Home > Reviews > ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part VII

ENNIO MORRICONE REVIEWS, Part VII

In this seventh installment of my series looking at the early careers of iconic composers, we take a look at nine of the scores written by the legendary Ennio Morricone in 1969. This group of reviews looks at the music for several erotic dramas with a jazzy Euro-pop vibe, a French gangster film, a bizarre futuristic science fiction film that was banned in its own country, and two war movies – one of which is, in my opinion, a mostly undiscovered Morricone masterpiece!

 

CUORE DI MAMMA (1969)

Cuore di Mamma is an Italian dark comedy-drama directed by Salvatore Sampe (with whom Morricone previously worked on Grazie Zia in 1968), starring Philippe Leroy, Beba Loncar, and Carla Gravina. Gravina plays Lorenza, who divorced from her rich husband, and has an unfulfilling life hampered by her three restless children. When her mentally unstable eldest son kills the youngest son, tortures the housekeeper, kills his little sister, and tries to frame his mother for the crimes, Lorenza finally snaps – using her membership in a group of political revolutionaries as a cover to exact a violent revenge.

The score for Cuore di Mamma mostly plays against type, and is a gentle, intricate, delicate, if a little peculiar, exploration of the encroaching madness that slowly overtakes Lorenzo as her world unravels. The two “Ricreazione Divertita” cues in the main and end titles initially have a pretty, music box feel, but are then intentionally spoiled and taken over by a series of stylistic clashes, including performances by I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni and vocal soloist Renata Cortiglioni, an unusual rock music interlude, and a finale that oscillates between rich strings, militaristic marches, and sampled machine guns. This idea of odd juxtaposition continues throughout the score: for example “La Sveglia” is a mournful duet for a solo trumpet and a boinging Jew’s harp, while “Marcia del Generale Graziosi” blends the harsh military theme with longing, romantic strings .

Probably the highlight of the score is the gloriously lush and melodic “Ouverture del Mattino,” which builds from a slightly hesitant opening featuring little piano and harpsichord motifs, pizzicato textures, and string washes, to become quite florid and impressive, with classical, almost Mozartian solo violin stylings. I’m also quite taken by the straightforward classical string melodies in “Giorno di Lavoro” and “Quartetto,” which are really lovely, as well as the beautifully idyllic and dream-like vocal track “Ninna Nanna Per Adulteri,” and the wistfully delightful harpsichords in “Suoni Per Un Clavicembalo”.

My choice for the best soundtrack album for the film is the one released by Spanish label Saimel in 2004, which expands the original 1994 CD release with nine additional tracks, and presents it as a standalone release.

Track Listing: 1. Ricreazione Divertita (Titoli) (3:00), 2. La Sveglia (3:29), 3. Giorno di Lavoro (2:43), 4. Cominciano i Problemi (2:52), 5. Ninna Nanna Per Adulteri (3:04), 6. Quartetto (2:12), 7. Ouverture del Mattino (5:22), 8. Cominciano i Problemi (Versione 2) (3:25), 9. Ninna Nanna Per Adulteri (Versione 2) (4:06), 10. Suoni Per Un Clavicembalo (1:24), 11. Ricominciano Gravi, I Problemi (2:55), 12. Marcia del Generale Graziosi (1:24), 13. Ninna Nanna Per Adulteri (Versione 3) (3:48), 14. Ricominciano Gravi, I Problemi (Versione 2) (4:50), 15. La Sveglia (Versione 2) (2:21), 16. Ninna Nanna Per Adulteri (Versione 4) (3:15), 17. Ricreazione Divertita (Finale) (2:00). Saimel, 52 minutes 10 seconds.

 

SCUSI, FACCIAMO L’AMORE [LISTEN, LET’S MAKE LOVE] (1969)

Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore? – internationally released as Listen, Let’s Make Love – is an Italian romantic comedy written and directed by Vittorio Caprioli. Pierre Clémenti stars as Lallo di San Marciano, who moves from Naples to Milan after the death of his tailor father, who left him nothing other than a set of elegant dresses, Lallo is welcomed into the home of his uncle Carlo, and begins using the dresses as an excuse to get close to several of his aunt Lidia’s friends – one of whom, the beautiful Ida (Claudine Auger), becomes the first of several sexual partners.

