Vittorio De Sica – Maddalena, zero in condotta AKA Maddalena, Zero for Conduct (1940)

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Imdb comment:

This is definitely one of the best comedy ever made anywhere…In a Technical school girl students learn to write commercial letters to a Mr Doe in Germany…one day one of these letters is posted by mistake..the problem is that this Mr Doe really exists…The exquisite vittorio de Sica was a great performer before reaching stardom in 1946 with “the bicycle theft”…The movie is always charming ,never vulgar nor stupid and you really get off the movie theatre happy with yourself and life in general..Mussolini censors used Cinema to divert people in those black days…its is not the only movie of its kind but it is the best by miles..After 1960 Italian Directors like Fellini or Scola reacted strongly against this type of comedies..Now they dont seem to know how to make them anymore. Continue reading

Alessandro Blasetti – 4 passi fra le nuvole AKA Four Steps in the Clouds (1942)

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Quote:
Originally released in 1942, Four Steps in the Clouds (Quattro Passi fra le Nuvole) was a major stepping stone in the starring career of Gino Cervi. The story begins as young unwed mother-to-be Maria (Adriana Benetti) desperately casts about for a means of avoiding disgrace. Making the acquaintance of good-natured Paolo Bianchi (Cervi), Maria persuades him to pose as her husband and meet her family.

Immediately ingratiating himself with Maria’s parents, Paolo plays his part so well that only a completely unforeseen disaster could spoil the charade. And when that disaster inevitably arrives, it is Paolo who comes to the rescue… Four Steps in the Clouds was superbly remade by Alfonso Arau in 1995 as A Walk in the Clouds, with Keanu Reeves in the Gino Cervi role Continue reading

Max Ophüls – La signora di tutti AKA Everybody’s Woman (1934)

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Plot & review:
From a novel by Salvator Gotta, scripted by the director with Curt Alexander and Hans Wilhelm.
Under anesthesia, after a suicide attempt, Gaby Doriot, movie star, relives her life and her unlucky loves, sprinkled with violent deaths. The end of the commemoration coincides with that of the surgery.
The first and only Italian film by M. Ophüls, in exile from Nazi Germany and called to Rome by Angelo Rizzoli.
Despite the exaggerated romanticism and the vehement acting “Italian style”, it is a cooled melodrama (with veins of Pirandello) that anticipates the themes of later Ophüls’ films, especially Lola Montès (1955).
M. Benassi heatedly over the top, and a memorable I. Miranda, poised between Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.
Awarded at the Venice Film Festival.
Morandini Continue reading

Amleto Palermi – Cavalleria rusticana (1939)

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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.

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

Mario Soldati – Tragica notte aka Tragic night (1942)

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Released from jail, Nanni (Checchi) punches prison guard Stefano (Ninchi) who has
denounced him. In order to take revenge, Stefano suggests the suspicion that, during his
absence, his wife has had business with the Count Paolo (Rimoldi). A few days later, at
night, a deadly ambush will be prepared. Continue reading

Vittorio De Sica – La porta del cielo (1945)

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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.
Continue reading

Alessandro Blasetti – Aldebaran (1936)

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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. Continue reading