Released in the December of 1969, IL DIAVALO DELLA GUERRA or THE WAR DEVILS is one of the better movies produced by Italy during the 1960,s that has its storyline set during WWll. It has a strong cast in the form of leading actors Guy Madison, Anthony Steel and Venantino Venantini and support from a whole load of familiar Italian movie stalwarts, with a short appearance at the films outset by John Ireland as an American officer, but don’t blink or you will most definitely miss him, but for me personally it is Venantini that steals the show as he portrays so convincingly a German officer, but saying this Madison too puts in a very good performance. The movie begins in 1943 in the desert campaign of North Africa, with a German security unit in pursuit of an American commando outfit under the command of Guy Madison. After a long pursuit the two units end up joining forces in an uneasy alliance in order to survive the crossing of the blistering desert. Because the German unit is better equipped and larger they in effect are holding the Americans prisoner but as they exit the desert the German commander decides to release his captives, but tells them in no uncertain terms that if he meets them again in combat he will kill them. A year later the American Captain is sent on a mission to rescue a British intelligence officer (Anthony Steel) who has been captured by the Germans and is being held captive by them in a fortified base and guess who is in command of this base? Yes you guessed it the same German commander who released Madison but vowed to kill him the next time he set eyes on him. An interesting plot and one that contains a few surprises and twists along the way, in essence we have here a movie that contains not one but two war stories, filled with action and also having a little romance on the side. Directed by Bitto Albertini WAR DEVILS is an entertaining movie that contains some convincing battle scenes especially the final shootout which is very much akin to the final battle from THE DIRTY DOZEN and also has certain affiliations to FIVE FROM HELL. The music for the picture is the work of Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani who came to prominence in film scoring via his Spaghetti western scores such as THE BOUNTY KILLER, A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN and music for the ALLELUJAH series of westerns. For this movie however the composer employs a sound and style that is very different from his forays into the western genre and includes striking use of brass to purvey an atmosphere of drama and martial sounding timpani that has to it a machine gun like sound in certain passages. I at first thought the style achieved here was very much like the music of fellow Italian Maestro Francesco De Masi, when he worked on films such as LA BATTAGLIA D’INGHILTERRA and the original INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978).
Cipriani utilises a grand sound that is perfectly suited to the battle scenes and the wonderful cinematography of the movie, it is expansive and highly expressive in its make up and underlines not only the action but is also extremely supportive during the films quieter and more suspenseful moments, plus the composer also provides the film with a romantic sound that is reminiscent of the golden days of Hollywood with surging strings and highly emotive melodies in fact I suppose the composer has created a score that in the main hails from the Italian school of film music through and through, but at the same times contains attributes that are uninfluenced by the more traditional war movie scoring styles as employed by Hollywood. This is yet another musical gem from Italian cinema and also an interesting and alluring addition to Kronos records growing Gold Series that has preserved some of Italian film music’s lesser known but fine works, which I am sure would have been lost forever or left to languish in dusty vaults forever. Presented well with striking art work and informative notes. Another for your collection, available for pre order now.