Morricone’s score is based around two recurring themes – the title track “Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore?” and “A Lidia”, Almost every cue is a variation on one of these two themes; “Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore?” is a lilting piece of lounge jazz for flutes, guitars, and percussion, enlivened by a breathy, near-orgasmic female vocalization that one should not listen to in polite company. “A Lidia,” on the other hand, is a more strident but still romantic piece of Euro-jazz for stronger pianos, stronger percussion licks, thrusting strings, and yet more enticing vocals, making da-de-da noises with a come-hither tone of voice.

The best arrangements of “Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore?” theme include the slightly off-kilter harpsichord version in “Between the Sheets,” the heavy rock stylings in “From Bed to Worse,” the dance-like and charming “Take Me Now,” the Mendelssohn-inspired waltz version in “To the Altar and Back,” and the groovy and finger-snapping “The Big One”.

Meanwhile, the subsequent performances of “A Lidia” are almost straight reprises, although the third version does have a sort of reflective, downcast attitude that offers a different tone, and features a prominent marimba. One or two cues do break the mold – “Passion Play” and “Two Cigarettes” feature whimpering noises and shuddering vocalization parts of which border on the obscene, while “Various Troubles” is a little abstract and dissonant, featuring odd sound effects and weirdly-phrased strings

The 2001 soundtrack release of the score on the GDM label is a essentially straight reissue of the original vinyl LP, with a couple of bonus tracks; the 2015 2-CD release pairs Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore with music from one of Morricone’s 1968 scores, Ruba al Prossimo Tuo.

Track Listing: 1. Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore? – Original Single Version (1:56), 2. A Lidia – Original Single Version (3:15), 3. Between the Sheets (1:01), 4. From Bed to Worse (2:23), 5. Take Me Now (1:19), 6. Dog Up A Tree (2:24), 7. A Lidia #2 (4:33), 8. To the Altar and Back (1:32), 9. After the Party (2:32), 10. Passion Play (1:33), 11. Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore? #2 (2:01), 12. Lay Down, I Think I Love You (3:45), 13. Various Troubles (2:06), 14. Knowing the Ins and Outs (1:00), 15. A Lidia #3 (2:36), 16. Two Cigarettes (2:13), 17. The Big One (2:22), 18. Scusi, Facciamo l’Amore? #3 (2:27), 19. A Lidia – Finale (3:19). GDM Music 2028, 44 minutes 17 seconds

 

H2S (1969)

H2S is an Italian science-fiction fantasy, written and directed by Roberto Faenza (with whom Morricone previously worked on Escalation in 1968), and starring Lionel Stander and Denis Gilmore. Ostensibly the film is about a student revolt at a university in a futuristic society where individualism is forbidden, but in reality the film is an excuse of Faenza to engage in a series of peculiar, abstract, surreal vignettes which criticize the political and social climate in Italy in late 1960s. The film was banned in its home country upon release, and has rarely been shown since, making is one of the most obscure entries in Morricone’s filmography. (The title, H2S, is of course the chemical compound symbol for hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous and corrosive that eats away at everything it touches – and is a metaphor for the society in Faenza’s film.

There has never been a legitimate soundtrack release of the score for H2S, meaning it is one of the most obscure soundtracks of Morricone’s entire early career. However, oddly the standalone main theme from the film has become quite popular in recent years, as a result of Morricone playing it regularly in concerts, and it appearing on several compilations. I first came across it when it was included on the 1999 album ‘Cinema Concerto a Santa Cecilia’ and I was enormously impressed – it builds from a cheerful, slightly comedic piano riff to encompass renaissance-style brass, dancing strings, and chimes, in an uplifting and uncharacteristically jolly way.

