Bava pays explicit homage to Hitchcock in this fun, mostly light
An American girl vacationing in Rome witnesses what might be a
murder (or is it her overactive imagination, spurred on by her love
of cheap mystery novels?). And before you know it, she's the
possible target of a serial killer.
The black and white photography is beautiful, but Bava tones his
style down just a bit, and it works; the photography compliments
the story, without swamping it,.
There are weak spots, like an annoying voice over that insists on
explaining what the images are making very clear by themselves,
and performances that are uneven (especially in supporting roles).
But, the bottom line is, if it wasn't in Italian, one could even believe
this was a Hitchcock film, which is a pretty high compliment...
on June 13, 2002
Many fans of director Mario Bava seem to underrate this film because it isn't as violent or cynical as his later film BLOOD AND BLACK LACE. Personally, I find that to be one of the things that reccomends the film to me; that the film isn't a bloodbath full of loathsome people where the only interest is in seeing how spectacularly unpleasant their demises will be. Although there are holes and improbablilites in the plot, this is generally a suspenseful, humorous film, solidly anchored by the appealing performance of Leticia Roman as the heroine, Nora Davis, an American tourist visiting an old family friend and falling into the middle of a terrifying mystery involving a serial killer who has been attacking women on or near Rome's famous Spanish Steps for almost a decade. Nora witnesses what may have been the latest murder shortly after being attacked by a mugger, so people suspect that she may have imagined the whole thing, but she knows otherwise, and with the help of a friendly doctor (played very nicely by John Saxon), she sets out to prove it.
The result is a stylish, entertaining thriller, full of moody atmosphere and eerie set-pieces, such as Nora's rondevous with someone who can help her solve the mystery in an empty but brightly-lit apartment and the harrowing sequence that begins with the death of the family friend, continues with the attack by the mugger on Nora, and ends with her coming to to witness the murder in the Plaza d'Espana, full of rain-slicked streets and moody shadows. Here, Bava proves himself as stylish as anything in Hitchcock, and maybe more so. There is another shot that Hitch would have loved, with a group of nuns in elaborate habits hovering over Nora in a hospital bed, moving away to reveal her face; from overhead, it resembles the blooming of a big, goofy flower. This one of several subtle touches of humor that lighten the proceedings without ever disturbing the forward movement of the plot or lessening the tension. Indeed the film is top-notch in pretty much every area; stylish art direction, excellent costumes by Tania Grani, and a great score by Roberto Nicolosi. One should also say an extra word for the leading ladia, Leticia Roman; she bears a faint resemblance to Natalie Wood, and like that actress, she brings a quiet intelligence and intensity to her performance. Hitchcock would probably have liked her blonde beauty and appreciated her talent as well. But Bava got there first and got a first-rate performance out of her.
It's nice to see a smart, sympathetic woman at the center of a thriller, a heroine as opposed to simply a victim . . .
on August 30, 2001
In the liner notes by Tim Lucas (which are as usual
the strongest and most interesting entry in the bonus
section) we learn that Bava only reluctantly accepted
to direct this movie. Nevertheless, the result is
The plot evolves around Nora Dralston, a lover of "Gialli"
who travels to Rome for vacation but wakes up in a nightmare
which forces her to solve a murder mystery. The plot is
quite artificial, but that goes for most movies of this
It is Bava's direction which makes this movie an unforgettable
experience. Like Hitchcock (to whom not only the title pays
hommage), Bava is in the entire movie in full possession of
all the means at his disposition, he always finds
the right camera angle, the right shot to propel the story
and to create an extremely intense atmosphere of fear and
threat. Bava contrived almost surreal scenes such as an empty
appartment with swinging light bulbs and an eerie voice from
a tape recorder. The scene when Nora gets mugged at the totally
deserted Piazza di Spagna and witnesses the crime is one of
the most memorable scenes I have ever watched. In order
to provide the viewers with a little relief from the thrills
he has created, Bava inserts quite a lot of comic moments.
The movie has definitely had an enormous impact on movie makers
around the world. Most clearly, "The Girl who knew to much"
reveals the influence Bava's work had on Dario Argento.
E.g., the relationship between Marcus Daly and Gianna Brezzi
in "Deep Red" is somewhat reminiscent of the one between
Nora and Dr. Bassi in "The Girl ...".
This movie would have deserved a better release than the one
given by Image. The transfer seems a little too dark and too
grainy and could have been a little sharper. The master was -
with some exceptions - quite clean. The sound is clear.
This movie is highly recommended and the DVD is a must for everybody with an interest in Italian thrillers.
on June 15, 2001
Another entry in the marvelous Mario Bava collection from Image Entertainment, with Tim Lucas' informative liner notes. I agree with everything the other reviewers noted. I have a few observations in addition:
1) Despite Mr. Lucas' claim that Bava threw out funny stuff and made the film dark, I and my wife found this film very humourous! It is one of those rare thrillers with actual wit and charm, without overtly comedic elements, from droll narration, to an impeccably timed comic performance by the much underrated John Saxon. I even found the drug-laced cigarette bit an extremely witty and clever framing device.
2) While not as incredible as BLACK SUNDAY, the cinematography and editing of this film are still light-years ahead of many contemporary movies, which goes without saying in a Mario Bava production. The "hospital wakeup" scene with nun's habits arranged like shifting flower petals, and the blurred, out-of-focus visuals in the flashbacks of the journalist-suspect are only two of the numerous examples.
