Monday, October 12, 2020

Only now does it occur to me... THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1963)

Only now does it occur to me... that Dario Argento may have tucked an incredibly subtle homage to his mentor, Mario Bava, within his 1980 film INFERNO. (INFERNO being, perhaps, one of the most Bava-influenced of all the Argentos––its opening setpiece in a flooded manse was even guest-directed by Mario Bava himself.)

First, let's go back to 1963, when Bava was directing the granddaddy of giallos, the Hitchcock-inspired THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, which is still the only giallo I can think of that ends with a joke about a priest accidentally smoking a whole bunch of weed.

Anyway, there's a scene in THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH where our heroine (Letícia Román) sneaks away from home at midnight and into a cab which drops her off at a mysterious rendezvous in Rome
at a spooky building in a deserted plaza with an ominous fountain in the foreground. The cab pulls off and she faces the unknown alone.
At a similar moment, storywise, Argento has one of his three protagonists (the plot of INFERNO follows a sort of "hot potato-protagonist" motif), played by Eleonora Giorgi, take a midnight cab ride to a mysterious rendezvous in Rome
 
at a spooky building in a deserted plaza with an ominous fountain in the foreground. 
 The cab pulls off and she faces the unknown alone.
I don't think I would have noticed this, had I not watched both THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and INFERNO within a short span, but it's likely the smallest tip of the hat from pupil to mentor... or perhaps it's something more. Argento fell ill with hepatitis during the making of INFERNO and directed several sequences from his hospital bed. And in addition to the opening setpiece, it is said that some of the second unit work was directed by Mario Bava––so it's possible that this bit is not actually a minor homage by Argento, but, in fact, pure, unadulterated Bava! Yes, I am a giallo nerd.

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