Amleto Palermi – Cavalleria rusticana (1939)


PLOT & Review:
(Contains some spoilers)

This film was not based on the famous one-act opera of Pietro Mascagni but rather on the original story by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga. It’s the story of Santuzza, her love Turiddu, and his passion for the married Lola that leads to his death in a duel when Lola’s husband Alfio exacts satisfaction. Santuzza’s curse leveled at unfaithful Turiddu, “A te la mala Pasqua!” (“Hope you have a bad Easter!”) is a memorable moment… as it was in Mascagni’s opera.

All Sicilian passion and emotion, the film is shot against authentic Sicilian backgrounds. There are wonderful colorful sequences of villagers riding in decorated traditionally decorated carts. Those scenes are so vivid you almost don’t notice the absence of color in this black and white film. Mount Etna looms in the background, suggestive of the smoking volcanic passions of some of the characters we see living near it.

Isa Pola is a sweet Santuzza, Leonardo Cortese is a convincingly reckless Turiddu, Carlo Ninchi is properly dour as the quasi-cuckolded husband, and legendary diva Doris Duranti captures our attention as the Carmen-esquire Lola. The music employed in this version consists of Sicilian folk songs and other traditional music…often accompanied by Jew’s harp. Amleto Palermi directed with a great deal of skill, a feeling for actors and a true sense of locale. In a 1939 poll, Italian moviegoers voted this their favorite film of the 1930s decade.
(Gerald A. DeLuca @IMDb) Continue reading