The Pyjama Girl Case

The Pyjama Girl Case
 
(Flavio Mogherini, 1977)
 
☆☆☆
 
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster 
 
Summary: Some nice diversions (including an Oscar winner in the lead role) transform sleazy giallo The Pyjama Girl Case into something special. 
 
Back in the 1940a, Ray Milland not only won the Academy Award for Best Actor, but also the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor, the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor all for his unforgettable portrayal as an alcoholic in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece The Lost Weekend. 
 
A series of intriguing films followed but by the 60s and 70s, his star was shining a little more dimly than in his prime resulting in some interesting career choices on television and independent films (including a great turn in Roger Corman’s grim horror Premature Burial). Another one to add to the list of curios is Flavio Mogherini’s sleazy Italian murder mystery thriller The Pyjama Girl Case which is a welcome break from the usual giallo fare not just because it’s got an Oscar winner in the lead but also because it transports the action from the streets of Italy to New South Wales.
 
 
Here’s the plot: The body of a young woman is found on the beach, shot in the head, burned to hide her identity and dressed in distinctive yellow pyjamas. With the Sydney police stumped, former Inspector Timpson (Ray Milland, Dial M for Murder) comes out of retirement to crack the case. Treading where the “real” detectives can’t, Timpson doggedly pieces together the sad story of Dutch immigrant Glenda Blythe (Dalila Di Lazzaro, Phenomena) and the unhappy chain of events which led to her grisly demise. 
 
Inspired by the real-life case which baffled the Australian police and continues to spark controversy and unanswered questions to this day, The Pyjama Girl Case is a uniquely haunting latter-day giallo from the tail end of the genre’s boom period, co-starring Michele Placido (director of Romanzo Criminale) and Howard Ross (The New York Ripper), and featuring a memorably melancholic score by veteran composer Riz Ortolani (Don’t Torture a Duckling).
 
 
There’s a lot to love with The Pyjama Girl Case - Milland’s inviting performance (complete with dodgy dubbing as typical for the genre), some brilliantly composed photography, a genuinely bracing plot that takes some chances with its narrative and the music that blends gorgeous orchestration with decidedly naff pop of the era. Put it all together and this is one of the better giallos and a delicious diversion for Milland to boot. 
 
Be sure to pick up the Arrow Video Blu-ray. As usual, they’ve done a fantastic job bringing us the best available print and they’ve supplemented with a host of decent bonus features too. 
 
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
 
• Brand new 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks 
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
• New video interview with author and critic Michael Mackenzie on the internationalism of the giallo
• New video interview with actor Howard Ross
• New video interview with editor Alberto Tagliavia
• Archival interview with composer Riz Ortolani
• Image gallery
• Italian theatrical trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: 
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
 

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