I have to admit that it is very difficult to keep this movie straight from THE BLOOD STAINED SHADOW. The plots are strikingly similar – a priest is the killer, there is a cast of miscreants who are offed in very contrapaosso ways, and the main characters are kinda jerks.
WHO SAW HER DIE? is a mean little movie that leers, judgmentally, at a cast of sleazy characters in such a way that their desperation and loss is seen as unrepentant self-interest. The movie wanders around in a complex labyrinth of guilt, perverts, deviants, cheaters, fake priests, and child murderers.
The movie opens is a particularly nasty set piece of a child killed in the snowy woods after having wandered away from her nanny. The opening is powerful and frightening. The rest of the movie pales in the comparison. The gore is non-existent, the plot convoluted and filled with red herrings, and the reveal sturdily predictable.
George Lazenby (a one film James Bond) plays a sleazeball with tremendous relish. His daughter arrives for a visit from his estranged wife’s, he spends a good day entertaining her before leaving her to play outside while he makes it with his mistress. A mistress who could have easily complicated the plot in a very uncomfortable and interesting way after the murder, if she had not simply disappeared from the movie after the sex scene.
Instead, the movie veers off trying to up the emotional ante by having the estranged couple – Lazenby and Anita Strindberg! – reunite over the death of their child. Which is pretty boring, actually, even if the acting is pretty alright.
As Lazenby becomes more obsessed with unmasking the killer, he enters into the decadent and wild underbelly of upper crust Venice. There is a suspected pedophile, stabbed in his walk-in bird cage. There is a sexy secretary strangled in the cinema. Not to mention the wharf chase scene, where the suspence is built upon misdirection and a lot of tomfoolery. Great stuff. Lado is a real director, mostly.