Macaroni Combat: A History

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From this idiom coined by Quentin Tarantino, and aided by my teenage passion (who said playing soldiers on the beach??), I felt compelled to do a study on yet another "sub-genre" created by the Italian cinema in the years 60'- 70 ', the' Maccaroni Kombat ", or rather,..... the Italian war movie!

Brought to light thanks to "Inglorious Bastards" by the American master Quentin Tarantino, the lodging is a little-known chapter of the italian "B" movies. Because the cinema of war has never enjoyed enormous popularity in Italy or, because this kind of films, were made to scrape together some money, especially with foreign distribution in poor countries, with little conviction on the part of the producers. However, given that the undersigned, the genre has always loved, and on the net is very difficoult to find about it, I decided to do this simple task to make known the matter to the lovers, the curious and all film fanatics!


The "Maccaroni Kombat" (in according with Mr. Tarantino ..) is the current Italian war which, inspired by Hollywood films of the period, trying to scrape together some money, using titles and plots from blockbuster made in the USA. All seasoned actors "italian yankees", some "stars" of waste from the motherland and budget rather poor.

As for the “spaghetti western” or the “police”, it rides the wave of success made in the USA. So here is that, instead of "The Dirty Dozen", "The Guns of Navarone" or "Battle of the Bulge", sprouting from establishments De Paolis (In Rome) or Egyptian desert, titles such as: "And the

guns still thunder", "The Battle of El Alamein "," Commandos ","Eagles over London”, and so.. 

The end result, with minor exceptions, it will be mostly 'modest. Let's go, however, the theme, and let's put bare ...................... ready to fire!!!!!!!


After this introduction, the first scan and X-ray every details of these films (casts, locations, soundtracks, etc..), We try to understand where the birth of the genre and successes (or failures) had.

As mentioned earlier, everything is born from the "vice" typically Italian of the time, to make some dough with the imitation of the American blockbuster, in this case the gender war and adventurous. Movies like "The Guns of Navarone," "The Great Escape", "Where Eagles Dare", "The Bridge on the River Kwai", etc.. had been able to combine the traditional rules of war movies, the dose of adventure, romance and violence that raged so much in those years. This of course, has been very fruitful, like the colossal budget, great actors, directors and senior technicians. In Italy, as for the others genres (western, detective, peplum, sci-fi, etc..), We wanted to ride this wave, but there was a small difference ...... the money were few, mediocre actors, and directors (together with technicians) , artisans, handyman ....

What is then able to get out of these ingredients you'll find out in later chapters. I can only anticipate that Mr. Brescia, Castellari, Lenzi, Loy, Siciliano, Ferroni, etc.. have tried to do the best, with the arrangement, but in spite of themselves, the success has been limited. Something valuable is out. The undersigned have liked some of the titles that the reader will find in the chapter on film recommended.

"The Battle of El Alamein" by Giorgio Ferroni uses a discrete Frederik Stafford (not new to Italian cinema) to tell the heroic resistance of italian paratroopers of the Folgore sandy hell of El Alamein. In this film we find several scenes of battle tanks, a little 'healthy national epic and discrete locations in the desert. Relevant historical reconstructions and some war surplus original. Next, I would like to quote "The Battle of the Desert" by Mino Loy, who, using the usual plot of the patrol dispersed in the desert (recovery then in many other titles in the genre), as well as scenes of

war, goes into the analysis of human relations between winners and losers. But in the end, as in 

every war that respect, a win is only death. Beautiful scenes of action to desert environments. Beautiful also the movie poster.

Another title that I enjoyed is "Commandos", in which a great Lee Van Cleeft, go to "bastardize" the kind of war with moments of real tension” spaghetti westerns” Sergio’s Leone memory. How can we forget it, the shooting of the exchange of glances between the spies and the spied upon, between those who deceives and is deceived. Close-ups that only the master Leo could do. I would also like to stress that this film is written by Menhaen Golan, who then, in the 80s, founded the film company American "Golan-Globus", throwing the likes of Stallone, Norris, Schwarzenegger and Van Damme....!!!

