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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
Now that should cover everything, right?
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.
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.
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
But that said, The Girl who Knew too Much is
still a fascinating watch ...