The Pyjama Girl Case

09/10/2020 06:34

Film: The Pyjama Girl Case (La ragazza dal pigiama giallo)

Year: 1978

Director: Flavio Mogherini

Writer: Flavio Mogherini and Rafael Sánchez Campoy

Starring: Ray Milland, Dalila Di Lazzaro and Michele Placido



This was a movie that I first heard about thanks to Duncan over on The Podcast Under the Stairs. He’s my resident expert on giallo films and this one popped up I believe when he reviewed briefly four on one of his episodes. From there I added it to my list of films to check out. Thankfully he included this one on his Where to Begin with Giallo over on the TPUTS Collective and I watched it to send my thoughts over. To get into this, the synopsis is in Australia, a retired police inspector is called to duty to solve the murder case of a young woman whose partially burned body is found on the beach.

Just as the synopsis states, we start this off on the beach. There’s a little girl talking to her doll, a boy with a kite and some guys riding dirt bikes. Things take a turn when the girl sits on some discarded cars where a hand falls on to her shoulder. The girl freaks out and the police are called. We then shift over to man listening to the radio and watering his plants in a greenhouse. He’s a retired inspector by the name of Thompson (Ray Milland). An ‘anonymous’ call comes in for him alerting of the body that is found. He goes in.

They’re all shocked in the autopsy room to see him. In charge is Nottingham (Antonio Ferrandis) and he’s placed Inspector Ramsey (Ramiro Oliveros) in charge. It seems that secretly Inspector Morris (Rod Mullinar) who is also there is the one who called Thompson. All the information they have to go on is the woman’s face has been burned. She was shot, but was hit in the head. She was also put into a burlap sack which still had rice grains in it. Ramsey believes that it was done by a sexual deviant which annoys Thompson. He thinks he’s too fresh with what he’s learned in school and it is clouding him from doing good police work. Even though he’s retired, Thompson is allowed to do his own investigation to help solve this case.

Running concurrently is another story following Glenda Blythe (Dalila Di Lazzaro). At first we see her after sleeping with Professor Henry Douglas (Mel Ferrer). She then goes to see Roy Conner (Howard Ross), another of her lovers. He’s jealous of her time with Professor Douglas and he makes that known. Roy also introduced her to Antonio Attolini (Michele Placido). Glenda is really a modern woman, doing what she likes and seeing all three men at the same time. This all changes though when Antonio asks her to marry him. She agrees, but married life isn’t what she expected. She also doesn’t stop seeing the other two men either.

The police are trying to discover the identity of the dead woman they found in pajamas. Ramsey is convinced it is a creepy man who lives by the beach, Quint (Giacomo Assandri), but Thompson isn’t so sure. He is following up other leads and this leads him to a dangerous encounter. How are these two stories connected and who is this dead woman. Also, why was she killed?

As I’m pretty new to this giallo sub-genre, this is one of the first ones that I’ve encountered that I don’t necessarily know if I would put it into horror. The body we see in the beginning is creepy looking, but we really don’t get a lot of elements to put it into this genre until much later in my opinion. I’m still doing this review, as I still put this in the adjunct category though.

Since I’ve seen enough, I was wondering how these two stories were going to intersect and wrap up. As I normally say, if I can’t guess the ending too early, then you have me. We only get one murder in this movie so I would say it is similar to something like A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin in that the death happens early and we know it. It is then trying to piece everything together. We get our red herrings in this movie and this one plays with that a bit. Sorry to spoil this, but unless this is the first one you’ve seen, then you know that Quint isn’t the killer.

What I like about this is that I feel co-writer/director Flavio Mogherini is playing with some of the giallo troupes as this sub-genre had been around for a bit. We have the old school detective of Thompson mocking Ramsey who is of the new school. Thompson discovers things by old detective work, where Ramsey is still using what he learned in school of analysis and psychoanalysis. He’s missing some major clues as he has tunnel vision to what he thinks. The detectives aren’t really bumbling though and actually doing the investigation. We do kind of get a dump of information at the end, but the reveal that we got shocked me. I loved how it tied everything up and that Thompson figured it all out halfway through. It is interesting what they do to prolong the movie in its reveal.

Something that didn’t necessarily work for me is that I do feel this runs a bit long. There are things that focus on with Glenda that ran a bit too long for my liking and it bogged the movie down. Since it does linger on things, I was losing interest where I think it could have conveyed and gotten that point across still by trimming like 15 minutes. For me it would run a bit tighter.

I will say though is that the acting is really good. Milland just has a charm about him and he reminds me of my dad. Thompson is retired, but it is driving him crazy. It ends up leading to his demise. Lazzaro is an attractive lady and I like that we have a modern woman here. My issue with her though is that she is cheating on her husband. That bothers me. I don’t mind that she does what she likes. Placido, Ross and Ferrer are all distinct and interesting as her lovers. Oliveros I also like in his performance as he butts heads with Thompson. Overall I’d say the acting is good across the board here.

Since there is just one death in the movie, we don’t get a lot in the way of effects. What do get looks good. The body in the beginning and something they do with it later in the movie was solid though. The blood looks actually pretty good for the era which surprised me. I’d say that the cinematography was well done and had no issues there. Also editing this was intriguing to me. We really have two different movies running concurrently How they tie up in the end was great.

Then finally we have the soundtrack. This movie has a theme song that I want to seek out as I really dug it. It feels of the era and sung by Amanda Lear. She has another song on the soundtrack that I didn’t enjoy as much. Aside from that, the rest of the score fit the era. Not one that will go down as a favorite, but I dig it enough for sure.

Now with that said, this is an interesting little gialli. It builds two different stories that I really enjoyed how they came together. It is one that I’ll revisit now that I know to see what I may have missed. The story is presented well thanks to the cast of actors that we have. If anything though, it does run a bit long for me and 15 minutes could have been trimmed for it to run tighter. The soundtrack has a great theme and the rest fit for what was needed. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects, but the cinematography and editing were on point. I would say this is an above average giallo that is based on a real unsolved case. If you like the sub-genre, give it a viewing for sure.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10