The Girl Who Knew Too Much

The Girl Who Knew Too Much
a.k.a. The Evil Eye
This is the film that launched the Giallo genre in Italian cinema, although it would probably be more accurate to refer to The Girl Who Knew Too Much as a proto-giallo as it is more Hitchcockian in style and does not concentrate on the sadism as much as fully fledged gialli like Profondo Rosso or What Have You Done to Solange?. Bava takes an step closer to defining the genre with Blood and Black Lace, but it only becomes clearly established with Dario Argento’s first film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with being a proto-giallo and The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a fantastic piece of Italian cinema. I’m getting a bit embarrassed now that all my reviews have been gushing with praise, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to continue the trend with this one.
Bava’s use of black and white is perfect for this film and his lighting of the interiors is particularly striking. There are a couple of stand out shots for me. The first one is of Nora Davis (played by Letítia Román) silhouetted in the doorway before being accosted by a mystery stranger. The second stand out scene is the dream-like witnessing of the murder, which establishes the “what did I really see?” common to many gialli. There is a particularly good fade between the night-time reflection of the church in a puddle to a daytime equivalent.
Although this film avoids dwelling on the murders themselves – the stabbings actually occur off screen and nora only witnesses the aftermath – there are a couple of nice grusome touches. One that particularly struck me was the realistic way that the “murderer” pulls the knife out of the victim’s back, partially dragging the body up with it as it draws out.
John Saxon is quite likeable in his role as Marcello Bassi, the amorous doctor, but Letítia Román is not the greatest actress and is perhaps the weakest element in the film. Having said that, since when has the acting ever spoiled anyone’s enjoyment of a giallo.

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