La commare secca

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
La commare secca
Directed byBernardo Bertolucci
Screenplay byBernardo Bertolucci
Sergio Citti
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Based onLa commare secca
by Pier Paolo Pasolini
Produced byAntonio Cervi
StarringMarisa Solinas
Allen Midgette
Giancarlo De Rosa
Alfredo Leggi
CinematographyGiovanni Narzisi
Edited byNino Baragli
Music byPiero Piccioni
Carlo Rustichelli
Release date
19 September 1962
Running time
88 minutes

La commare secca (literally "The skinny gossip", English title The Grim Reaper) is a 1962 Italian film written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, based on a short story by Pier Paolo Pasolini.[1] It was Bertolucci's directorial debut at age 21.


The story is very similar to Akira Kurosawa's influential Rashomon, though in an interview Bertolucci denied having seen that film at the time.

The film begins with the brutal image of a prostitute's corpse on the bank of the Tiber in Rome. We then see a series of interrogations of suspects by the police, all of whom are known to have been in a nearby park at the time of the murder. Each suspect recounts his activities during the day and evening, and each narrative serves as a slice of life story. A young man tells the police that he was meeting with priests in order to get a job recommendation, though we see that he and his friends spent the time trying to rob lovers in the park. A gigolo treats both his girlfriends badly. A soldier fails in his attempts at picking up a number of women and falls asleep on a park bench. Two teenage boys share a pleasant afternoon in the company of two teenage girls but end up stealing from a homosexual man in the park.

The final flashback depicts the prostitute's murder by a man in clogs who had been interrogated previously and who is finally apprehended at a dance.

Each narrative is interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm, which in each case leads to an interlude at the prostitute's apartment as she prepares for her evening.

Critical reception[edit]

'Segnalazioni cinematografiche' found the film's ambition to adapt the work to "the most Pasolinian atmosphere and context of the marginal Rome' led to a "rather modest result".[1]

Critic John Simon called La commare secca "pure trash".[2]

Janet Maslin, in her retrospective review for the New York Times, states that the film " has enough rough edges to mark it unmistakably as a debut effort. It also has a sophistication that, from so young and inexperienced a film maker, is quite unexpected. Mr. Bertolucci gravitates instinctively to extremes here, shooting from the steepest, the broadest, the most eye-catching angle whenever he can. Even when these touches don't serve the narrative, that hardly matters. The narrative is always secondary to Mr. Bertolucci's very disciplined flamboyance."[3]


  1. ^ a b La commare secca (in Italian), retrieved 2023-07-31
  2. ^ Simon, John (1983). John Simon: Something to Declare Twelve Years Of Films From Abroad. Clarkson N. Potter Inc. p. 37.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1982-05-06). "SCREEN: 'LA COMMARE SECCA,' WHERE BERTOLUCCI BEGAN". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-07-31.

External links[edit]