Primula bianca, La

Year: 1946
Running time: 85 mins
Country: Italy
A Carlo Ponti production for Lux Film
Director: Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Story & screenplay: Anton Giulio Majano & Guglielmo Morandi
Cinematography: Carlo Montuori
Music: Mario Labroca
Art direction: Gianni Mazzocchi
Cast: Carlo Campanini (Felice Moretti), Carlo Ninchi (gang boss), Andrea Checchi (the policeman), Laura Gore (girlfriend of the gang boss), Giulio Battiferri, Manlio Busoni (police inspector), Angelo Calabrese, Giulio Calì (barrister), Max Lancia, Folco Lulli, Paolo Monelli (editor of newspaper), Mirella Monti (daughter of the gang boss), Nino Pavese, Pina Piovani

Synopses: After having a particularly bad day at the office, reported Felice Moretti mistakenly believes someone to have stolen his wallet. Chasing after the presumed thief with a revolver, he forces him to hand over what he presumes to be the purloined wallet; it’s actually just one that looks similar his own, which he’s left behind in his office. This wallet, however, contains a lot of money and no information at all about it’s owner, save for a mysterious envelope with an address written on it. Wanting to return it, he goes there, and promptly stumbles across a criminal gang planning a hold up, which he unwittingly becomes involved with.

Comment: Classifying Italian films as specifically belonging to the ‘crime’ genre is a tricky business, especially those made before the genre heyday of the 1970s. This is partly because a lot of them are rather obscure, with very little information available about them. Also, however, the genre boundaries are all rather blurred. In the immediate postwar period, many films from other ‘trends’ – most particularly the melodrama and neo-realist dramas – included aspects more commonly included in the crime genre. La primula banca is a case in point, a melodramatic sounding confection which nonetheless features a band of criminals and a holdup. Nonetheless. it’s worth including here to demonstrate the early origins of the Italian crime film.

Personel: Director Carlo Bragaglia was more commonly associated with making adventure films, which he churned out from the early 50s onwards. He’d been making films since the 1930s, including a number of melodramas and comedies, and was one of the few Italian directors able to maintain their career through the wartime period. He made his last film in 1963, but lived another thirty years, until his death – aged 104 – in 1998. Both of the scriptwriters – Anton Giulio Majano & Guglielmo Morandi – later became succesful TV directors, although their film careers were less fruitful (Majano is best known for Atom Age Vampire, Morandi’s only production for cinema was L’oro di Londra).

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