The Evil Eye (1963)

The Evil Eye (La ragazza che sapeva troppo)
Directed by Mario Bava
Written by Sergio Corbucci, Ennio De Concini, Eliana De Sabata, Mario Bava, et al
1963/Italy
Galatea Film/Coronet s.r.l.
First viewing/FilmStruck

Nora Davis: [into the phone] Oh mother, murders don’t just happen like that here.

The beautiful telling of an OK murder mystery story.

American tourist Nora Davis is looking forward to a fun holiday in Italy.  But the trip seems doomed from the start.  Her first stop is to visit a relative in Rome.  What she doesn’t know is that the old lady is practically on death’s door.  It is then that Nora meets charming young doctor Marcello Bassi (John Saxon).  She is left alone with the patient and it turns into a dark and stormy night.  The invalid promptly dies.  The phone line is dead so Nora goes out into the night headed for the hospital where Bassi works, which is close to the Spanish steps.

While walking down the steps, Nora is assaulted for her purse and pushed to the ground where she hits her head.  When she briefly regains consciousness, she observes the murder of a young woman by stabbing.  By the time she is rescued by a policeman, all evidence of the crime has disappeared and Nora is not believed – not least because she is an avid murder mystery reader with a vivid imagination.  But Nora will not give up and eventually Dr. Bassi joins her on the hunt for the killer.  With Valentina Cortese as a kindly, but suspicious, Roman who takes Nora in.

The poster stresses the “supernatural” elements of the film but this is basically a murder mystery with a few jump cut thrills thrown in.  It is partially told through the mind-reading technique where Nora gives a voice over of her thoughts.  I kept expecting it to turn into a spoof but it did not.  Director Bava, who was also the film’s DP, made it beautifully atmospheric.

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