Sunday, September 08, 2013

Battle of Algiers Mambo

If you've seen The Battle of Algiers, you of course remember the famous scenes when the two young Algerian women, dressed up to look like évoluées, plant bombs in a milk bar and a bar. The scene is based on historical fact. On September 30, 1956, the FLN militant Zohra Drif planted a bomb at the Milk Bar, which, according to Raphaël Draï (Le pays d'avant, 2008, Paris, p. 228), was one of the most popular hang-outs for young Europeans, as well as young bourgeois Arab women. Samia Lakhdari planted her bomb at L'Otomatic, the most popular student bar of Algiers.

The song playing on the jukebox, according to Draï (at L'Otomatic, I think he means, but it's not clear) was a mambo that was all the rage, from the 1954 film starring Sophia Loren, La Donna Del Fiume (known as La Fille du fleuve in French, Woman of the River in English). Draï doesn't tell us what his source is for this fact.

Perhaps it was this one, from a scene in the film which features the sultry dancing of Loren. I have not been able to identify the title or the artists.

The video identifies the song as "Mambo Bacan," but clearly that's not what it is. This is "Mambo Bacan," sung by Sophia Loren, and also from the movie soundtrack.

I've blogged previously about the song playing in the milk bar in The Battle of Algiers, when the bomb goes off. If you read the comments for the post, you will find that the song is identified as "Rebecca," and that it's by The Chakachas. You can listen here. It's a cha-cha-cha.

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