Italian Cinema under Fascism

Guido Brignone – Maciste all’inferno AKA Maciste in Hell (1925)

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Scifilm wrote:
Maciste is tempted by the devil, and ends up trapped in hell when he elects to fight him.

Bartolomeo Pagano played Maciste in the 1914 movie CABIRIA; he must have liked the character; he ended up playing him repeatedly in a variety of movies over the next twenty years. I do wonder about the character’s position in time; CABIRIA took place in ancient Rome, but even if I’m not sure when this movie takes place, it’s certainly a much later period of time; Maciste wears a suit and tie through most of this, and at one point he is tempted with some shots of very modern cities indeed. Nonetheless, the fantasy element is very strong; the scenes in hell are great, with a huge cast of demons and fiends, including a couple of giant demons, a flying dragon, and some great special effects. It’s based at least partially on Dante’s “Inferno”, and it includes both Lucifer, Pluto and Proserpine as characters. I would love to have seen some of the other early Maciste movies just to see what the character’s story was, but this one and CABIRIA are the only ones I know exist for sure. It’s definitely worth a look for people interested in creative visions of hell; the movie apparently served as an inspiration both for Mario Bava and Federico Fellini. Read More »

Alessandro Blasetti – Terra madre (1931)

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PLOT SYNOPSIS
After many years in the city, the Duke Marco, accompanied by his lover Daisy and by a cohort of frivolous and condescending friends, pays a visit to the country estate in which he grew up, and that he now owns after his father’s death. The Duke slowly comes to acknowledge how deeply connected he feels towards the ancestral land and its humble people, but he is torn between his duties as a landowner and the whims of Daisy, who pushes him to sell the estate to an unscrupulous businessman. To complicate matters, the Duke gets increasingly fond of Emilia, the young and outspoken daughter of the head farmer. Read More »

Alessandro Blasetti – Nessuno torna indietro AKA Responsibility Comes Back (1945)

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Late fascist chickflick or early lib melo – hard to tell. Early production title was Vagine di ferro. Read More »

Mario Camerini – I Promessi Sposi aka The Spirit and the Flesh (1941)

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Alessandro Manzoni’s book I Promessi Sposi from 1823 seems to be one of the best kept secrets of the whole Italian literature. While by many considered to be the greatest novel ever written in the Italian language, it doesn’t seem to have a particularly strong reputation abroad. I first heard about it from an Italian friend during a long night of Totò films and beer some months ago, but when doing some googling after watching Camerini’s film during a train trip yesterday, I realized that I actually have a Norwegian translation myself, bought some years back when I spent most of my time going to book sales in Oslo and filling up my parents’ attic with everything I came across. Read More »

Mario Soldati – Malombra (1942)

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Like Piccolo mondo antico, Malombra is a film set in a grandiose, but a bit crowded aristocratic house, which is itself squashed between the beautiful, but deadly see, and the stolid, un-romantic mountains. A claustrophobic space with no escapes, a space of directionless hauntings and self-induced psychosis. Also, of course, a space of late, musty fascism. The reality of the second world war and the twilight of the Mussollini era is never directly alluded to, but it seems to penetrate all walls, clothes, the flesh itself. Read More »

Mario Camerini – Il signor Max AKA Mister Max (1937)

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Synopsis:
Vittorio De Sica, heir to a large sum of money and owner of a newspaper vending stall, makes enough money out of his business to take a vacation at a fashionable resort. He is given a cruise ticket by an aristocrat who is an old school friend, and is mistaken for the aristocrat when he uses a camera that has his friends name on it. Assia Noris plays a maid who falls in love with him because of who he is and not who others think he is.

Remade as Il Conte Max with Alberto Sordi in the De Sica role and the latter as the uncle. Read More »

Giuseppe Amato & Vittorio De Sica – Rose scarlatte AKA Scarlet roses (1940)

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SYNOPSIS
Respectable bourgeois wife (Renee Saint-Cyr) turns out a mysterious bunch of scarlet roses and yields to temptation of adultery. Vittorio de Sica’s director debut (with supervision by Giuseppe Amato); light but already a little bitter comedy based on skillful Aldo de Benedetti’s stage hit. Naturally, superstar De Sica playing the main role himself – and is on the top of his charm here.
Sadly, there is only Spanish theatrical release (from that time), with Spanish dubbing and titles. Read More »