3) It could be my suspicious nature but A LOT of FAMOUS filmmakers seem to have RIPPED OFF this movie. The sequence in which Nora lays out a trap for the murderer is strongly reminiscent of Wes Craven's NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. (Also with Saxon, cast because Craven remembered how good he was in THE GIRL?) The entire final sequence as well as plot points involving the identity of the murderer are almost exactly reproduced in the much better-known Dario Argento's BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE. And those who remember and admire the "beams-of-light-through-bullet-holes" scene in Coen Brothers' BLOOD SIMPLE may be startled to find that Bava has already done it in THE GIRL 25 years ago! And... the list can go on. But the POINT is, MARIO BAVA HAS DONE IT FIRST! HE is the true original.
Oh well, Bava and screenwriters have also "borrowed" the "alphabet murder" trick from Agatha Christie's ABC MURDERS, although they do acknowledge their debt to Christie in the narration.
At any rate, I highly recommend this film to not only fans of a Hitchcockian murder mystery, but also to (despite Mr. Lucas' liner notes)those who are looking for a cleverly constructed romantic thriller, with a good sense of humour. (Okay, Leticia Roman is no Audrey Hepburn, but who cares?)
on April 18, 2001
In my humble opinion, a movie like Mario Bava's THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH has a lot more cinematographical value than the majority of today movie productions. Even if it's a black & white movie, even if it was filmed in 1962 and even if the actors are not big Hollywood stars. I cherish this kind of movie because films like THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH were responsible a long time ago for the passion I have developed for the seventh art.
Firstly, the screenplay is absolutely delirious. Just think that Leticia - NORA - Román, in the first 20 minutes of the movie, has the chance to
- Meet a high-class marijuana dealer in her flight to Rome.
- Mourn the death of her aunt in her first night in Italy.
- Witness, during the same night, the murder of a young woman while running to the hospital.
With a plot like this, one has hardly the time to admire the sense of humor of Mario Bava or appreciate the voice of the italian crooner Adriano Celentano as musical background of THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH.
If you want some beef in a movie, Mario Bava is also your man. You can spend a lot of time discussing the psychological implications of THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. After all, you don't see so often in a film a young girl going to bed after having carefully built a spider nest around herself !
The copy presented by Image is for once of excellent quality. Bonus features, apart of a booklet prepared by the always interesting Mario Bava specialist - Tim Lucas - , consist in the american trailer and a photo and poster gallery. Meager.
A DVD zone movie lovers only.
on March 5, 2002
While it certainly isn't MARIO BAVA at his best, THE GIRL WHO KNEW TO MUCH is a stylish and unusual thriller which pre-dates BLOOD AND BLACK LACE as one of the earliest examples of the 'giallo' style. No other country but Italy could produced a film with such a unique feeing and 'look'.
The VERY attractive Leticia Romain is excellent as the niave yet plucky heroine who tries to unravel something she witnessed after being mugged. Was it a murder, a dream, or an 'ectoplasmic projection' of a crime committed in the same spot 10 years earlier?
The black and white photography enhances the beauty of Rome and the under-rated John Saxon provides the love interest, some humour and a possible suspect as the doctor who befriends 'Nora' when she arrives in Italy.
A superb unsung milestone in cinema thriller history.
on October 29, 2002
This is not a horror film even though it was once shown in America as "The Evil Eye". Instead, it's a very tame little mystery with Bava's giallo atmosphere and little else. An "American" girl (Italian actress Leticia Roman) comes to Rome to visit an old family friend who up and dies on her. She then witnesses a murder but there's no body to back her up to the police. So she starts her own investigation ala Nancy Drew style. A bland John Saxon plays a doctor who believes her and provides clues to the mystery. Lots of creepy set-ups but no action keep this one from being as good as it could have been. Not bad as long as you don't expect too much but it was way too dull for me.
on October 30, 2000
One of the better mystery/suspense entries in the Mario Bava filmography from the early 60's. Very atmospheric piece about an American (Leticia Roman--who also starred with Elvis in G.I. Blues) who travels to Rome to visit an ailing aunt and becomes involved in a web of mysterious/brutal killings. The film also stars American actor John Saxon. The black and white, widescreen picture is very nice and clean and the audio is adequate, as well. If you appreciate great cinematography (Bava's roots), in addition to a good murder mystery, you can't go wrong here. This is the unrated, international version in Italian with English subtitles. Enjoy!
on April 20, 2001
This is a highly entertaining, suspensful film which proved Mario Bava being equally effective in a modern setting as well as in a period setting. Although partially shot in English, this is the uncut Italian version with the drug references intact and the Roberto Nicolosi score which was replaced by the score for Black Sunday! Bava also was his own cinematographer.
Special features on the DVD include a Mario Bava biography, liner notes by Tim Lucas, director and cast filmographies, theatrical trailer, and a photo and poster gallery.
A wonderful DVD, highly recommended.
on June 23, 2004
This early giallo is high on style and athmosphere and one can easily see how Bava influenced Dario Argento. I myself am much more of an Argento fan then Bava but this little thriller is actually one of Bava's better outings.
The story is good and keeps you guessing until the very end and the finale is quite suspenseful.