JULY 4, 2007
It’s almost charming to watch a film with simple explanations for possible plot holes. Such is the case with Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much, which many consider to be the first giallo film (but really is more of a Hitchcockian thriller, as most of the deaths are offscreen).
Halfway or so through the film, the American heroine (the incredibly beautiful Leticia Roman) gets scared in the house she is staying in, and decides to put some talcum powder on the floor and then wrap string around the furniture in order to trip any would-be intruders (she got the idea from a murder mystery book). Now, no one would possibly give a shit about this, but the narrator takes the time to point out that the killer probably doesn’t read those types of books, but even if he did, this particular one was just released in the States and thus wouldn’t have been translated into Italian yet, therefore he wouldn’t be aware of her ruse. LOVE IT.
(We can ignore the fact that she wraps so much string around the place that even the killer was an illiterate, he’d also have to be blind, dumb, and possibly dead entirely to not notice it.)
The only real flaw in the film is that the killer is pretty obvious right from the start, because she literally appears out of nowhere, introduces herself to the heroine, and then insists the girl stays in her house while she is out of town. Even if there weren’t any unsolved murders in my life, if someone came up to me and said “Hey I’m Billy, we have a mutual friend, want to live in my house for a while?” I would call the cops immediately. At least, after I checked the place out. If it had central air and decent water pressure in the bathroom, I’d probably take my chances.
Actually, it seems pushy strangers are just everywhere in Italy. John Saxon practically forces her to go sightseeing with him, and in the first scene, a guy next to her on the plane all but shoves a cigarette into her mouth. “May I offer you a cigarette?” “I have some” “No, I insist, take the whole pack!” Wow! In the next scene we learn they are laced with marijuana, and the subplot goes away until the very end, when the girl wonders if everything that happened was in fact just a hallucination. Lady, you took like two drags from a standard joint, I highly doubt that resulted in a week long ‘trip’ where you imagined you were in a Hitchcock movie (though it would certainly explain why she covers the entire fucking house with string. Seriously, shit looks like Shelob came through on her way to fuck with Samwise).
But I dug the film. Since it’s in black and white, Bava’s usual lush color palette is obviously missing, but otherwise this is a solid thriller. Unfortunately, like some of his other films, it has been “homaged” so many times you may feel like you’ve seen it all before, but that shouldn’t be a detraction. Since the box set (5 films, including previous Horror Movie A Day entries Kill Baby Kill and Black Sunday) is readily available for 20-25 bucks, fans should definitely pick it up and see where a lot of genre standards began.
What say you?