Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Giallo That Did So Much. . .


Much has been written regarding the influence that Mario Bava's THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1963) has on the giallo's narrative structure. Indeed, it is credited as being the first movie to typify the giallo genre. In his treatise, La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film (2006), Mikel J. Koven generalizes the movie's influential narrative structure, thereby summarizing the plot of the murder mystery giallo in general:

"An innocent person, often a tourist, witnesses a brutal murder that appears to be the work of a serial killer. He or she takes on the role of amateur detective in order to hunt down this killer, and often succeeds where the police fail." (2006: 3-4).

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is to the giallo what DR. NO is to the James Bond franchise. It establishes the basic structure of the genre, a structure that is generic yet refreshing in the sense that a pre-existing template is being used while being reinvented and filtered by a strong vision. It wouldn't be until the following year that the genre's idiosyncratic style and imagery would emerge--from Bava again--with BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964), in which all the elements come together to create a familiar paradigm. The GOLDFINGER of the giallo genre, if you will.

The titular girl of Bava's movie happens to be both a tourist and an American woman, setting into place a very important and common characteristic that will surface in subsequent gialli throughout the next four decades: In a lot of the gialli, the protagonist is typically a very independent and professional woman. She's not a student, not the male hero's girlfriend or wife. And unlike the heroines of the North American slasher genre, virginity isn't a requirement to make it to the very end of the thriller either. Unlike Nora Davis in GIRL, a typical giallo heroine is not necessarily identified as being American, despite the fact that most gialli were dubbed in English to attract a wider audience. . . .

2009. All works published by Marvin Miranda are under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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