A second cue from the score, called “Luna Canadese,” also appears on several compilation albums, notably the 2005 EMI album Love Themes. The rest of the score, according to people who have seen the film, is quite peculiar, and is filled with abstract and dissonant pieces for strings and keyboards, plus odd musique-concrete style sound effects. Whatever the case may be, I certainly hope the whole thing sees the light of day at some point, because the main “H2S” theme is delightful and deserves to be more widely known.

 

GOTT MIT UNS [THE FIFTH DAY OF PEACE] (1969)

Gott Mitt Uns, also known as The Fifth Day of Peace in English or Dio è Con Noi in Italian, is a World War II-era drama directed by Giuliano Montaldo, starring Richard Johnson, Michael Goodliffe, and Bud Spencer. The film is based on the true story of two German soldiers, Bruno Grauber (Franco Nero) and Rainer Schultz (Larry Aubrey), who were executed by their comrades in a Canadian-run prisoner of war camp in Amsterdam in May 1945, after being found guilty of cowardice and desertion by fellow POWs.

To capture the terrible circumstances that Grauber and Schultz found themselves in, Morricone decided to score a lot of Gott Mit Uns with harsh dissonance. A large part of the score – one could easily say too much – features harshly abstract noises, stark string marches, machine gun sound effects, martial drums, and plucked guitars all of which come together in a collision of sound that is difficult to like. Numerous long cues feature this music almost exclusively, including the opening “Titoli di Testa,” and subsequent cues such as “Corsa Disperata,” “Un Cielo Senza Aerei,” “Incarcerati,” “Una Questione Di Principio,” All’Alba Del Quinto Giorno,” and the conclusive “Percussioni e Marcia (Titoli Di Coda)”. I understand what Morricone was doing here, but even with the knowledge of what he was aiming to convey with music, I find myself longing to move past these tracks whenever them come on.

Thankfully, the saving grace of Gott Mit Us is the “Lontano” theme a wistful, faraway theme with a regretful undertone that offers a bittersweet memory of home for the German soldiers at the heart of the story. The theme is written for melancholy strings and a prepared piano, and its two performances in “Versione Disco” and “Versione Film” are the most well-rounded concert arrangement of the it. Later, there is a lovely statement in “Nostalgia di Casa”, while the conclusive “Arrangiamento 1974” Morricone adds guitars and steel drums into the instrumental mix, in an odd but compelling choice. Note: the ‘Versione Disco’ thankfully has nothing to do with 1970s dance craze, and jus differentiates between the album and in-film versions of the cue.

One other cue worth noting is “Prigionieri,” an action sequence wherein Morricone underpins the dissonances with a swirling string ostinato and wandering muted brass. “Erika:” and “La Guerra e Finita!” are raucous drinking songs piece sung in German, while “In Cella” is a cue featuring nothing but a man whistling.

Gott Mit Uns is a difficult score to recommend because so much of it is so unpalatable; so much so, I would even go so far as to just seek out a good version of “Lontano,” because that’s really the only part of the score worth hearing. If you must experience the whole thing, the 2004 CD release from Dagored offers the most comprehensive presentation.

Track Listing: 1. Lontano – Versione Disco (4:26), 2. Gott Mit Uns – Titoli di Testa (1:08), 3. Prigionieri (1:51), 4. Corsa Disperata (1:19), 5. All’erta-Torrette d’Osservazione (0:51), 6. Nostalgia di Casa (1:16), 7. Erika (0:47), 8. Lontano – Versione Film (4:43), 9. Incarcerati (1:39), 10. Il Capitano Miller (0:26), 11. Riunione Degli Ufficiali (1:10), 12. Incarcerati-Secondo (1:39), 13. Un Cielo Senza Aerei (1:32), 14. Corte Marziale (0:46), 15. La Guerra e Finita! (1:06), 16. Discussione Col Generale (0:32), 17. In Cella (0:28), 18. Nostalgia Delle Donne (0:41), 19. Una Questione di Principio (2:45), 20. La Promozione (0:14), 21. La Decisione (0:58), 22. All’Alba del Quinto Giorno (2:11), 23. Percussioni e Marcia – Titoli di Coda (1:58), 24. Lontano – Arrangiamento 1974 (3:48). Dagored RED151-2, 38 minutes 14 seconds.

 

FRÄULEIN DOKTOR (1969)

Fräulein Doktor is a spy film directed by Alberto Lattuada (who previously worked with Morricone on Matchless in 1967), loosely based on the life of the real-life World War I undercover agent Elsbeth Schragmüller. Suzy Kendall plays the title role, a seductive espionage expert who uses her intellect, her wits, and her sexuality to uncover military secrets all over Europe on behalf of the Germans – all while the dogged British counter-intelligence agent Colonel Foreman (Kenneth More) tries to stop her. The film features Capucine, Giancarlo Giannini, and Nigel Green in supporting roles, but was banned in some countries upon its release – it has everything from lesbian love scenes, to depictions World War I trench warfare that veer into body horror territory – and has fallen into almost complete obscurity since then.

Morricone’s score for the film falls mainly into two styles: beautiful, classical, elegant romance scoring that relates to the Fräulein Doktor herself, and dissonant, overwhelming music to illustrate the horrors of war. The theme that most people will be drawn to is the Fräulein Doktor theme, which first appears in “Fräulein Doktor on Board the Ship,” and then is re-stated more fully “Fräulein Doktor at the Hotel,” “Champagne and Morphine,” and others. This is truly one of Morricone’s most beautiful themes, in which strings and piano and harpsichord combine in the most gorgeous of ways. Later, “Fräulein Doktor and Dr. Saforet” and “Lesbian Love Scene” underscore the controversial moment when the Fräulein seduces a female chemist so she can obtain a secret formula from her on behalf of the Germans; after some unsettling and hesitant harpsichord passages, the full romance theme emerges again in all its glory, and I especially love how Morricone scored these scenes identically, irrespective of whether the Fräulein was using her guiles on a man or a woman.

On the other hand, the music for the horrors of war sees Morricone at his most challenging and dissonant. Beginning with the “Opening Titles,” Morricone’s music here is unsettling and difficult, filled with nerve-shredding string sustains, rattling percussion ideas, and machine gun sound effects. There are also some moments of tension and suspense too, in cues such as “Disembarking from the Submarine,” “The Watchmaker,” “The Sinking of the Hampshire,” and “The Safe and the Map,” which use string sustains overlaid with nervous tinkling pianos, harpsichords, and snare drum riffs, to underscore the Fräulein as she undertakes the most dangerous parts of her mission.

Other cues of note include “Berlin: At the Restaurant,” an impressionistic, vivid writing for a string quartet, and “Reception at the Embassy,” a lovely piece of classical pastiche.

The film’s big set piece comes in “The Poison Gas Battle at Ypres,” which is sensational – a huge, unstoppable combination of anguished screeching strings, roiling percussion tattoos, screaming brass, guttural choral outbursts, and multiple moments of stark orchestral dissonance. This all comes together to underscore the final scene where – having successfully completed her mission and given the Germans the chemical formula for poison gas – the Fräulein Doktor witnesses them unleashing a gas attack on soldiers in the opposing trenches, with naturally ghastly results. The aftermath of this event causes the Doktor to see the error of her ways, but go insane in the process, distraught by the horror she had indirectly inflicted. The conclusive “Fräulein Doktor Insanity and End Titles” revisits the gorgeous romantic main theme for the final time; elegant, classical, Morricone at his tender and emotional best

The soundtrack, released by the Italian Legend label in 2010 comes with an unhesitating recommendation – the only drawback being the archival sound quality, which is at times quite poor and leaves something to be desired. This one issue aside, Fräulein Doktor is an undiscovered Morricone masterpiece, featuring one of his most beautiful love themes, some of his most challenging dissonance, and a sensational two-cue 11-minute finale that has to be heard to be believed.

