Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 22nd, 2014
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: November 17th, 2014
Approximate running times: 86 minutes (The Girl Who Knew Too Much), 92 minutes (Evil Eye)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Girl Who Knew Too Much), 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Evil Eye)
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian (The Girl Who Knew Too Much), LPCM Mono English (Evil Eye)
Subtitles: English, English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £13.99 (UK)
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.
The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Evil Eye come on a 50 GB dual layer (45.9 GB) BluRay. Both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. 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 LPCM 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. Quality wise The Girl Who Knew Too Much is the stronger of these two audio mixes. And though it has some mild background noise, said background noise is not as prominent as it is on audio track for Evil Eye. Dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. And though these are not the most dynamic of tracks, when it comers to more ambient aspects of the soundtrack things sound very good throughout. Also included with this release are removable English and English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include an introduction to the film with author / critic Alan Jones (3 minutes 38 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), International (2 minutes 37 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and U.S. trailers for the film (2 minutes 9 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), an interview with John Saxon (9 minutes 38 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a featurette titled ‘All About the Girl’ (21 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian and English with English subtitles) with comments from filmmakers Luigi Cozzi and Richard Stanley and authors Alan Jones and Mikel Koven and an audio commentary with Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas.
Topics discussed by John Saxon include how his friendship lead to him appearing in The Girl Who Knew too Much, making films in Italy and how things have changed since then, working with Mario Bava and how fans still to this day remembered him most for his work in Italian cinema. Topics discussed in the featurette ‘All About the Girl’ include Hitchcock’s influence on Bava and how this film is Bava’s most Hitchcockian, the giallo genre and The Girl Who Knew Too Much significance within this genre, Bava the technician and his legacy as a cinematographer and the critical reappraisal of his films. The audio commentary track with Tim Lucas is another insightful track that covers every area of this film in great detail.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible covert art option and a twenty eight page booklet with cast & crew credits, a lengthy essay titled ‘Somatic Incompliance: The Look of Resistance n Mario Bava’s Evil Eye’ written by Kier-La Janisse and information about this films transfer.
Also Included as part of this combo release are two DVD’s, one DVD contains, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Alana Jones introduction, the international trailer for the film, ‘All About the Girl’ featurettte and the Tim Lucas audio commentary track, while the other DVD contains, Evil Eye and the U.S. trailer for the film. Overall The Girl Who Knew Too Much gets a definitive release from Arrow Video, highly recommended.
Note: The screenshots contained within the text of the review are from The Girl Who Knew Too Much, while the bottom four screenshots are from Evil Eye.