Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mario Bava's "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" (1963)

Mario Bava was a revolutionary man. Throughout his lifetime he influenced many people in the film business. His 1963 film, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, one of his earliest films, practically invented the giallo genre of murder mysteries. This is a genre that would later be improved by Bava himself and made extremely popular world wide by the likes of Dario Argento.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a very stylish film, which is no surprise to anyone who knows Mario Bava. The use of shadows seems straight out of the film noir genre. I absolutely loved the work Bava did with the scene inside that apartment building where Nora is supposedly going to meet someone who knows things about the murders that have been occurring. The light bulbs swaying from the wind down a vacant and dreary hallway. The images are outstanding. Aside from the wonderful visual imagery, Bava used an interesting voice over narrative for the film that acted as a voice telling us of Nora's thoughts.

You see, Nora Davis was just coming from America when she got wrapped up in a murder mystery like the ones she reads about so often. Rather than let the police, who didn't believe her at first, take control, she decides to do some detective work of her own with the help of John Saxon, who plays a native Italian doctor in this film.

This giallo thriller plays off very Hitchcockian, right down to the obvious homage in the title. Overall, this is a great little film. It shows signs of things to come from Mario Bava and the genre as a whole. In terms of giallo, this film is fairly timid. I have no problem with black and white but I think the introduction of color in films really brought the genre alive and gave it it's own identity. If you've never seen a film from Mario Bava, this would be a fine place to start. While the ending doesn't leave your head spinning like some of the later giallos, it's a simple film and is a important piece historically.


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