Henri Verneuil is one of Ennio Morricone’s favorite French directors. They worked together for quite a few movies and these days we are getting releases of the scores for some of them. “La casse” (“The Burglars”) is a movie starring one of the most talked about names in our house when I was a kid, Jean Paul Belmondo, who plays the part of a burglar antagonizing a corrupt policemen played by the late Omar Sharif.
I’ve said it before but I grew up on French police movies so their sound is imprinted very deeply in my memory. That melodic, romantic and playful music is as dear to me as the memory of the park I used to play in near my grandparent’s house. Nostalgia level is very high both with this simple and ironic sound as well as with everything Ennio Morricone writes. The piano which sounds almost broken and the soft and catchy percussion which caress our ears from the opening credits are as familiar to me as the voices of my parents. The music instantly transports me to a safe and relaxing place, a place without restrains and responsibilities, a place where I could be in a park and see Belmondo sneaker from under a short leather jacket and a beret.
I think this sound that Morriconne created is evwen more precious than his spaghetti western inventions. The music works for drama, romance or action because it’s universal. The music is also connected to that period and to Europe and I couldn’t imagine a score like “La casse” for an American movie. This is a stamp of our continent, like Le Tour Eiffel or The collosseum.
Maestro Ennio doesn’t forget to have fun as well. A cue like “La fille a la frange” is a riot of fun and playfulness with the broken piano reminiscent of saloon and the more hilarious tunes from his Western scores. There’s also a dash of 30s cabaret music in this and I find myself laughing with a full mouth as I hear the cue.
But yes it’s all about the romance. This is music to fall in love on, to dream on, to go on vacation on with the one you love and watch the sunset under a gentle breeze. Just try and listen to “Ciao Mantovani” with your eyes closed and see what pops up in your mind. The entire score is a snow globe frozen in the Romantic era of European movies, be they action flicks like this one. Morricone’s music is the right serum to transport me back in time. It never fails and any shot of his music is enough to warm my heart and send me to a happy place.
Like with every Morricone score, you can’t go wrong. My words are useless and futile because this music speaks for itself.
Total minutes of excellence: