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Soundtrack review: La garconniere (Mario Nascimbene – 1960)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: La garconniere (Mario Nascimbene – 1960)


“La garçonnière” (“The bachelor apartment”) is a 1960 Italian romance-drama film written and directed by Giuseppe De Santis. A building constructor repeatedly betrays his wife in an apartment he rented in a popular neighborhood. She pawns him, finds out the truth and leaves him. The couple will recover together, but things will never be the same again. The music was written by Mario Nascimbene, one of the most famous and prolific Italian composers of this century. This release is part of the Gold collection by Kronos Records which is an instant buy for me. As with many Italian scores from that period, there are no cue titles, just counted sequences.

Ah yes of course… I nod my head as I hear the first notes from this score: jazzy, sensual, almost inviting me to hide with them somewhere. As those who have read my thoughts before know, I am not the biggest fan of jazz scores. This isn’t one per se but the story demands these luscious moods which make me think of a bar late at night. The music is done right and I get in the mood very quickly.

Italian composers know romance like no others and “Sequence 4” is the first moment when I truly connect with this score. This intelligent cue also has some noir private detective mood in it and it takes me back to watching a lot of movies with this kind of characters. The music moves slowly as if to give the characters time to act and the motifs time to develop. This is the proper Italian romance but it has none of the joy and vivacity Italian composers usually inject their music with. The music serves the story and it does it well because even if I only read a small synopsis about this movie I am immersed in the mood it sets.

The more I listen to this score the more addicted I am to the dark sensual sound it develops. I love to get a smoky score like this every now and then. Yes the luscious moments can get a bit much at times but you know from the start what you are in for. There are very few instruments in this score but they each play their meaningful part and I can almost imagine all of them forgotten somewhere on the stage of a bar, playing eternally the same mood. The slow trumpet feature prominently and if you love that sound you will get your fix here.

“La garconiere” is a special score that never changes pace or mood and lures you into its sensual arms. If you want slow and luscious musical romance, this score is for you. It calmed me down and made me imagine a long and meaningful slow dance.

Cue rating: 84 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 12 / 53

Album excellence: 22%


Sequences 4,6,7,14, 19, 26, 27,

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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