Film scores

Soundtrack review: I diavoli de la guerra (Stelvio Cipriani – 1969)

“I diavoli de la guerra” (“War devils”) is a 1969 film starring Guy Madison, Venantino Venantini, Anthony Steel and Pascale Petit was directed by Bitto Albertini. In the film a German Captain (Venantini) and American Captain (Madison) help each other survive the North African desert during WWII. They meet again a year later during combat operations in France. The score was written by maestro Stelvio Cipriani and Kronos Records releases it for the first time as part of their Gold collection.

The military setting of the story is very clear from the beginning. The composer goes all in with marching sounds and solid percussion and a sense of urgency in the music. It seems the action starts very early and the listeners are thrown in the middle of the fight. Cipriani doesn’t waste time with introduction or setting of the soundscape, he just starts firing. The music is rich and exciting. “Desert march” gives me a nice dose of nostalgia for the times when I was a child hearing Ennio Morricone’s western scores. I am surprised that so far the score is very serious and quite dark, contrary to what I usually expect from an Italian composer. The beauty is restrained here and confined in metal cages.

Slowly among all these cues a theme raises its head. It’s the one in “Sacrifice”. It’s nice, serious and easy to remember. I am still waiting for a little romance and sweeping beauty in this score because I don’t believe there will ever be an Italian movie score without these elements. “Assembling the men” winks at me from a small bistro in Rome. What’s this delightful little gem doing among the soldiers? Ah the sweet feeling of vacation… The tone of the score lightens up a bit for the next few cues and we even get a lovely saloon piece in “Infiltration”.

That’s the beauty of the music of Italian composers. They always manage to insert something wonderful in their music regardless of the topic. Yes this score is more serious than I expected and has suspense and tension but that main theme and those interludes are enough to make this a very rewarding listen. I also find that nugget of romance I was sure I was going to get among the extras.

I think everyone will find something to relate to in “I diavoli de la Guerra”. Fans of simple military rhythms will be the happiest but I think any serious Italian film music aficionado should add this one to his or her collection.

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 16 / 45

Album excellence: 37%

Highlights:

Desert March

Marching On

Defusing The Mines

Assembling The Men

Rescuing The Prisoners

The Quick And The Dead

Finale

Romantic

Action 5

Organ 1

Organ 2

Piano

Desert March (Alt)

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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