Even "Zero probability" I have some ammunition. In it, a glacial Henry Silva is struggling with a story similar to "The Guns of the Navarone." The difference is that the plot, in this case, is set (!) And in Norway, our commando of suicides, must blow up a heavily fortified German base located in the heart of a Norwegian fjord (who said "663 Squadron? ). Apart from the locations that are typically Mediterranean (Spanish or italic) and some other obvious historical fact, the plot, the photography, the music is well done. The film can be appreciated with a decent thread of suspense. In the notes, I note that the story is written by a young Dario Argento, and therefore, even in the beginning, this is sufficient to raise the level of the film ................................

A celebrated by Tarantino's "Inglorious Bastards", instead traces the trend "Dirty dozen", where the usual rogues yankees they combined all the colors of the German army, with the end to end then all the heroes.

If other securities dealt with themes of war with absolute seriousness, Castellari's film are a little 'humor made of double meanings, stereotypes and caricature characters. I think it was this particular hit Tarantino, more than the plot itself. Of this kind, carry on my list other similar securities ("Five to Hell", "The Seven Marsa Matrou", "The guns still thunder"). All titles that dwell in the ordinary administration, without infamy and without praise.

The other titles you will find: "Kill Rommel !", "From Hell Ardennes", "The Battle of Sinai" (the only one that is not set in World War II, but during the Arab Israeli war, etc.) not shine for particular "aptitudes". Say you are in the standard in the genre. The fan will give an overview anyway, just to end up in what I wrote and enjoy an hour and a half of bombs, car chases and sabotage.

People less "dated" such films may seem rather ridiculous. Compared to today's productions there is no blood splattering all over, there are no bad words, lack of sex scenes, and generally good win and the bad guys lose. No rhetoric, no psychological delusions or other philosophical interpretations.

For those not so "is dated" like myself, these films, be viewed considering the historical context in which they were shot. Those were years of Italian economic “boom” (after the WWII), where women were emancipated, years of struggling youth at scholl or universities, in which the U.S. was

of the coin, is to see the German, as the holiday all “beer” with its caravan spent his summer holidays on 'Adriatic see! Summing up, it is sad to say that, while appreciating the efforts of producers, actors and directors at the end are more 'failures than successes. As I never tire of saying, war movies, sci-fi and historical, they need enough budget proportionate to manage, weapons, uniforms, vehicles, locations. Pena squalid results, comedians or insipid.


The actors in these films are the usual suspects of the "B" movie of the Italian period. People who have "dabbled" for years in the “spaghetti westerns”, “horror”, in “yellow”and “spy”. Most, Italians under "false pretenses" anglophone, some Teutonic transplanted at Rome, waste or "retiring" from overseas. To name a few, here: Henry Sylva, George Hilton, Guy Madison, Frederick Stafford, Klaus Kinski, Horst Bucholtz, Anton Driffing, Ettore Manni, Ivan Rassimov, Ray Lovelock, Van Johnson, etc.. People chameleon that, as required by the director, is able to identify with the rebel soldier, the evil Nazi officer in playboy spy in deserter or a coward guy. A beautiful camouflage, a little of fat in the face, a uniform of the SS, and you're done! Add to this, then some brown hair which may become a blonde, a monocle and a cigar, a machine gun, and is characterized by good character!

The German officer is always firm, resolute, uncompromising and honest (at times!), The American is always a no-good, light-hearted and womanizer, English has always been that haughty and unwilling to humor, the ' Italian is the usual feel-good anti-militarist, and so on ... A few dialogues, many orders, tight close-ups, phrases and circumstances of the attack by ............ you go! seen as the Martian from another planet and German was the classic precise and evil maybe, he burned the house of some relative during the retreat of the Italian campaign (WWII). The other side


For the directors, as for the actors, the same holds true. In the genus have ventured all the artisans of the "B" movie made in Italy, no exceptions! Just to name names, we find: Brescia, Castellari, Lenzi, Massaccesi, Garrone, Ferroni, Siciliano, etc.. Our "masters" of the genre, so to speak. All people that we can do with the action, the minimal budget and go without many problems of islands infested with zombies, shoot-outs to domestic banks, kidnappings, rapes, or barbarians or stellar battles in the cosmos. However, despite budget ridiculous, are able to offer action at will. There are also plenty of tanks battles, chases, shootings, assaults by partisans, bombings, etc.. It worth noting also the contamination of genres. Some duel in the dunes of the desert has the flavor of the “spaghetti western”, or some intrigue of spies in Normandy is prone to a 007, and so on.


With few exceptions, the plot revolves around the usual "D irty dozen", the suicide commandos made up of villains, deserters, renegades, sons of bitches and whores different! The objectives of this group of wretches are always the same: to blow up dams, fuel depots, stations superguns or top secret military installations. The enemy is stereotyped as never before. The German army full of impeccable officers of the Wehrmacht or the SS criminals. The Teutonic soldiers, then, do not shine for some intelligence, and die like flies, mowed down by machine gun or shots from the cannon of these nefarious Yankees. The good (American or English) always win, the bad guys (Germans) lose, the Italians ... as usual ......... tie! In detail, as mentioning Klaus Kinski in the role of the SS officer possessed. Cynical, insensitive, violent, short cut to a role for him. Or the usual handsome American officer or the ugly and unsympathetic officer of Her Majesty the Queen ... There is also room for a cameo appearance of our mistreated royal army. The Italian soldier is

represented as a peaceful man who rejects war and thinks only of his wife and save the skin. Not 

sure we shine for fighting ...... although in some episodes (see "The Battle of El Alamein", Ferroni), or go out, on balance, much better than the Germans. Positive note, all of these films are then explosions, ambushes, chases the assaults of commandos in large quantities.


A good war movie, it must have a decent budget for not urge ridiculous. The uniforms of soldiers, weapons, tanks, planes, should try to respect (or resemble) the most 'as possible to those of the time. In these films the uniforms sometimes are invented with pastel colors wrong. The ground transportation adaptations are almost always means the time (recently). For example Yugoslav tanks, Egyptian or Spanish, are miraculously transformed (with some tape and a little 'camouflage botched), in glorious "Tiger" German tank or "Sherman" American tank.. The famous jeep willys U.S. or the Soviet become necessary German, Italian, English, French, etc.. The most famous sore about airplanes. In all these films are used simulacra static wooden model radio controlled or wire-driven. In some cases, one sees unfortunately also the wires that support them! (See the launch of paratroopers in "Commandos"!). The dogfights are always represented with images from the archives of the documentary, or using cockpit plane reconstructed with tight shots to recreate battles between swarms of German fighters and English on the nordic see.

With regard to the trenches, prison camps or various military installations, all Italian ingenuity has fun in making dioramas on a small scale, or small pieces of wood in the prison camps (as in western movies), where, thanks to tightly framed or game camera, they can become the "Stalag 17" round or the general command of the Wehrmacht. Another sore point is represented by the partisans who, on paper, should be members of the French resistance, whereas in the reality of the film all appear as men from "Calabria and Sardinia" (!?) Or, even worse criminals Marseille! Sometimes, I must say, it borders on the grotesque .. . The few women who appear in the films, they seem straight out of the salon, with sophisticated hairstyles and makeup to go go! Someone should explain me how to do the trick does not run in

the face during the battle of Tobruk or the landing in Normandy!! Last consideration is sad for that (fortunately) rare episode of Italian war film, set in the jungle during the Philippine American War - Japanese guys .... we spread a veil, it is much better ...... I'm just saying that some "mediterran men "are used to make the Japanese soldier ..... I leave you to draw the consideration of the value of these films! So....bad!!!!!!!!!!


In essence, the environments that the filmmakers want perform in all these films are two: occupied France in 1944, and North Africa. In reality, however, the locations used are: Central Italy to rural background, some abandoned quarry, the studies of De Paolis in Rome, Almeira in Spanish and Egyptian desert. To tell the truth for these last two options, the scenery and photography are well integrated with the historical context of the film, while for the former, the village of the Italian Apennines, or the farm. It 'wonder sometimes if some designers have really seen in their lives even as it is a beach in Normandy, a French farmhouse or in the Ardennes forests of Belgium. There are also the "handyman" abandoned quarries outside Rome, where appropriate, become the Libyan desert, Cyrenaica or Tobruk! Very crazy!!!!!!!!!


The posters of these films are really well done (well for you to browse the network). In addition to the names of the actors, who are presented as Hollywood super star (?!) Are depicted greatest battles of tanks, bombers and flocks of thousands of troops ready to land to conquer Europe. Unfortunately, with this trick typical of these productions, the illusion the viewer. He is then faced with poor environments, the usual tanks and armored vehicles recycled in different titles and uniforms of soldiers more 'times take to Italian army forces. I'm not an expert in graphic design and painting, but congratulations again to the artists who made them.


A brief reference also on soundtracks. Fortunately, Italy is full of great composers and performers. The music of these films are generally well done, have a gait epic, sometimes melodies mingle with those of the spaghetti western or detective. Highlight moments of tension, attacks, fights and chases. Then there are the moments more 'introspective and romantic, with the classic “boombastic” before the final credits. I should mention in this regard some of the names of the period, that the fans more hardened, certainly recognize in other productions of gender. All: Stelvio Cipriani, Carlo Rustichelli, Riz Ortolani, Bruno Nicolai.

The procurement of these works, in my experience, is not easy, but if some enthusiast has the time and inclination to sniff on the net world, I think something can be found ......


The genre was short, but quite prolific. Those who are interested in a vision, I recommend the following titles. Find the most of what I wrote, and if you have a clinical eye like myself, you will notice there are many shortcomings:

1. The Battle of El Alamein, by Giorgo Ferroni 2. Battle Force, by Umberto Lenzi 3. Kill Rommel!,by Alfonso Brescia 4. Commandos, by Armando Crispino 5. Inglorious Bastards, by Enzo G. Castellari 6. The battle of the Sinai, by Maurizio Lucidi 7. The seven Marsa Matru, Mario Siciliano 8. Eagles over London by Enzo G. Castellari 9. From Victory to hell,by Umberto Lenzi 10. The battle of the desert, by Mino Loy. 11. Zero probability, by Maurizio Lucidi 12. Churchill’s leopard, by Marcello Predaux 13. Five for hell, by Gianfranco Parolini 14. The Ardennes hell of by A. De Martino 15. And the cannons thundered again, by Sergio Colasanti 16. The Devils of war, by Adalberto Albertini 17. That damned patrol, by Roberto Montero 18. Desert assault, by Umberto Lenzi 19. Heroes in Hell, Aristide Massaccesi 20. The battle of the last panzer, of Jose Merin


Thanks to the advent of'e-commerce network, the films I mentioned are not hard to find. As mentioned in the introduction is certainly more 'easy to find editions in German, English, French,

Spanish and Italian editions of the best prices. Do not expect great extras on the DVD. At most there are a few photo gallery and biographies of actors and directors. Although the overall quality of images is poor, but you could not expect more. If you have a good nose ... you’ll find them without problems, maybe typing the title abroad ...... good vision then!!


The speeches made for all kinds of "B" movie Italian the years 60'-70 ', also apply to this sub- genre. The idea of emulating the American giants, landslide tumbling under the blows of the shoestring budget and the lack of actors, technicians and equipment. Unfortunately, the war film, is a bit similar to that of science fiction. It requires big budget to create weapons, locations, vehicles and uniforms. Without that, you run the risk of falling into the mediocre and ridiculous. Do not just name a few of the tip (and also at the end of career!) To match it. However dutiful to congratulate our Italian directors, artisans of a cinema that was (unfortunately ...), which in poor conditions, have made (or tried to make) film decent, honest, trying to give what the audience wanted. In some cases, they have succeeded, in most ................. ..unfortunately not

Written by Stefano Rossi - 11/24/12

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