Reviewer: James Ackland
Cat No: FCD1023
Duration: TGWKTM 86 mins/ EVIL EYE 92 mins
Subtitles: English/English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: 2.0 Mono
Black and White
GET IT NOW FROM ARROW FILMS
In Italy, way back when fun loving guys and dolls rode Vespas, wore turtle necks and smoked like they changed their crocodile shoe styles many readers would have row upon row of crime thriller novels sitting on their shelves. These books were printed with a trademark yellow cover. Giallo is yellow in English. Tales of mystery, murder and sex. Thus the genre was born. The popularity of the Giallo genre was proving so tasty that Italian filmmakers were soon being optioned stories to be translated to the cinema screen.
And to kick the genre off Mario Bava took aim (and not doubt an acknowledging nod) at none other than Alfred Hitchcock and his film The Man who knew too much (1934 and 1956). Argento and Fulcci were then to take the style in more colourful and grizzly avenues. While even using many shooting locations that Bava had recorded in this film.
You'd be forgiven if this film doesn't ring any bells. Or maybe you think you've heard about it before. No, it's not the Alfred Hitchcock Classic The MAN who knew too much. And it's certainly not a sequel to that film.
Maybe you've even seen this film and you just didn't know it.
The girl who knew too much (TGWKTM) is also filed under the title Evil eye. Evil eye released for the UK and US markets is probably the film you've seen. But it's certainly a different film. Re-scored by Les Baxter with a more bombastic music score it also has a first person narrative and adds a lighter, more comedic tone taking it from Giallo to a more straight Hollywood style murder mystery. While the inclusion of the narrative adds to the characters thoughts it changes the vibe of the film. So be sure to check out the Italian version first. Both are included in this Blu ray edition.
Nora Davis (Leticia Roman) is a young lady traveling to Rome to visit an ageing aunt. Though it doesn't really matter why she's going. It's what happens when she gets there. Before the plane even lands she's (unknowingly) smoking a marijuana cigarette. Dos this matter? Is it a play on the perceived evils of the "drug"? Stick around to find out and if it factors in to both versions of the film.
Upon arrival the nightmare unfolds. After a mugging Nora witnesses a murder on the Spanish steps, one of Rome's many beautiful landmarks. But what did she actually see and who will believe her? So many questions!!
The film then flows brilliantly into the physiological midfield of Nora trying to explain and prove what she saw. A young woman with a penchant for murder mystery novels surely can't be believed then add in the fact that there is a serial killer working his way through the alphabet and her name is NEXT! Along for the investigation is sexy doctor Marcello Bassi played by John Saxon of Enter the Dragon and Nightmare on Elm street fame.
The two embark on solving the murder, even when Nora is the unreliable witness. Through twists and turns, dead ends and false starts the pair tour Rome, bloom their burgeoning romance and as the body count continues its time work toward the inevitable climax.
Bava is shooting a beautiful picture in TGWKTM. As film director and director of photography he is simply the absolute visionary of the film. His use of camera movement and lighting is flawless. I was in awe. This was Bava's last film to be shot in Black and white and to be honest he should have done a few more as his mastery of the format and as a technician of celluloid is just stunning. The cleanness of black and white suit tales such as these. In addition his contribution to Giallo and horror, both classic and modern is cemented. So many shots replicated in slasher and thriller genre films is without doubt indebted to Bava. Even the well worn trope of paranoid female protagonist is confirmed here.
Polanski must have been watching closely as I can see visual similarities in Repulsion, made only 2 years later (1965).
The importance of this film may have been overlooked for some time. While story and outcome are a bit muddled, the visionary skill and execution are amazing and the ripples created from this film can still be felt today.
Both versions of the film are in a mono 2.0 mix. Nice and easy.
Probably the most stunning black and white film I've recently seen. Just look at the screen shots!!This blu ray is lovely restored and presented in a 1.66:1 for TGWKTM and 1.78:1 for Evil eye. Black is BLACK! White is WHITE!
All About the Girl –Fellow filmmakers reflect on Mario Bava’s classic giallo
John Saxon interview
Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kier-La Janisse
The reviewer who knew too much: Mario Bava wasn't a huge fan of the plot itself and focused more on the technical aspect of the film. This doesn't hurt the film in my opinion as its just beautiful to look at.