become an amateur sleuth when they find themselves caught up in a murder mystery. And blacked gloved killer who weapon of choice is a knife that in the finale reveals their modus operandi to the protagonist.
At the time that The Girl Who Knew Too Much was being made co-productions between countries were very common and for this Italian / U.S. co-production the U.S. end would be picked up by American International Pictures, who a few years before had released Mario Bava’s Black Sunday theatrically. This time around however for its U.S. release under the title Evil Eye, this film would feature much more than a brand new score. Additional scenes would be added for this alternate version, which also took on a decidedly different tone that was far less ominous and the humor is more heavy handed.
Also when discussing The Girl Who Knew Too Much one must not overlook the influence that the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock had on this film. Its title is clearly a play on the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much. Another thing that reminds one of Hitchcock include this film’s heroine Nora, who in many ways mirror’s ‘the icy blonde’ that has since become synonymous with Hitchcock’s legacy.
Though the opening moments of this film feels a bit rushed, things start to settle in once the family friend that Nora is visiting dies in the middle of the night. Fortunately after this slight hiccup things from there on out move along briskly and there is no more lulls along the way. It is during this pivotal moment that Bava establishes the tension that is firmly overtaking every facet of this film’s protagonist’s life. He uses the traumatic event of Nora witnessing the death of woman, who only moments later disappears into thin air to create a state where she is caught between reality and paranoia. Needless to say by the time that this film’s finale rolls around she is on the brink of a break down.
This film would mark Bava’s final film shot in black and white. And visually the film is filled with striking imagery that has a Gothic vibe to it and at times is reminiscent to the style associated with Noir cinema. His use of shadow and light, especially the latter is astounding. And of course this film’s most memorable moments are all the moments involving murder or terrorizing this film’s protagonist. Most notably the aforementioned scene where she witnesses a woman being murdered.
The most surprising aspect of this film is the performance from its leading lady Letícia Román whose all too brief career also included a starring role for another iconic film director Russ Meyer and that film was Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. She gives a very convincing performance of a woman on verge of nervous breakdown. Cast opposite her is John Saxon (Tenebrae), in the role of Dr. Marcello Bassi, Nora’s love interest and her partner in crime solving. He turns in strong performance that far exceeds the limitations of what is essentially a supportive character. Another performance of note is Valentina Cortese (Le amiche) in the role of Laura Craven-Torrani, the mysterious neighbor next door.
Evil Eye and The Girl Who Knew Too Much comes on a 50 GB dual layer (41.5 GB) BluRay. Both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. These transfers that were used for this release from Kino are comparable to the transfers that were used for Arrow Video’s release. And here is a recap of my thoughts on Arrow Video transfers. “Both versions exhibit strong black and contrast levels, shadow details is excellent, there are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural. It should be noted that the image for The Girl Who Knew Too Much is framed at a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, while the image for The Evil Eye is framed at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Besides the different framing, the AIP version has a more luminous tone, while the Italian version has slightly more print debris.”
Each version comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mix and in the case of The Girl Who Knew Too Much the language is Italian, while the Evil Eye version is in English language only. Once again the sources used for this release are comparable to the aforementioned release from Arrow Video. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Italian lanaguge track.
Extras for this release include two trailers for the film, an English language trailer under the title Evil Eye and an Italian language trailer under the title The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Rounding out the extras is an insightful audio commentary track with Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas. The audio commentary track with Tim Lucas is the same track that is also included as part of Arrow Video’s release. And it is in the extras department that the Arrow Video’s release separates itself from this release. Overall Evil Eye / The Girl Who Knew Too Much gets a solid audio / video presentation from Kino Lorber.
Note: The screenshots contained within the text of the review are from Evil Eye, while the bottom four screenshots are from The Girl Who Knew Too Much.