Saimel Records proudly presents on this CD the complete original score by Carlo Rustichelli for the 1964 anti-war dama SETTE CONTRO LA MORTE (THE CAVERN) which was an Italian-German-American co-production starring a row of international actors from various countries: John Saxon, Rosanna Schiaffino, Larry Hagman, Peter Marshall, Nino Castelnuovo, Brian Aherne and Hans von Borsody. This was the last film of celebrated Austrian émigré director Edgar G. Ulmer who above all during the 1930s and 1940s had become known as "King of the Bs" in the USA and is nowadays primarily appreciated for his horror movie THE BLACK CAT from 1934 (with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi) and for his somber film noir classic DETOUR from 1945.
SETTE CONTRO LA MORTE was based on an idea which Ulmer had already had for many years – a group of soldiers of varying nationalities and allegiances who get entombed in a cave for several months during WWII – and premiered in Italy and Germany in 1964 whereas the slightly altered US version THE CAVERN appeared one year later in 1965 and also contained some additional music written by the American jazz composer Gene DiNovi (which of course is not on our CD).
The setting at the beginning of the film is Italy in September 1944 when WWII has not quite run its course: An aerial bombardement forces seven people (six men and one woman) of different nationalities and with different political views to take refuge in a deep mountain cave where they are soon trapped by an explosion which blows up the entrance. Despite all animosities, they try to cooperate with each other, but all attempts in trying to find a way out are doomed to failure.and the tensions increase ever more, also due of course to the presence of the woman Anna.
In 1964 Carlo Rustichelli was one of the busiest film composers in Italy and he was at the peak of his career with more than 20 film assignments for all kinds of genres by the end of that year. Despite all this hectic activity, he wrote most of his scores and also those for smaller productions with so much dedication and passion that his melodic inspiration almost never ceased. A case in point is SETTE CONTRO LA MORTE where his full-blooded symphonic music supports and enhances the picture with all the emotional power it needs. At the time of the film´s release in 1964 CAM had issued a nowadays top-rare 45rpm EP (CAM CEP.45-122) of Rustichelli´s score with just five tracks. Oddly enough, several of the most important cues of the complete score were not included on this EP – the most blatant example is the Main Title which contains a full statement of the sweeping love theme which with its melodic beauty is so typical of the composer´s inimitable style. It forms one of the main ingredients of the score as well as a nostalgic and poignant harmonica tune heard for the first time when the seven refugees bid good night to each other in their respective languages.
The dramatic part of the score is filled with suspense cues for piano, saxophone and percussion with a bolero-like rhythm and an incisive dramatic theme which gets fully developed and reaches almost operatic Wagnerian dimensions in the brilliant underscoring of the long sequence in which the Canadian soldier drowns in the underground river.
For many soundtrack fans SETTE CONTRO LA MORTE may be a largely forgotten film score nowadays, but it is another example of the immense melodic and dramatic talent of Carlo Rustichelli and worthy to be appreciated on this new CD.
- Saimel Records