Archive for Alessandro Blasetti

Virtual Paradise

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2020 by dcairns

So this year, courtesy of the worldwide pandemic, we get to experience a small sampling of Il Cinema Ritrovato’s offerings from the comfort of our own filthy flat in the freezing drizzle of a Scottish summer. It’s very good value — for fifty euros Fiona and I can get enough content to fill our days, or almost, for a week. I don’t really like streaming things — you pay for something but you don’t get to own it — but it’s definitely preferable to international travel in the current world situation.

Day one — yesterday — we dipped in. Two not-quite documentaries. Jean-Pierre Berthomé & Emmanuel Charon’s BABYLON IN HOLLYWOOD is a work-in-progress short film about DW Griffith’s celebrated giant sets for INTOLERANCE — the filmmakers have calculated the measurements and the star of their film is a 3D computer reconstruction of the edifice, which the audience gets whizzed around and about and through. Based on little-seen stills, the filmmakers have also deduced that the set is not a closed, three-sided box as it usually appears — the walls don’t join, thus allowing the extras in more easily, and letting the light flood in. All this was fascinating.

The presentation is rocky, but then the thing isn’t finished.

I first saw Mara Blasetti, daughter of the great Alessandro Blasetti, and a pioneering female production manager, at Bologna on one of my first visits. Now her golden stash of production stills has been rediscovered, and she narrates RITRATTO DI MARA BLASETTI, which has fewer ambitions to be cinematic than the BABYLON joint, but succeeds extremely well as a rostrum-camera slide-show full of insights and history with behind-the-scenes appearances by Sophia, Marcello, et al. Fiona got excited about the thought of Vittorio De Sica playing a lunatic bus driver in TEMPI NOSTRI – ZIBALDONE N. 2 (1954, aka THE ANATOMY OF LOVE) so I popped the disc in and we enjoyed that as an off-shoot of our Bolognese adventure.

Oh, and two shorts — in THE NEW MAID IS TOO MUCH OF A FLIRT (1912), a household crumbles into chaos when none of the male staff can resist the beauteous new ladies’ maid, but the mistress sorts out the fumbling admirers with a bit of hosepipe slapstick (a reliable finish since Lumiere). In TONTOLINI E TRISTE, the downcast comedian tries everything he can to cheer himself up, but the theatre is too tragic and the circus show devolves into a riot, but a trip to the movie house to see himself caper about finally brings a smile to his face.



Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2018 by dcairns

I Cinema Ritrovato keeps reminding me to get into the Commedia All’Italiana school of social/sex comedy. MARRIAGE, ITALIAN STYLE (De Sica) and TEMPI NOSTRI (Blasetti) were my belated intros to the genre, which has no real definition but depends on a shared set of assumptions about what an Italian comedy is likely to entail. This year we saw DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE and LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN, which sealed the deal. So I’ve started seeking out more.

Here’s a bit from PECCATO CHE SIA UNA CANAGLIA (TOO BAD SHE’S BAD), directed by veteran Alessandro Blasetti.

De Sica, in overcoat and mustache, has a trick valise with no bottom, capable of swallowing up smaller baggage when lowered onto it. He’s hunting for a suitable target while his equally criminous daughter, Sophia Loren, who owes it all to spaghetti, distracts attention, which she was always good at.

Nice long take starting at 50 secs mark — amazing comedic choreography of actors and camera — and, my God, De Sica is a fine comedian. How can one guy have so many talents?

Director Alessandro Blasetti had a weird career, with a lot of epics early on, a first film destroyed by the Nazis (the opening alone survives) and later works popular under fascism. In the fifties he turned to comedy and never looked back. ALTRI TEMPI introduced the idea of the compendium film to Italy, where it thrived, or do I mean throve? Doesn’t sound right. It’s a form which originally meant multiple short films by the same director, and was corrupted into those multi-part, often multinational abominations where if you were lucky you got two decent episodes out of five.

PECCATO stars Marcello Mastroianni but did not screen in the Il Cinema Ritrovato season of his many works. He plays an honest cabbie who falls for congenial congenital thief Sophia Loren, whose entire family, presided over beneficently by De Sica, is crooked to the core. The vision of Italian society presented is of a conglomeration of rapacious swindlers and imbeciles — probably an accurate one, allowing for Blasetti’s cynicism. Marcello is honest and not dopey, but love blinds him, so he is in a continual state of outrage at Loren’s low-down activities. The movie finds equal amusement in her blithe reactions — doesn’t this poor man understand the way the world is?