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La Ragazza che Sapeva Troppo

The Girl who Knew too Much

Italy 1963
produced by
Massimo De Rita for Galatea
directed by Mario Bava
starring Letícia Román, John Saxon, Dante DiPaolo, Valentina Cortese, Giovanni Di Benedetto, Chana Coubert, Titti Tomaino Film, Coronet, Luigi Bonos, Milo Quesada, Robert Buchanan, Marta Melocco, Gustavo De Nardo, Lucia Modugno, Franco Morici, Virginia Doro
written by Ennio De Concini, Enzo Corbucci, Eliana De Sabata, Mino Guerrini, Franco Prosperi, Mario Bava, music by Roberto Nicolosi, song performed by Adriano Celentano

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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American tourist Nora's (Leticia Román) first day in Rome is nothing short of a nightmare: First, at the airport, a drugsmuggler (Milo Quesada) almost makes her his (ignorant) accomplice, then her aunt (Chana Coubert) dies, then she's robbed, and finally she stumbles across a murder victim (Marta Melocco) and only narrowly escapes the murderer herself. The next day, she is found passed out on the square where the murder has happened, but there's no dead body and all traces of the crime are gone. Everybody thinks she has just imagined the whole thing, only a young doctor, Marcello (John Saxon), at least shows an interest in her.

At the funeral of her aunt, Nora meets Laura (Valentina Cortese), a friend of her aunt's who just happens to live in an apartment next to where Nora witnessed the murder, and she invites Nora to stay in that apartment as housesitter, since she and her husband will be out the next week or so. What Nora doesn't know is that Laura's husband professor Torrani (Giovanni Di Benedetto) was actually the man she saw at the scene of the murder leaning over the victim ...

Laura's apartment is the perfect base for Nora to start her investigations, and she soon finds out that a series of murders, the so called "alphabet murders" (the killer picked his victims by the first letter of their surnames) has happened in the neighbourhood ten years ago. And the murder Nora has witnessed would fit right into the pattern of these murders ... it's just, the killer of the murders had been found, convicted and had since died.

Nora hooks up with an ex-journalist who back in the days covered the case, Landini (Dante di Paolo), and who tells her he has since had serious doubts about the identity of the killer, whom he helped to track down back in the day even. However, a famous psychiatrist working on the case blocked all further investigations - professor Torrani. A short time later, Nora finds Landini dead, an apparent suicide, and beside him there's a note in which he confesses to the murders.

Now that should cover everything, right?

Wrong, because eventually, Nora finds a note in the newspaper about a murdered woman that was found wherever, a murdered woman that just happened to be the woman whose murder Nora witnessed, and that murder victim just happens to be the daughter of the man originally accused for the alphabet murders, who apparently has come to riches by blackmailing someone - apparently not Landini, who didn't have any money to his name to begin with.

Laura has returned to the apartment, to give Nora moral support, and Laura has brought her husband professor Torrani - whom Nora only meets though with a knife in his back. Turns out he wasn't the murderer at all but only helped the actual killer, Laura - who might seem nice for the longest time but actually is completely bonkers, and who now prepares to kill Nora - after all her surname would fit perfectly into Laura's alphabet murders -, when she is shot in the back by her dying husband.

 

In many respects, this shows cinematographer-turned-director Mario Bava at the height of his game: Every shot is exquisitely set up, the lights are set in a perfect and imaginative sort of way, the cameaangles are unusual yet fascinating, and everything looks super-elegant but at the same time hip. And all of this perfect camerawork is helped by a fluent editing job and everything does make sense within the story.

And speaking of the story: The whole thing might seem over-constructed and over-convoluted, but it is told in a light-footed way and doesn't shy away from irony, either, plus in structure, the film is pretty much the prototype of a giallo (= a distinctly Italian form of the whodunnit often applying horror motives), a genre that would conquer Italian genre cinema later the decade.

However, The Girl who Knew too Much is still not a perfect film, it does show certin weaknesses in narrative logic and storytelling, isn't exactly strong on character development, and the climax is a bit on the anti-climactic side.

But that said, The Girl who Knew too Much is still a fascinating watch ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD