Evil Eye (La ragazza che sapeva troppo)

1963

Evil Eye (La ragazza che sapeva troppo)

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71%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 7

67%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 797

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Movie Info

Generally considered the first real giallo film, Mario Bava's stylish thriller stars Leticia Roman as Nora, who travels to Rome to visit her sick aunt. The aunt dies that night, and Nora ends up witnessing a murder. The police and kindly Dr. Bassi (John Saxon) don't believe her, since there is no body, so she goes to stay with her aunt's friends, the Cravens. Along the way, there are several more murders tied to a decade-long string of killings of victims chosen in alphabetical order by surname. The surprising ending is worth staying around for, as is an amusing supporting performance by Valentina Cortese. Bava would go on to further codify many of the giallo genre's conventions in Sei Donne per l'Assassino the following year.

Cast

Letícia Román
as Nora Davis
John Saxon
as Dottor Marcello Passi
Valentina Cortese
as Laura Traven-Torrani
Adriana Facchetti
as Sguattera della trattoria
Giovanni Di Benedetto
as Prof. Terrani

Critic Reviews for Evil Eye (La ragazza che sapeva troppo)

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Evil Eye (La ragazza che sapeva troppo)

  • Aug 12, 2017
    A little choppy and occasionally hard to follow (and this is the dubbed version) but mostly enjoyable and good older movie. The actress was very like able too.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 08, 2012
    *** out of **** "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" is a very flawed and uneven case of style over substance; but as I watched it, I was reminded of the Mario Bava films that had released before and after this one (that I had seen), and was reminded that perhaps it was the great Italian filmmaker's signature touch to blend the preposterous with the illogical with the utterly frightening and atmospheric to achieve a sort of surrealistic terror. If this is the case and if I'm indeed right; then this is a good movie. If not, then well, it isn't. I'm not really sure; the movie left me with such mixed emotions that by the end, I just decided to let it be what it is, and praise it for impressing me in certain areas other than others, where it on the contrary tended to disappoint. I love Bava, but this is neither his best nor worst movie. It would make sense, given that even he did not look back on it and think the happiest of thoughts. But good or not, the film deserves attention and respect; so I'm going to try and do it some justice. Not to be confused by an Adam West film from 1969 of the same name, this Bava outing concerns a beautiful young American during her visit to Rome. She is Nora (Leticia Roman), staying at her aunt's house and meeting up with an old lady friend of hers while she's at it. The film certainly doesn't take much time to get started; as a night from hell soon descends upon poor Nora, resulting in the mysterious death of her elderly relative, although that's just the beginning. Nora tries to get some air by taking a nightly stroll, which is interrupted by both a psychotic mental case who mugs Nora of her hand-bag, and a shady and cold-blooded murder that involves a woman being stabbed in the back with the blade of a knife. The assailant is not seen; although Nora is traumatized on the spot, thus explaining why she faints in the few minutes that follow. She awakens, presumably the next day, to doctors and detectives who refuse to buy into her grotesque story; dismissing what she claims to be murder as merely a delusion. This is kind of reasonable, given the fact that she appears to be some sort of nut-case by the time she's come to her senses, but this is also understandable. It's not easy, being a normal person who doesn't see much action at all, when one is exposed to random acts of cruel and heartless violence. Nevertheless, there is one person who believes Nora; a kindly man named Dr. Marcello. He takes Nora on tours around Rome and indulges in what she saw that one night; and together, with the help of an off-beat reporter, they shall try and solve a series of brutal murders that could very much be related to the one that Nora was witness to. If they can find the killer, she can clear her name and the insanity that the professional folk have since assigned to it. Bava had extensive experience as a cinematographer before he ventured into the world of film directing, although I think his past experiences led to his success in a whole other field of the art. He's clearly skilled with a camera; with every frame representing his gift for the thoughtful realization of atmosphere, tension, and fear. Shot in glorious black-and-white, there are dark hallways and gloomy day-time sequences galore; although when the lights go out, there is no knight in shining armor. The characters must make use of their own wits; that is assuming they have any at all. Thematically and stylistically, I like the film; but when it comes down to the meat and bare essentials of the final product, it's a bit of a let-down. There are sensational sequences, and there is outstanding camerawork and suspense; but the actors have little-to-no chemistry, and almost appear to be sleepwalking through their respective roles. With that being said, that also entails that they do their job; but that's it, and a movie like this needs something more than that. At the end of the day, Bava does make up for whatever shortcomings the film has with some significantly praise-worthy strengths, and it will certainly pique the interest of Bava fans of all ages, but let it be known that this is far - very far - from the director's finest work. He was still developing his style when he made it, and as it would appear, his scripts as well. "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" is often credited as an essential, pioneer picture for the Giallo genre of horror; although I can't figure out what it invented, or what it changed. Oh, well; Bava came around eventually, and made better films. I enjoyed his work here, and it does what it wants to do; if only for the most part. I must acknowledge its strengths and its weaknesses, and that's just what I've done; and what I'll continue to do.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 14, 2011