Track Listing: 1. Opening Titles (2:26), 2. Disembarking from the Submarine (1:08), 3. Fräulein Doktor on Board the Ship (0:44), 4. Fräulein Doktor at the Hotel (2:22), 5. The Watchmaker (1:54), 6. The Sinking of the Hampshire (2:23), 7. Fräulein Doktor and Dr. Saforet (2:21), 8. Lesbian Love Scene (2:40), 9. Berlin: At the Restaurant (1:38), 10. Champagne and Morphine (1:27), 11. Reception at the Embassy (1:41), 12. The Safe and the Map (1:08), 13. Ruppert Escape (2:03), 14. The Poison Gas Battle at Ypres (8:40), 15. Fräulein Doktor Insanity and End Titles (3:03). Legend CD34-DLX, 35 minutes 38 seconds.

 

LA DONNA INVISIBILE [THE INVISIBLE WOMAN] (1969)

La Donna Invisibile is an Italian drama film written and directed by Paolo Spinola and starring Giovanna Ralli and Carla Gravina. Ralli plays Laura, whose relationship with her husband Andrea (Silvano Tranquilli) has deteriorated to such an extent that she feels she can see through her body, almost as though she does not exist. Although she is deeply in love with him, all his attentions are directed towards Delfina (Gravina), another woman who lives at home with them. As time passes, Laura starts to question her own sanity, and wonders whether she has become entirely invisible.

Morricone’s score for the film is one of his more subtle ones, presenting a series of relaxing lounge music jazz tracks for orchestra, vocals, and jazz combo. The score often makes use of bossa nova, samba, and Euro-pop beats and grooves, giving it a very 1960s style, but it’s very richly textured, often just presenting simple repeated chords in a calm, relaxing manner . It’s also quite clever in the way he often uses little piano and string motifs that just sound a little off-kilter, not quite right, alluding to the rather precarious mental state of the protagonist Laura.

The title cue “La Donna Invisibile,” is gentle and softly romantic, but a little bittersweet, offering strings, piano and a jazz combo featuring a prominent muted trumpet. “Ritratto d’Autore” picks up a more contemporary guitar-led bossa-nova vibe, which plays an interesting staccato piano theme with a very clever, slightly anxious edge. “Silenziosamente” is almost hypnotic in the way it explores the simple music relationship between strings and a plucked bass. “La Moda” is a soft rock/pop intrumental with some terrific writing for trumpet and Hammond organ. The great Edda Dell’Orso lends her unmistakable voice to the seductive trio “In Un Sogn Il Sogno,” “Alla Serenitá,” and “Un Bacio,” the second of which is actually the film’s main title.

The whole thing is very appealing, and definitely enjoyable, but also very typical of his mid-1960s romantic style, and won’t offer anything particularly new or unique to anyone familiar with his other works of the period. The best soundtrack release of score is the one released in 2000 by Dagored, which takes the original 10-track vinyl LP program, and adds four bonus alternate cues, taking the running time to just under an hour.

Track Listing: 1. La Donna Invisibile (6:46), 2. Ritratto d’Autore (5:04), 3. Silenziosamente (3:15), 4. Eros Profondo (4:08), 5. In Un Sogn Il Sogno (3:18), 6. Mille Ricordi (3:07), 7. Alla Serenitá (5:24), 8. La Moda (3:30), 9. Un Bacio (5:55), 10. Incontro Trasversale (5:06), 11. Ritratto d’Autore (Alternate Version) (5:29), 12. Alla Serenitá (Titoli – Movie Version) (1:53), 13. La Moda (Alternate Version 1) (2:24), 14. La Moda (Alternate Version 2) (2:48). Dagored RED109-2, 58 minutes 07 seconds.

