The Girl Who Knew Too Much

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

"Oh mother. Murders don't just happen like that here. "

Nora Davis (Leticia Roman) is a young American tourist and an avid reader of crime novels, who has an exciting first day in Rome. First, the kind man on the plane who offered her a cigarette is arrested at the airport for smuggling marijuana. Then, after her elderly host dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she runs for help and is knocked unconscious on the Spanish Steps by a mugger. In her delirious state, Nora witnesses a woman getting stabbed to death nearby but when she awakes, no one believes her story, dismissing it as the result of too many mystery novels and a youthful imagination. When Laura (Valentina Cortese), a neighbor of Nora's late host, lets Nora stay at her apartment, things seem to return to normal – until the maid reveals that a murder really did take place, just as Nora described... ten years ago!  Did Nora experience a psychic vision of the crime? Or could it just be a delusion, brought on by the marijuana cigarette she accidentally smoked? And who is the stranger in the shabby sport coat who follows her around? With help from the handsome Doctor Marcello Bassi (John Saxon), Nora intends to untangle the mystery!

The Girl Who Knew Too Much is cited as the first giallo - the movie that started the craze for stylish Italian murder mysteries. It's also Mario Bava's last black and white movie.  Even if the title wasn't a giveaway, it's not hard to see that this film is Mario Bava's homage to Alfred Hitchcock. It borrows many of Hitchcock's favorite themes and stylistic cues, like the creative use of suspense, touches of humor to counter-balance the dark subject matter, and a director cameo. Even though the killer's motives don't really make sense and the plot is driven by an outrageous string of coincidences, this is still an enjoyable film that I recommend highly.
  • Being the first movie of its genre, The Girl Who Knew Too Much sets up quite a few precedents:  the curious amateur detective, a main character with a story that no one else believes, inept police, high body count, flirting with the paranormal, and a story that starts in the middle, expanding beyond the temporal boundaries of the film, just to name a few.
  • Bava mixes genres beautifully in this film, bringing elements of romantic comedy to his crime thriller. It's a shame that more giallo film makers didn't emulate this.
  • There are famous stories about how John Saxon and Mario Bava didn't get along during production of The Girl Who Knew Too Much. I met John Saxon once at a horror movie convention and, while he was charming and friendly and happily autographed my DVD, he evaded all my questions about the film.
  • One of my favorite moments is at the end, when we see rays of light beaming through two bullet holes in a door. It's a dramatic effect that's been copied in countless movies.
  • Dante DiPaolo, who plays the reporter, Landini, was married late in life to Rosemary Clooney. This makes him stepfather to Miguel Ferrer, stepfather-in-law to Debbie Boone, brother-in-law to Nick Clooney, and uncle to George Clooney.
What the Hell am I Watching?

The Girl Who Knew Too Much is really the story of a young murder mystery novel-loving woman who discovers that she's the main character in a murder mystery. It's meta and self-referential before that was even a thing. Basically, it's the Scream of the 1960's.

Fashion Moment

Nora is looking FIERCE in this python-skin trench coat.

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