    The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) is director Mario Bava's gleeful homage to Hitchcock; and one of the earliest examples of the Italian Giallo sub-genre of horror/suspense cinema that would go on to inspire an entire generation of horror filmmakers throughout the subsequent two decades. If you're at all familiar with the work of director Dario Argento for example, then you can see the roots of films like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975) and Tenebrae (1982) already being established by the skillful blending of low-key thrills, character development and good old fashioned murder mystery, as captured by Bava in this excellent, slow-burning suspense piece. Although it may take some viewers a while to settle into the overall tone of the film - with those first few scenes presenting us with a veritable bombardment of information, both narrative and thematic, before the first murder has even taken place - the eventual unravelling of the plot, and Bava's excellent direction eventually draw us deeper into a story that is here punctuated by a charmingly romantic subplot, a miniature travelogue around the tourist traps of Rome, some subtle moments of almost slapstick humour, and the director's always inventive use of visual experimentation. The usual Gialli trademarks are already beginning to take shape here, with the film focusing on a foreigner - in this case, twenty-year old American student Nora Davis - who travels to Rome to visit her ailing aunt and inadvertently witnesses a murder. Alongside this central plot device, which would be utilised by Argento in many of his greatest films, such as the three aforementioned, we also have the ideas of sight and perception; with the central protagonist unintentionally witnessing something that is shrouded in elements of doubt and abstraction, and thus having to prove what she saw to sceptical police officers and those nearest to her. Bava's film is also given a neat touch of self-referential sub-text; opening with a shot of the central character herself reading a Giallo murder mystery, casting some doubt as to whether or not the film plays out in the literal sense, or whether it is a merely a constructed reality, taking place in her own mind as she reads the book to herself. This is a thread of interpretation that is examined throughout by the filmmaker, with the title of the book itself, "The Knife", having an importance on the plot that perhaps surreptitiously suggest some element of imagined fantasy. Once we get through those hectic opening sequences, which introduce the characters and a number of potential sub-plots that are essentially window-dressing to throw us off the trail, the film settles into the murder mystery aspect and the burgeoning relationship between Nora and her young doctor friend, Marcello Bassi. Through the relationship, Bava introduces a subtle comment on the Holmes vs. Watson partnership recast as a romantic dilemma, whilst also creating space within his story to let the audience catch up and think about the potential clues already collected in order to lead us to the eventual discovery of the killer's identity. The use of sight and Bava's directorial slight-of-hand is used meticulously for the initial murder sequence; with the director creating a literal feeling of hazy disconnection and a distorted perspective through a somewhat dated visual effect and the always masterful use of light and shadow. Although the actual effect - which replicates the look of ripples on a pond - might lead a more contemporary audience to giggle or cringe, it does tie in with the continual use of water-symbolism in Bava's work, from the final story in The Three Faces of Fear/Black Sabbath (1963), and A Bay of Blood (1971) most famously, as well as a somewhat cheap gag about marijuana cigarettes that will pay off in the film's closing moments. Again, the use of humour taps into the spirit of Hitchcock, with intrigue, voyeurism, suspense and murder being reduced to mere complications in the continual romantic wooing of Nora by the charming Dr. Bassi. Nevertheless, the thriller aspects are what we remember most clearly; with Bava's always atmospheric direction, iconography and ability to create tension from the slightest movement of the camera. Once the credits have rolled, we release just how subtle much of Bava's use of sight and perception actually was; with a number of scenes leading on from a moment of confusion by the central character, in which she thinks she sees something that turns out to be nothing of the sort. Again, it shows the director playfully undermining the central character; presenting Nora as someone unable to trust her own eyes, and thus, unable to be trusted with the ultimate unravelling of the plot. Nonetheless, Bava also succeeds in throwing us into this enigmatic mystery; undermining our own perspective of the story by showing us important information early on, allowing us to feel superior to Nora with our benefit of a forewarning, only to then cast further doubt in our mind as the gallery of suspects mount up. Though still something of a minor work for Bava, The Girl Who Knew Too Much is undoubtedly great; enlivened by the fine performances from the two leads, John Saxon (a cult actor with an impeccable list of credits) and the delightful Leticia Roman (I'm honestly quite smitten), and absolutely brimming with style and energy. The gag at the end is in-keeping with Bava's work, but certainly doesn't lessen the impact of the more thrilling scenes that came before, or the air of grand mystery and excitement suggested by his excellent approach to editing, cinematography and design. Beware that the film also exists under the title The Evil Eye; re-edited by Bava for the American market as more of a light-hearted romp (Tarantino calls it's a masterpiece). The version reviewed here is the original Italian version, a minor masterpiece of Giallo thrills, cinematic abstractions and an old-fashioned approach to storytelling that grips us from the start and never lets us go.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 18, 2010
    cute, cute, cute ... the narration is a great touch
    Adam M Super Reviewer

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