 

L’ASSOLUTO NATURALE (1969)

L’Assuluto Naturale is an Italian drama film directed by Mauro Bolognini, and was the first of 14 films that he and Morricone worked on together. The surreal, montage-like plot focuses on a mysterious romance involving an uninhibited woman (Sylvia Koscina) and a dour photographer (Laurence Harvey), who take off on road trip through Italy in a sports car, having random sexual encounters with people they meet along the way. This type of seemingly arbitrary road movie structure became very popular in Europe at that time, inspiring a multitude of homages that looked at sex, promiscuity, and relationships in a similarly freewheeling way.

Morricone’s score is very much rooted in his 1960s jazz style, and offers a series of soft, intimate instrumentals for orchestra and jazz combo, playing in a series of languid and laid-back ways. There’s not much recurring thematic content to speak of, but several cues do stand out as being especially enjoyable. The title trak “L’Assoluto Naturale” is very much like that, a pretty and summery theme that gets passed around between bass flutes, Hammond organ, and strings. The subsequent “Sempre Più Verità” and is a little more urgent, with a introductory rhythmic section that sounds for all the world like the intro to ‘Come on Eileen’ and a prominent staccato piano that eventually establishes itself as the score’s main recurring thematic idea.

Later, “È Facile” is beguilingly romantic, with a soft flute melody at its core. “Studio di Colore” has a more insistent jazz feeling, repeating the main theme, but blending it with a more toe-tapping arrangement for tapped hi-hats and a muted trumpet. This then continues on into subsequent tracks like “Il Profumo Della Tua Pelle,” “Amare Assolutamente,” “È la Solita Storia,” and “I’Estate è Vicina,” where the rhythmic theme is often carried by a piano, and which occasionally grow to quite impressively fulsome heights.

Only the conclusive “Assalito Dalle Rondini” stands out as being markedly different; here, Morricone engages in some quite dissonant writing for layers of aggressive, agitated, anguished strings, underscoring the film’s peculiar and poetically violent finale.

The album for L’Assoluto Naturale was originally released on LP by Cinevox in 1969, and then reissued on CD several times in Italy and Japan. Probably the best version is the one released by Quartet Records in 2013, which features re-mastered sound, and seven bonus tracks.

Track Listing: 1. L’Assoluto Naturale (3:36), 2. Sempre Più Verità (2:50), 3. È Facile (2:22), 4. Calde Occhiate (1:50), 5. Studio di Colore (1:11), 6. Il Profumo Della Tua Pelle (2:03), 7. Laboriosamente (6:50), 8. Sembravi Desiderare (2:40), 9. Amare Assolutamente (3:59), 10. È la Solita Storia (1:02), 11. Imparare a Conoscere (4:06), 12. I’Estate è Vicina (2:59), 13. Assalito Dalle Rondini (5:34), 14. Il Profumo Della Tua Pelle (Ballata per Organo) (2:17) BONUS, 15. È Facile (Nella Sensualità, l’Attesa) (1:33) BONUS, 16. Assalito Dalle Rondini (Tensione Infernale) (6:11) BONUS, 17. Sempre Più Verità (Sviluppo in Beat) (2:51) BONUS, 18. Calde Occhiate (Sospettoso Erotico) (6:29) BONUS, 19. L’Estate è Vicina (Riflessi dell’Anima) (1:37) BONUS, 20. L’Assoluto Naturale (Ricercare, Amare) (3:32) BONUS. Quartet MS-017, 65 minutes 32 seconds

 

LA STAGIONE DEI SENSI (1969)

La Stagione dei Sensi is an Italian comedy-drama directed by Massimo Franciosa and written by Dario Argento. It tells the story of six teenagers – four girls (Edda Di Benedetto, Laura Belli, Eva Thulin, and Susanne von Sass) and two boys (Gaspare Zola and Ugo Adinolfi) who take a trip on motorboat, and become stranded on an island when they run out of gasoline. There they meet the reclusive Luca (Udo Kier), who hides a dark secret, and introduces the innocent youths to a world of mystery, sensuality, and eroticism.

