Who Saw Her Die?
directed by Aldo Lado and Vittorio De Sisti
starring George Lazenby, Anita Strindberg, Adolfo Celi
Arrow Video strikes again with a masterful Blu-Ray release of Aldo Lado and Vittorio De Sisti’s 1972 giallo Who Saw Her Die?. Starring James Bond leading man George Lazenby, James Bond villain Adolfo Celi (Thunderball), and Italian exploitation It girl Anita Strindberg this tale of child murder and conspiracy is notable as one of the few examples of child murder in the giallo cycle. Kids are usually safe from actual hard in these films but occasionally that taboo is shattered and Who Saw Her Die? Does so with a film that manages to be an interesting study in grief before spiraling into the requisite madness that is giallo.
Precocious redhead Roberta (Nicoletta Elmi, Flesh for FrankensteinOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service) during her parents’ separation. Roberta is clearly loved by her father who gleefully shows her off to his friends and business associates around the city before settling into the more mundane day to day life in the city. One afternoon Roberta asks to play with the other kids in the square so her dad lets her go and take the free time to enjoy some mid-day sex with his girlfriend and to do some work in his studio. As night falls and Franco emerges from his studio to an empty apartment he doesn’t think much of it. He heads to the square to collect her, but the children are gone, she isn’t at the cafe either. Franco is sent on dead end leads from various kids and adults but Roberta is gone and no one knows where. The police are predictably unhelpful until Roberta’s body is found in a canal. Franco and his wife Elizabeth (Anita Strindberg, Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) reunite but his guilt over his daughter’s death and his obsession with finder her killer threatens to drive them apart again. As Franco begins to break through the wall of silence about his murdered daughter he uncovers a conspiracy that people are willing to kill to keep in the shadows.
The movie Is not as flashy or as trashy as many of its contemporaries, but is instead a fairly restrained and beautiful film. Directors Lado & De Sisti make great use of the city of Venice to create a chilling atmosphere of dread out of a city that started out looking so lovely and inviting before Roberta’s murder. The beauty of the film masks the putrid ugliness beneath the surface that cost the life of Roberta, in the service of their unholy brotherhood. The score by Ennio Morricone with a heavy reliance on choral flourishes is wonderfully haunting and is a bit of a precursor to Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic score for The Omen (1976). It may not be an important or striking as some of the essential classics of the genre, Who Saw Her Die? is nonetheless a highly enjoyable giallo with enough original touches to set it apart from the deluge of early 1970s giallo films that flooded cinemas in the wake of Argento’s Bird with the Crystal Plumage.
Arrow Video has created a lush Blu-Ray for the film boasting a 2.35.1 widescreen 2K restoration taken from the original 35mm camera negative. This transfer is a striking improvement over the DVD releases from Anchor Bay and Blue Underground respectively. The disc is also packed with nice extras. Film historian Troy Howarth provides commentary for the film. He delves into the careers of all the major players and doesn’t dodge the troubled history of James Bond star George Lazenby’s career, and his history of not discussing this film. He discusses the trope of creepy children in Italian genre films of the period and the niche that Nicoletta Elmi filled in several films most memorably as the sadistic girl sticking pins into lizards in Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso. Howarth also explores the trope of the corrupted morality of the wealthy leading them into extreme perversions and lack of value of human life. The disc also includes newly filmed interviews with Aldo Lado, Nicoletta Elmi, co-writer Francesco Barilli are included along with a piece from author and critic Michael Mackenzie. The disc is packaged with reversible art work and has a 36 page booklet with essays from Eurocult author and historian Troy Howarth and film writer and giallo specialist Rachel Nisbet, who previously contributed the featurette Lines and Shadows about the stylistic use of architecture in The Fifth Cord on Arrow’s Blu-Ray release. This is the kind of release that makes fans want to buy the physical media.