US recut version title: EVIL EYE

90 minutes (original Italian version)
92 minutes (US recut version)

There is a supreme irony in finding that the film generally regarded as the foundation stone of giallo, Italy's garish, trashy thrillers of the 1960s and 70s forever identified with Dario Argento or Mario Bava, was actually shot... in black and white. Otherwise, though, all of the genre's conventions are present and correct in the what is an exemplary model of giallo at its best: a slightly preposterous premise that pushes a classic mystery plot to its limits into slightly supernatural, oneiric territories, shot with a glorious sense of style as a titillating thrill ride aiming at keeping the viewer on the edge of their seats. 

     Though directed by one of the genre's master stylists, Mr. Bava, La Ragazza che Sapeva Troppo is actually much more demure and chaste than later genre entries: it is the tale of an American tourist (Letícia Román) in a Rome holiday crying wolf after a series of unnerving brushes with crime, with everyone around her thinking her experiences are the product of a hyper-active imagination fed on murder mysteries. Obviously it's nothing of the sort, even though the screenwriting committee usual on Italian films (six credited writers) makes it very clear that story takes a backseat to the prodigiously stylish visuals, overlooking the plot's basic but really rather charming implausibilities. Mr. Bava's effortless mastery of space and setup always leads the viewer precisely where he needs to be, the elegance of his compositions allowing for a teasing series of witty visual gags that underline the film's double duty as a romantic comedy (John Saxon playing the bumbling suitor who is the only person to believe there's something to Nora's experiences than meets the eye). 

     One of a series of Italian productions bought by the celebrated American International Pictures for US release, this ended up being distributed in many countries in an English-spoken version retitled Evil Eye, with a new score by Les Baxter (no Morricone he, but with some inspired moments) and a series of trims and inserts that resulted in a more lightly comedic touch to the film. The print caught at this particular screening was a period release print of the American version.  

Starring John Saxon and Letícia Román; with Valentina Cortese; and Dante di Paolo.
     Directed and photographed (black & white) by Mario Bava; written by Ennio de Concini, Enzo Corbucci, Eliana de Sabatar, with the collaboration of Mino Guerrini, Franco Prosperi, Mario Bava; music by Roberto Nicolosi (original Italian version), Les Baxter (US version); production designer, Giorgio Giovannini; costume designer, Tina Loriedo Grani; film editor, Mario Serandrei.
     An American International Pictures release; a James H. Nicholson/Samuel Z. Arkoff presentation of a Galatea/Coronet production. (Italian distributor, Warner Bros.) 
     US version screened at Cinemateca Portuguesa - Dr. Luís de Pina screen, Lisbon, September 1st 2011.

 Trailer for the US version:

 Trailer for the original Italian version:


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