'The Pyjama Girl Case: Special Edition'
(Ray Milland, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Michele Placido, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1977) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Two seemingly separate stories in New South Wales: a burned, murdered body of a young woman is found on the beach, and a retired inspector makes inquiries; also, Linda, a waitress and ferry attendant, has several lovers and marries one, but continues seeing the others.
The police have a suspect in the murder, but the retired inspector is convinced they're wrong; he continues a methodical investigation.
Blu-ray Verdict: This is one of those unusual films that doesn't seem that good at the time, but only once the final parts of the puzzle click into place is it apparent that there might have been more to it than at first met the eye.
The reason for this is because, unless I was seriously missing a trick, the flashback scenes in this film are never actually sign posted as such. As an audience we believe that the two threads to the story are happening simultaneously and will eventually converge.
Well they do converge but once they do, they put a whole new perspective on one half of the story. Until you realize this, the film appears to have a sort of aimlessness to it, and you simply can't see where it's going. Once the structure is revealed, however, it makes you want to watch the film again with this in mind.
'The Pyjama Girl Case' is marketed as a giallo; even going as far as to include the term in its original Italian title (The Dead Girl Wears Yellow Pyjamas). But although the film certainly displays some conventions of the genre, it's loosely a giallo at best.
For one thing, this is based on a true story, and even though a healthy number of liberties have been taken in this presentation, it's still much more grounded in reality than is typical of the giallo sub-genre.
The film often focuses on issues like prostitution and loneliness in a socially dramatic way that is completely alien to the more straight-ahead thriller approach of the giallo. This is certainly an atypical film, and for that it has to be given some credit.
The true story of 'The Pyjama Girl Case' is truly tragic and mysterious with all manner of dark undertones regarding the Australian justice system. If the material had been played straight it would have the potential for a great film. As it is, this Italian version of an Australian story is set decades later and includes a number of what-if scenarios.
At times it exaggerates true elements to an almost psychotronic level, e.g. the scene where the dead woman's body is on display to the public – the body was on display, but certainly not in the bizarre way depicted in the movie!
In summary, 'The Pyjama Girl Case' is a true Australian story told in a semi-true Italian way in a semi-giallo style in a series of flashbacks that only become obvious as such by the end of the film. And if that sounds a bit weird, well I suppose that's because it is! This film isn't what you think it's going to be that's for sure which is why some 40 years on I can myself appreciate it so much more. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
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
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