This month’s Giallo and Gelato offering will leave you wanting your frozen treat shaken and not stirred. Who Saw Her Die? features a former James Bond in the middle of a death in Venice. It’s not Sean Connery or Roger Moore. The movie stars George Lazenby, the Australian actor who only played Bond once in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby’s short tenure often leads to a certain mocking. OHMSS is the most overlooked of the early Bonds simply because cable channels would rather just run the early films featuring Sean Connery and Roger Moore. It can be a shock to see Lazenby called 007. A viewer can’t be faulted in thinking it’s a bootleg movie. But OHMSS is one of the best Bonds and Lazenby makes the difference. He’s able to give us a Bond who is about to open his heart and have his heart completely ripped out. That is exactly what also happens to Lazenby in Who Saw Her Die? When you receive your copy of Who Saw Her Die?, we recommend pairing the Giallo film with Talenti’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Gelato.
A young redhaired girl sleds down a snowy hill in France. Lurking at the bottom is a mysterious old lady behind a veil. When the girl’s nanny arrives at the bottom, she discovers the worst has happened. The action switches to Venice, Italy where Sculptor Franco Serpieri (George Lazenby) is excited to pick up his daughter Roberta (Deep Red‘s Nicoletta Elmi) at the airport. Roberta visits from her mother’s home in London. She enjoys hanging out with her dad in the city full of canals and his rather colorful friends in the artistic world. However watching the happy reunion of father and daughter is a familiar veiled face. They naturally don’t notice the stranger since they live in a city that is filled with tourists constantly staring at things around them. One afternoon they return to his sculpting studio and Roberta wants to play with the neighborhood kids on the plaza. He lets her because his lady friend Gabriella (House of Pleasure for Women‘s Rosemarie Lindt). He gets lost in his guest and later his art when it strikes him that Roberta has not come inside. He goes outside to find an empty plaza. He visits all the neighborhood kids to find out where she’s gone. Then receives the horrible news. His ex-wife (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin‘s Anita Strindberg) arrives in Venice. The two mourning parents are hurting and confused. Franco senses that the police are useless in tracking down the killer since it’s not tourist season. He gets news of the similar murder in France and embarks upon his own investigation. What he doesn’t count on is that the child killer will also eliminate adults that are loose ends.
Who Saw Her Die! might seem like a minor title in the Giallo genre, but this is first rank. Director Aldo Lado must be included in any discussion of director’s whose first two films are great. His first work was the compelling Short Night of Glass Dolls. He sought out plenty of fine talent for his sophomore effort in the crew slots. For Die, he had cinematographer Franco Di Giacomo (Four Flies on Grey Velvet & Il Postino) and editor Angelo Curi (Death Walks on High Heels & Death Walks at Midnight) framing up and slicing the action. To push up the tension, Ennio Morricone used a children’s choir to keep up the pressure. There’s also a choice piece of stunt casting with Franco’s art dealer being played by Adolfo Celi, best known as Largo in Thunderball. He was a villain for the other guy.
Lazenby does not look like his Bond persona. He’s lost a bit of weight to resemble a starving artist. He’s grown out his hair and has a thick mustache that belongs on a third basemen in 1972. Since this is Venice in the winter, he roams the old houses and canals wearing a frumpy sweater and raincoat. He’s not even close to wearing a tuxedo. He once again digs deep as he plays an emotional character. Lazenby The only strange part of the performance is that his voice is not on the English dub. American actor Michael Forest fills in for Lazenby. You might remember Forest as Apollo on the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Why didn’t Lazenby provide his own voice? First off, European films rarely shot usable sound. Supposedly Lazenby did this movie so he could buy a boat to sail around the world. Odds are he was high on the waves when the picture cut was ready for ADR. Many of the actors who do their own voices in Italian movies during this time were doing multiple pictures so they were hanging around Rome when the microphone was ready. Forest does an excellent job making us believe his voice could come from Lazenby’s lips.
Who Saw Her Die? does draw comparisons to Nic Roeg’s Don’t Look Now which was also shot in Venice. Although this movie was shot first so it’s an odd twist that the Italian genre film is the one that might have been cribbed. There’s probably a chance that a lot of the local support crew worked on both films which led to certain locations being used. If you ever want a strange evening of dreary Venice, why not have a Don’t Look Now – Who Saw Her Die? double feature.
Who Saw Her Die? really is nerve wrecking if you’re a single parent trying to deal with anxieties when you fight back on helicopter parenting urges. You’re not going to let your kid go out and play until they complete a doctoral program.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer is a brand new 2K restoration of the full-length Italian version of the film from the original 35mm camera negative. The murkiness of Venice is brought out on the screen. The audio is LPCM mono for both the Italian and English dubs. When you choose the dub, you get the titles in that language. Both soundtracks are clean and fine. The movie is subtitled in English.
New audio commentary by author and critic Troy Howarth goes deep into the film. He points out how they had been trying to hire Goldfinger‘s Gert Fröbe to play the art dealer. The producers wanted to play up the Bond connection.
I Saw Her Die (56:55) sits down with director Aldo Lado. He talks about how a delay in Last Tango In Paris gave him the time to make Who Saw Her Die? Brando had to make The Godfather first.
Nicoletta, Child of Darkness (27:26) catches up with actress Nicoletta Elmi. She talks about being a child actress in the glory days of Italian cinema where she worked with Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Aldo Lado. Early in her career, she rarely read the scripts because she too young to read. She remember Lazenby spent a lot of time with her when the cameras weren’t running.
Once Upon a Time in Venice (31:29) allows co-writer Francesco Barilli to speak of how the script evolved. They began the script without it being attached to a producer. He wanted to direct, but the producer wanted to work with Aldo Lado again. Barilli is happy that Lado followed the script and the atmosphere. Barilli would direct The Perfume of the Lady in Black and gives a lot of details about the shoot.
Giallo in Venice (26:17) is a new video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie. He speaks of the history of the film and how it really didn’t get seen in America until the early 21st Century. He talks of the comparisons between this movie and Don’t Look Now.
Original Italian and English theatrical trailers (3:13) are identical except with different title cards. They break out the “traditional” Italian movie font for the English version.
Poster and fotobusta gallery (1:40) sells the film with blood.
Arrow Video presents Who Saw Her Die?. Directed by Aldo Lado. Screenplay by: Francesco Barilli
& Massimo D’Avak . Starring: George Lazenby, Anita Strindberg, Adolfo Celi & Nicoletta Elmi. Rated: R. Running Time: 94 minutes. Released: September 17, 2019
Tags: Arrow Video, George Lazenby, Giallo and Gelato, James Bond