I knew her well – The Criterion Collection #801 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 13, 2016 by  


Antonio Pietrangeli’s “I knew her well” is tragic comedy of a young woman slowly consumed and suffocated by society. And it’s one of the two finest films created by the Commedia all’italiana filmmaker. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1965 Titanus.  2016 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: I knew her well – The Criterion Collection #801


DURATION: 115 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, black and white, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, Italian Monaural with English Subtitles


RELEASE DATE: February 23, 2016

Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli

Written by Ruggero Maccari, Antonio Pietrangeli, Ettore Scola

Produced by Turi Vasile, Luggi Waldfeitner

Music by Benedetto Ghiglia, Piero Piccioni

Cinematography by Armando Nannuzzi

Edited by Franco Fraticelli

Production Design by Maurizio Chiari

Set Decoration by Bruno Cesari

Costume Design by Maurizio Chiari


Stefania Sandrelli as Adriana Astarelli

Mario Adorf as Emilio Ricci aka Bietolone

Jean-Claude Brialy as Dario Marchionni

Joachim Fuchsberger as The WRiter

Nino Manfredi as Cianfanna

Enrico Maria Salerno as Roberto

Ugo Tognazzi as Gigi Baggini

Karin Dor as Barbara, the lady friend of Adriana

Franco Fabrizi as Paganelli

Following the gorgeous, seemingly liberated Adriana (Divorce Italian Style’s Stefania Sandrelli) as she chases her dreams in the Rome of La dolce vita, I Knew Her Well is at once a delightful immersion in the popular music and style of Italy in the sixties and a biting critique of its sexual politics and the culture of celebrity. Over a series of intimate episodes, just about every one featuring a different man, a new hairstyle, and an outfit to match, the unsung Italian master Antonio Pietrangeli, working from a script he cowrote with Ettore Scola, composes a deft, seriocomic character study that never strays from its complicated central figure. I Knew Her Well is a thrilling rediscovery, by turns funny, tragic, and altogether jaw-dropping.


Filmmaker Antonio Pietrangeli (“The Bachelor”, “Phantom Lovers”, “The Girl From Parma”, “The Visit”) is best known for the work as a film reviewer for Italian cinema magazines such as “Biano e nero” and “Cinema” but moreso as a writer for other well-known filmmakers.

From “Obsessione” directed by Luchino Visconti, “Fabiola” by Alessandro Blasetti, “Europa ’51” by Roberto Rosselini and “La Lupa” by Alberto Lattuada.

But he will be known for his two films: “Adua e le compagne” (1960, a.k.a. “Adua and her friends”) and “Io la conoscevo bene” (1965, a.k.a. “I knew her well”).

A filmmaker who was known for his films and working with female talent in the commedia all’italian genre, Antonio Pietrangeli will be known as a director with so much potential, but also as a filmmaker who died while working on a film (his 1968 film, “Come, quando, perche”).

And now, “I knew her well” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

The film stars Stefania Sandrelli (“Divorce Italian Style”, “The Conformist”, “Seduced and Abandoned”), Mario Adorf (“The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum”, “The Tin Drum”, “Rossini”, “Lola”), Jean-Claude Brialy (“A Woman is a Woman”, “Claire’s Knee”, “The Phantom of Liberty”), Franco Fabrizi (“Fellini i Vitelloni”, “Ginger and Fred”, “Death in Venice”, “Il Bidone”), Nino Manfredi (“Ugly, Dirty and Bad”, “Bread and Chocolate”) and many more.

“I knew her well” is a film that follows a young Italian woman named Adriana and her dreams of becoming a movie star.

And like her clothes and hairstyle, the men often change as she moves from job to job, from man to man and we watch this beautiful young woman slowly becoming devoured by the world that she thought she had desired.


“I knew her well – The Criterion Collection #801” is presented in 1:85:1 black and white and in 1080p High Definition. The film looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray!

White and grays are well-contrast, black levels are nice and deep and the detail and sharpness is fantastic. I did not notice any issues with the picture quality with blurriness or any scratches or dust during my viewing of the film.

According to the Criterion Collection, “this 4K digital restoration was created in partnership with the Cineteca di Bologna from the 35 mm original camera negative and a 35 mm fine-grain positive.”


As for the lossless audio, “I knew her well – The Criterion Collection #801” is presented in Italian LPCM 1.0 without any buzzing or crackle.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the soundtrack negative. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD and Izotope RX 4.

Subtitles are in English.


“I knew her well – The Criterion Collection #801” comes with the following special features:

  • Stefania Sandrelli – (9:24) Featuring a Sept. 2015 interview with actress Stefania Sandrelli.
  • Luca Barattoni – (21:51) Film scholar Luca Barattoni examines the career of filmmaker Antonio Pietrangeli.
  • Sandrelli’s Audition – (5:17) Stefania Sandrelli’s audition for the role of Adriana in “I knew her well”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “I knew her well”.


“I knew her well – The Criterion Collection #801” comes with a six-page foldout with the essay “city girl” by Alexander Stille.


In some ways, “I knew her well” is reminiscent of stories of starry eyed Hollywood hopefuls who unfortunately get caught up in the wrong things and end up destroying their lives in some sort of way.

For the main character Adriana of Antonio Pietrangeli’s “I knew her well”, the beautiful young woman is stylish and every man is attracted to her.

The problem is that Adriana looks withdrawn and with each glimpse of her life, from her alcoholic father and her passionless visit to her home on the farm, to the many men who seem to want to be with her, but in essence, want to only have sex with her.

There are too many moments of where we see Adriana switching from man to man, with almost a new look each time.

Living a facade of luxury and happiness, but each time, we know she is not happy.  She is fueled by temporary happiness, but long-term happiness does not exist with her.

And one can call her naive, but the more we see her move from man to man, the more we feel bad for her because she is often used in some sort of way. She only lives for the moment, nothing more and nothing less.

As the film features numerous songs of Italian classics from Mina, Peppino DiCappri, Mia Genberg, Sergio Endrigo to name a few.  And the music lends to the vibrancy of the film and often enhances the moments that Adriana takes part in, the film goes from vibrant to slowly transitioning to alienation, taking a page from Michelangelo Antonioni and we eventually witness a young woman slowly being compromised by her unhappiness.

The film is rather interesting when compared to Pietrangeli’s “Adua and her Friends”, as the characters try to escape their lives as prostitutes and try to start a new life running a hotel and eatery, but their past catches up to them.  But with each of the women featured in that film, there is hope.  With Adriana, we’re not even sure if she is hopeful for anything in life, because she just lives for the now and whether becoming an actress or some man’s sexual object, we don’t know what is in her mind set until the film gets closer to its ending.

But fortunately, Piatrangeli slowly gives us information with super quick flashbacks that come from nowhere to show us a life that she had lived.  Meanwhile, Stefania Sandrelli does a magnificent job of becoming Andriana and wearing the many emotions and society that slowly consumes the young woman.

The Criterion Collection Blu-ray looks fantastic as the film features wonderful contrast and sharpness.  No sign of banding, artifacts or any video or audio problems.  You get a few featurettes including a recent interview with Stefania Sandrelli plus an interview with film scholar Luca Barattoni about the career of Pietrangeli and more.

Overall, Antonio Pietrangeli’s “I knew her well” is tragic comedy of a young woman slowly consumed and suffocated by society.  And it’s one of the two finest films created by the Commedia all’italiana filmmaker.


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