Italian Cinema under Fascism

Goffredo Alessandrini – Noi vivi aka We the Living (1942)

The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear – the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the grublike fat of the appeasers and oppressors. In a bitter struggle of the individual against the collective, three people stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their bearing: Kira, who wants to be a builder, and the two men who love her – Leo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, a Communist. In their tensely dramatic story, Ayn Rand shows what the theories of Communism mean in practice. We the Living is not a story of politics but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. Read More »

Vittorio De Sica – La porta del cielo (1945)

SYNOPSIS
During War World II, Vittorio De Sica was approached by Goebbels to help relaunch the Italian film industry under the auspices of Musolini’s puppet regime. In order to escape collaboration with the Nazis, De Sica quickly invented the project “La porta del cielo” a film about religious miracles funded by the Vatican. Appalled by their plight during the German occupation of Rome, De Sica cast many Jews in the film to spare them from Nazi persecution, extending the shoot until the American allies arrived in the capital. Read More »

Roberto Rossellini – Il tacchino prepotente (1939)

This is an anti-Fascist short Rossellini made in 1940.
Quote:
La vispa Teresa was rejected and, although Ferrara said that Il tacchino was distributed by Scalera under its working title, “La perfida Albione,” there were no press notices, and no one outside of Scalera is known to have seen it. According to Ferrara, Rossellini told him it was a satire in which “Perfidious Albion,” a big turkey representing England, goes around pecking at the hens representing the nations of Europe, until defied by a rooster representing Italy. “Rossellini detested it,” said Ferrara, “[though his] genius was such that he could achieve extraordinary effects out of nothing. He used to tell me, ‘It’s the only time that, through my weakness, I made a work of propaganda.’” Read More »

Alessandro Blasetti – Palio (1932)

IMDb:
An anticipation of Blasetti’s style. A great movie about the Siena Palio. Guido Celano (Zarre) is a very good actress and Leda Gloria too. The Tuscany environment is very well depicted. The performing style is influenced by the period, but it is quite good anyway. It is a very uncommon movie and the best representation of Palio, a religious and sporting event in Siena. Blasetti, then, after Il Palio and Terre Sole, start a wonderful career as director and will anticipates the “neorealism” with his 1942’s movie “Quattro passi fra le nuvole”. Very impressive the opening scene with Zarre riding a horse in the Siena countryside. Read More »

Alessandro Blasetti – Aldebaran (1936)

Quote:
Aldebaran is in some places erroneously reported as a “lost” film, but here it is! After
a couple of projects had either been postponed or fallen through for Blasetti, it was
suggested that he should make a film about the navy in peacetime. The result is this
strange film, which at the outset plays like a propaganda piece for the might of the Italian
navy, only to veer off into high melodrama, as it zeroes in on Commander Corrado Valeri
(Gino Cervi), and his conflict between duty and the jealousy of his wife. There are comedic
asides, a visit to a North African club, affording Blasetti to contribute the first scenes of
nudity in Italian film, and there are moments of heroics, including a mission to rescue the
doomed crew of a wrecked submarine. As if all of that was not more than enough, the film
features a star studded cast including Evi Maltagliati, Gianfranco Giachetti, Doris Duranti,
Elisa Cegani (in her debut), and even a brief cameo by Blasetti himself. Read More »

Mario Soldati – Piccolo mondo antico aka Old-Fashioned World (1941)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Plot:
Franco, a young man of noble descent, decides to marry Luisa, daughter of a humble clerk, against his grandmother’s will. But a terrible tragedy upsets the life of the newly married couple: their little daughter Ombretta drowns in Lake Como and Luisa goes to the brink of madness… Read More »

Amleto Palermi – Cavalleria rusticana (1939)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

PLOT & Review:
(Contains some spoilers)

Quote:
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. Read More »