Wednesday, December 5, 2012

31 Performances Ripe for Rediscovery (27) Dalila Di Lazzaro in THE PYJAMA GIRL CASE (1977)

One of the most searing, thoughtful and touching performances ever given in an Italian genre film was delivered in 1977 by a former Fashion model who is sadly still almost exclusively just known for her looks rather than her considerable skills as an actress.  Dalila Di Lazzaro hadn't even turned twenty-five when she was cast as the doomed title-character in Flavio Mogherini's gruelling and hypnotic La ragazza dal pigiama giallo.  The Italian born Lazzaro had already become a staple of Italian Genre films in the seventies but most filmmakers were content to use her just for her lovely body and perfect face, but Mogherini had different things in mind and trusted that there was a whole lot of depth and untapped power behind those striking eyes and boy was he right. 
Lazzaro is incredibly compelling in The Pyjama Girl Case and her work as Glenda Blythe remains one of the defining performances of the Italian Giallo (although Mogherini's film pushes the definition of the Giallo to the absolute extreme).  Lazzaro's performance is incredibly captivating, extremely moving and finally quite heartbreaking.  I wish more filmmakers would have recognized just how truly great she was, as The Pyjama Girl Case is one of the few films where she really got to show her range as an actor and performer. 
The Pyjama Girl Case is available from Blue Underground and it remains one of my favorite Italian films from the seventies.  Dalila Di Lazzaro would continue to work steadily, and do solid work,  in film and television before retiring in the late nineties but she was never again be given a role that equaled that of Glenda Blythe.  Lazzaro's work in The Pyjama Girl Case remains one of the most haunting and unsettling characterizations in all of modern film. 

-Jeremy Richey, 2012-


W.B. Kelso said...

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. What amazes me most about this movie is just how great she is, how much fun Milland is having, and how much the film mirrors Judith Rossner's LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR. I really dug into that connection when I reviewed the film several years ago, and felt Lazzaro and Mogherini did a better job of capturing the doomed character of that novel better than Diane Keaton and Richard Brooks did.

Jeremy Richey said...

I'm so happy to hear I am not the only one who admires her work in this film! Thanks so much...