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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 »
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:
Superb Debut See more (14 total) »


  (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)

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

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

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

Did You Know?

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


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17 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
Superb Debut, 31 March 2004
Author: acerf from California

Even though for whatever strange reasons Bertolucci sliced three years from his age - it was originally claimed around the time of its release the Director was but 19 - La Commare Secca is a stunning debut for any film maker.

In a nutshell, then, here's the proposition and it's a grand one: Five suspects, (well, there is a "pair" of suspects in one instance) are questioned about a whore's murder. We all lie. So do they. The suspect's lying versions of events are depicted; reality as they would have it. All it happens, are guilty of something, as is everyone in this world, Bertolucci's point and almost never seized upon.

Frankly, this is also Bertolucci's best film. Throw out wholesale, such criticisms as: "not a bad try for a beginner," or, "better things were to follow," ...they weren't and they didn't ...

Economical use editing tricks as well as its compact run-time, mean that unlike the 'masterpieces,' The Spider's Stratagem, and especially, Before the Revolution, this film enjoys a continuity which - 60's (and his own) ethos aside - the masterpieces lacked. Though of course disjointed film-making was what was later intended in this director's canon, it hasn't aged well. It worked for Antonioni, (usually) and Fellini, (sometimes) and Italian cinema generally (with greatly uneven results), but it didn't work often, for our BB.

The performances - in some scenes by real street urchins, are superior. All ring true, particularly when the second crook tells his 'version' of events. As the camera gives the lie to his protestations of innocence, we see through the casual violence of his life, the essential truth: most crime is fueled by boredom, rather than bad breaks or genetic disposition. And while photorealistic acting in the hands of say- late Al Pacino, is dry as dust, in this director's hands, his absolutely true-to-life observations are small beauties.

The haunting soundtrack - nice cliché, right? actually haunts. It works perfectly. It fulfills the purpose of a cinematic score - it enhances the film - frequently raising the dramatic stakes all on its lonesome.

Particularly memorable, is that in this movie, background details are utilized for their own sake. Unlike Antonioni's Ecclise for example, where 'incidental' detail is of course the real foreground detail, Bertolucci's approach seems to be: While such details don't bear on the story, why not use them to best effect? Indeed, why not?

Thus, in some ways overshadowing all others, the teenage dance party and the "two boys two girls" scenes of innocence that precede it, are simply indescribably hypnotic. Seldom has the big screen been graced with such perfect realizations of adolescence. The facial expressions of the girls when the boys refuse to dance are not only peculiar to Europe - there are no comparable expressions on the faces of young America ... but, as the world becomes a common, drag-filled strip mall, such pulled faces may soon - like certain Italian dialects, (Milanese) be extinct.

My only beefs are for a scene in which an Italian boy takes to the Tiber to elude the police; the actual outcome of his swim is not made clear, indeed I had to see the thing twice to understand. And two ... when the villain, the murderer, is caught, it is without any twists - he was simply one of the suspects and he did it. There are no red herrings, no surprise innocence or guilt He DID it. Minor gripes.

This film, while regarded a poor sister to Bertolucci's alleged later masterpieces, is truly Before the Revolution - the title of his next film, a, yep, 'masterpiece' that isn't. Like so much of art generally, and unhappily film especially, cute proclivities in Commare Secca, all-to-soon became compulsive and dull, mannerisms.

A Director too often lauded and far too often castigated (Pauline Kael's insane rants against Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man) this film is a confident tour-de-force of very young film maker as virtuoso.

A spectacular must see.

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