Trivia George Lazenby was Bond, and was also in the amazing The Man From Hong Kong
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Who Saw Her Die? (1971)
14th Oct 08
Light years away from Bond, a skinny George Lazenby dodges paedophiles as he hunts for the callous, evil bastard responsible for so many bad dubbing jobs on 70’s giallo.
Given a plush release a while back via the now-deleted Anchor Bay “Giallo Collection” Region 1 release, this efficient giallo makes a welcome return to shiny disc-land in this country courtesy of Shameless. It’s an exceptionally well shot thriller (with expert use of the widescreen frame) that lacks the outrageous violence and gore of some of its peers but punctuates an involving narrative with stand-out suspense sequences.
One such set piece is the very first scene, a burst of harsh brutality set against the deceptively beautiful backdrop of a French ski resort. A red-headed little girl is grabbed from behind, bashed over the head with a rock and buried in the red-hued snow. It’s among the most arresting intros of any giallo from this period and creates a potent sense of menace that co-writer / director Lado largely sustains throughout.
Thereafter, sculptor George Lazenby is in Venice with his similarly red-haired daughter, far away from his estranged wife. Lazenby, a handsome one-time-only Bond just four years earlier, looks alarmingly different here, unattractively clad in dodgy polo necks and sporting a losing combination of bad 70’s hair, porn-star moustache and scrawny physique. He is forced to launch a personal investigation when his little girl vanishes and shows up later, face down in the canal. Almost everyone acts like a paedophile as the plot flits from one suspicious red-herring weirdo to another: our hero encounters a creepy budgie-fancying lawyer, a ping-pong enthusiast (“If you can’t play ping-pong, don’t get mixed up in politics!”) and a mysterious, black clad veiled “woman” who prowls ominously around the murder sites.
Prefiguring Nicolas Roeg’s Venetian-set Don’t Look Now , which has spookily similar moments and also harrowingly depicts the aftermath of child-death, Lado takes a tourist-beloved city and turns it into a murky (visually and morally), seedy underworld rife with death and corruption. His Cinemascope frame constantly seems busy with the threat of violence and the murder sequences themselves make superb use of location. Aside from the striking prologue, there’s a memorable strangulation in a darkened porn cinema and a haunting sequence in which a child’s doll-like corpse is gazed at in silent disbelief by a stunned crowd of onlookers and tourists.
Like a lot of the decade’s giallo, Who Saw Her Die? does succumb to the common weaknesses of sluggish pacing, indifferent acting and silly contrivances (a threatening black-gloved figure stalking a female character turns out to be just her cleaner, acting weird for no reason other than to give us a false scare!). It is, however, well crafted and gripping, and the melancholic, grim mood is superbly enhanced by one of Ennio Morricone’s finest Euro-thriller scores, built around an eerily insistent, repetitive theme that sounds like a child’s lullaby on acid.
Versions Available uncut from those brilliant guys at Shameless Films