The Girl Who Knew Too Much

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

We’ve all experienced terrible holidays in foreign locales. Cockroaches the size of mice scurrying across the floor, construction work starting up at 6am right outside the window, ‘cultural cuisine’ that leaves a lot to be desired. But no matter how terrible your experiences may have been spare a thought for Nora, the titular character in Mario Bava’s last black & white film, and the movie that launched a thousand Gialli.

She is a young American girl, on a plane for her first visit to Rome, ostensibly to see her bedridden aunt but also to explore The Eternal City. Full of hope for a glorious Summer, before the day is out her aunt is dead, she’s been mugged, knocked to the ground and in her groggy state been the sole witness to a murder. What’s worse is that no one believes her story about the murder, putting it down to hallucinations brought on by the fall and an overactive imagination brought on by reading too many pulp thrillers, only beefy Marcello, played by the angular John Saxon is on her side.

But Nora cannot let it go and proceeds to investigate on her own and needless to say – this is a Mario Bava picture after all – she gets herself into all sorts of trouble along the way, and even risks becoming the next victim of the mysterious Piazza di Spagna murderer.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

Not nearly as bloody as Bava’s later work this is nonetheless an enjoyable film that raises and maintains a disturbing sense of fear all the way to the killer’s reveal, a moment that does not feel cheap when it eventually arrives. Bava also does a great job in exploring Nora’s growing paranoia, her sense of gnawing mistrust for more and more people around her all the while keeping the audience guessing as to just how much of what she believes is the truth.

The title of the film, among other tropes, gives this away as an homage to Hitchcock. Bava has a lot of fun working with such a simple, and even slightly silly, script but as with Hitch he can spin gold out of even the most threadbare premise. It also comes as no surprise that while Nora is the protagonist she’s not a particularly sympathetic character. You’d imagine someone who’s been through so much would generate a degree of empathy but she’s an ice queen, cut from the same cloth as the bevy of blondes that populated the master’s works.

An important film in the history of Italian cinema, well worth a watch.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much aka The Evil Eye – directed by Mario Bava (1963)

In Short
A tourist sees a murder on her first night in Rome but no one she tells will believe her. Did she imagine it or is something being deliberately hidden from her?
Trailer here