Morricone’s score is unusual in that it is comprised mostly of original songs rather than score; three beat/pop songs ( “Gloria”, “Tell Me Tell Me”, and “Laila Laila”) performed in Italian by Patrick Samson in a vocal style that only be described as ‘aggressively constipated’, and two lounge/symphonic compositions featuring the unmistakable vocals of Edda Dell’Orso (“Una Voce Allo Specchio,” the gorgeously ethereal “Sospendi Il Tempo”).

Morricone’s actual score I limited to just three cues: the groovy and enticing “Sytar”, which uses Indian ragas along with romantic orchestral strings to create an unusually compelling sound; “Dinamica Per 5+1,” which is unusual, gloomy, and apparently almost entirely improvised, comprising a series of unusual textures for bass guitar, percussion, piano, and a trumpet that is undergoing some sort of unspeakable torture; and “In Tre Quarti,” a lush and beautiful waltz that cleanses the score like a warm breeze.

My choice for the best release of the soundtrack is the CD release from British label Curci, which pairs is with five tracks from the film Vergogna Schifosi; there is also a 2008 release on the Fin de Siècle label which pairs both scores with music from the 1968 film Theorem. Overall, this is a weird one; good as a curio, and especially worthwhile if you’re an Edda dell’Orso aficionado.

Track Listing: 1. Gloria (3:40), 2. Una Voce Allo Specchio 1 (2:57), 3. Sytar (3:33), 4. Tell Me Tell Me (2:50), 5. Sospendi Il Tempo (1:56), 6. Laila Laila (8:05), 7. Una Voce Allo Specchio 2 (1:03), 8. Dinamica Per 5+1 (4:51), 9. In Tre Quarti (2:08). Curci CU-005, 31 minutes 03 seconds.

 

LES CLAN DES SICILIENS [THE SICILIAN CLAN] (1969)

Les Clan des Siciliens – The Sicilian Clan – is a French gangster film based on a novel by Auguste Le Breton, directed by the great Henri Verneuil. It stars Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, and Alain Delon, and tells the story of a young and ambitious mobster who plans who an elaborate diamond heist, and then seduces the daughter of a ruthless mob box, all while trying to avoid the attentions of a determined police commissioner trying to end the crime spree.

Morricone’s score is dominated by the recurring main theme, “Il Clan dei Siciliani,” which sounds like it should be from one of his famous Spaghetti westerns rather than a mafia movie, but it’s just as great; a languid, nonchalant, almost insolent theme for electric guitar, Jew’s harp, percussion and a swooning string orchestra. The score features a number of interesting variations, including one in “Dialogo No.1” featuring Alessandro Alessandrini’s iconic whistle, and a couple of slightly more urgent and dynamic ones in “Jeanne e la Spiaggia” “Dialogo No.2” which really enhances the film’s overall noir mood.

When the main theme is not in full prominence, Morricone finds time to also contribute a superb piece of contemporary lounge jazz source music in Snack Bar,” a wonderfully vigorous piece of blistering action chase music in “Tema per le Goff,” and some tension-ratcheting suspense music in cues like “Mostra dei Gioielli,” which also uses the Jew’s harp to excellent effect.

The soundtrack release, on CAM Records, is only half an hour in length, initially came out in 1996 under its Italian-language title Il Clan dei Siciliani, and was re-issued again in 2005, but as far as I can tell has never or expanded in any way, and as such remains oddly under-the radar. The Sicilian Clan is definitely worth investigating, though, for its fascinating blend of styles, and especially for its memorable main theme.

Track Listing: 1. Il Clan dei Siciliani (3:36), 2. Snack Bar (2:24), 3. Mostra dei Gioielli (2:50), 4. Dialogo No. 1 (3:16), 5. Jeanne e la Spiaggia (3:15), 6. Dialogo No. 2 (3:21), 7. Tema per le Goff (3:11), 8. Per Nazzari e Delon (2:22), 9. Tema Itallano No. 2 (1:31), 10. Francobolli (2:23), 11. Il Clan dei Siciliani (Finale) (2:23). CAM 493098-2, 30 minutes 32 seconds.

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