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The Grim Reaper (1962) More at IMDbPro »La commare secca (original title)

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Release Date:
6 May 1982 (USA) See more »
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Plot:
Near the Tiber river, in a Roman park, a prostitute was killed. The police tracks down people that were inside the park during that night... See more » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
Bertolucci's slightly odd debut See more (13 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order)
Francesco Ruiu ... Canticchia
Giancarlo De Rosa ... Nino
Vincenzo Ciccora ... Mayor
Alfredo Leggi ... Bostelli
Gabriella Giorgelli ... Esperia
Santina Lisio ... Esperia's mother
Carlotta Barilli ... Serenella
Ada Peragostini ... Maria
Clorinda Celani ... Soraya
Allen Midgette ... Teodoro, the soldier
Renato Troiani ... Natalino
Wanda Rocci ... Prostitute
Marisa Solinas ... Bruna
Alvaro D'Ercole ... Francolicchio
Romano Labate ... Pipito
Emi Rocci ... Domenica
Lorenza Benedetti ... Milly
Erina Torelli ... Mariella
Silvio Laurenzi ... Homosexual
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elena Fontana ... (uncredited)
Maria Fontana ... (uncredited)
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Directed by
Bernardo Bertolucci 
 
Writing credits
Pier Paolo Pasolini (story)

Pier Paolo Pasolini (screenplay) &
Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay) &
Sergio Citti (screenplay)

Produced by
Tonino Cervi .... producer (as Antonio Cervi)
 
Original Music by
Piero Piccioni 
Carlo Rustichelli 
 
Cinematography by
Giovanni Narzisi 
 
Film Editing by
Nino Baragli 
 
Costume Design by
Adriana Spadaro 
 
Production Management
Rodolfo Martello .... production supervisor
Ugo Tucci .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Adolfo Cagnacci .... assistant director
 
Sound Department
Alessandro Fortini .... sound (as Sandro Fortini)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Emanuele Di Coti .... chief lighting technician
Orlando Dolci .... key grip
Emilio Giannini .... camera operator
Enrico Umetelli .... assistant camera
Franco Valente .... assistant camera
 
Editorial Department
Sergio Montanari .... assistant editor
 
Other crew
Franco Carnevali .... script supervisor
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"La commare secca" - Italy (original title)
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Runtime:
88 min
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Language:
Sound Mix:

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Movie Connections:
Referenced in An Opera of Violence (2003) (V)See more »

FAQ

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Bertolucci's slightly odd debut, 2 April 2014
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California

La commare secca is an interesting film that students of Sixties cinema, particularly Italian, must see. It's neither a forgettable oddity as some say nor a small masterpiece as others do. It is an artifact of Italian cinema, an early example of Bertolucci, and an offshoot of Pasolini. Pasolini provided the "soggetto", the story-theme, and Bertolucci and Pasolini's collaborator and Roman dialect coach Sergio Citti wrote the screenplay, which Bertolucci, terrified and inexperienced at only 21, got so shoot because Pasolini had gone on to make Mamma Roma, but the producers demanded a "Pasolnian" film. (This and much more you'll get from Bertolucci's 2003 interview for the Criterion edition of this film.) But Bertolucci sought to shoot in a very fluid, kinetic style, camera always in motion, to detach his style from Pasolnii's "frontal" imagery influenced by the Tuscan Primitives. Bertolucci had not seen Kurosawa's Rashomon, but may have known of it; anyway everybody calls this a "Rashomon film," including Bertolucci in the interview. The film does go repeatedly over the same period of time (introduced by the start of a heavy rainstorm) as lived by a series of people who were in the park where the crime took place, the murder of a prostitute. They are all suspects or witnesses who are being questioned by an unseen cop at the police station, and what we see are their experiences which often ironically contradict what they have just claimed earlier. They're nearly all liars and thieves and lowlifes of one authentic Roman kind or another.

But here the similarity to Rashomon ends, and the weakness of Bertolucci's film begins. However interesting and in some cases haunting, creepy, and Pasolinian the episodes are, they are not different tellings of the crime story at all. They emerge as a series of shaggy dog stories, because they mostly take us nowhere in solving the crime or describing it. Hence, La commare secca is poorly constructed. The framework does not unify the episodes, nor do they draw us with increasing excitement as Rashomon does to a desire to understand what actually happened. And we don't see events retold differently. The events are mostly unrelated, though paths cross, as in many films, such as Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing. Each episode is vivid and interesting in its own way. But they begin to seem so random it's easy to become impatient and bored. Things look up when we get to the soldier, a good-looking rustic with a goofy smile who begins to seem retarded, maybe dangerous. And they look up more with the two teenage boys with their "fiances," who become hysterical with guilt and fear, leading to tragedy. At this point the action seems haunting. But then the final sequences are obvious. We know who the killer is. We just don't know that this act too is connected to an attempted theft -- the connecting thread, perhaps, but not one that's made clear enough, being that everybody's getting in trouble in this park by trying to steal something.

As has been pointed out, some of the non-actors are good but some violently overact, and some of the post-dubbing works but some is shrill and/or out of synch. The fluid camera-work, which Bertolucci claims as his idea, is fun to watch. The film never runs out of kinetic steam. Obviously this is polished work with excellent cinematography by Giovanni Narzisi, editing by Nino Baragli, and music by Piero Piccioni and Carlo Rustichelli contributing to the outward sheen. But the screenplay is the weak point with its lack of a unifying conception. Though Bertolucci uses the word "thriller" in the interview, we never get the feeling till the end that we're on the verge of solving the crime, nor are the string of petty crimes and personal clashes suspenseful or exciting enough to be worthy of the term. La commare secca, despite its fluency and lively action, comes to seem an unsuccessful example of the Italian omnibus films of the Sixties -- one that, unlike the ones with Mastroianni and Loren, or Pasolini's early-Seventies trilogy from Bocaccio, Chaucer, and the 1001 Nights, doesn't quite hold together as a unit. I wonder what Pasolini himself would have done with it.

Anyway, two years later Bertolucci made the semi-autobiographical Before the Revolution, his real first film, emerging as an exciting young European intellectual filmmaker. Pauline Kael called his youth at this time "astonishing" and described this second film as "a sweepingly romantic movie about a young man's rebellion against bourgeois life and his disillusion with Communism." Then would come The Conformist, The Spider's Stratagem, Last Tango in Paris, and Bertolucci would be put on the map once and for all as an important filmmaker, who happily has now (2014) gotten back to work after a decade-long hiatus.

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