The producers: Ottavio Poggi

Ottavio Poggi may not be a name that you are familiar with.  There’s certainly very little biographical information about him anywhere.  But he was actually one of a band of little known – but very important – producers who fuelled the whole explosion in the Italian film industry in the 1950s and 60s.  These guys, and I’m thinking of others like Mario Siciliano, Fortunato Misiano, Emimmo Salvi and so on, were small scale producers.  They didn’t have the profile of a Franco Cristaldi or an Alberto Grimaldi, let alone a Carlo Ponti or a Dino De Laurentiis.  They concentrated almost solely on low to mid budget productions,financing films in whatever genres happened to be popular at the time.  And it’s thanks to them – as much as if not more so than their more celebrated directors and stars – that genres such as the peplum, spaghetti western and polizioteschi thrived to quite the extent that they did.

Poggi is an elusive character.  I have been unable even to track down a date of birth.  But he was active in the film industry from the war years, initially as a writer, and then working his way up the production ladder.  By 1952 he was a producer in his own right, putting together a number of melodramas and comedies for directors like Fernando Cerchio and Sergio Grieco.  Towards the middle of the decade he discovered his cinematic vocation, moving into the cape and sword field with the likes of Il falco d’oro (The Golden Falcon) and Giovanni dalle bande nere (The Violent Patriot), a genre he’d revisit roughly twenty times over the next ten years.  Some of his films had ambition: Annibale (Hannibal) was the subject of considerable press attention, and he was able to contract Vincent Price to appear in Nefertiti, regina del Nilo and Gordon, il pirata nero.

In the late 50s, he also founded Liber Film, who also produced a handful of films that he either wasn’t directly involved with (such as Totò e Cleopatra) or only had a hand in the script, with the hands-on production responsibilities being left to the likes of Nino Battiferri.  Sometimes Liber was involved in international comproductions – such as Bernard Borderie’s Angélique – but on the whole they were primarily Italian films, made by Italian directors and, apart from the occassional American star, featuring Italian actors.  It’s notable that he often worked with the same people over and over: Grieco, Cerchio and Luigi Capuano – all efficient if unglamorous directors – all made numerous films for him, and actors like Gianna Maria Canale, Guy Madison, Mario Petri, Alberto Farnese and Andrea Aureli appeared repeatedly.

What happened to Poggi, I don’t know.  It’s certainly true to say that when the boom in historical adventures died out in the mid sixties, he seemed to disappear.  Neither Poggi or Liber became involved in Spaghett Westerns, the next big boom genre, and apart from contributing to the scripts of a couple of small scale spy films he wasn’t heard from again.  I also don’t know whether he was anything to do with stunt director Fernando Poggi (who appeared in several of his films) or any of the other numerous Poggi’s who have made their living in Cinecitta over the years.

1942
Quarta pagina
Aka 3/4 of a Page
Dir: Nicola Manzari
Cervinia Film, Industrie Nazionali Associate Cinematografiche (I.N.A.C.)
(writer)
Cast: Claudio Gora, Valentina Cortese, Paola Barbara

1952
I morti non pagano tasse
Dir: Serio Grieco
Domino Films
(writer, production manager)
Cast: Tino Scotti, Titina De Filippo, Carlo Campanini

Non è vero… ma ci credo
Dir: Sergio Grieco
Associati Produttori Indipendenti Film (API), Gladio Film
(producer)
Cast: Peppino De Filippo, Carlo Croccolo, Titina De Filippo

1953
Amarti è il mio peccato
Dir: Sergio Grieco
Gladio Film, Po Film
(writer)
Cast: Jacques Sernas, Luisa Rossi

Lulù
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Gladio Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Valentina Cortese, Jacques Sernas, Luigi Pavese

1954
Tua per la vita
Dir: Sergio Grieco
Po Film
(producer)
Cast: Gaby Andre, Ettore Manni, Gerard Landry

Addio, mia bella signora!
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Gladio Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Gino Cervi, Armando Francioli, Silvio Bagolini

1955
Figaro, il barbiere di Siviglia
Aka The Barber of Seville
Dir: Camillo Mastrocinque
(producer)
Cast: Tito Gobbi, Armando Francioli, Irene Genna

Il falco d’oro
Aka The Golden Falcon
Dir: Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Po Film
(producer)
Cast: Anna Maria Ferrero, Massimo Serato, Nadia Gray, Frank Latimore

1956
Giovanni dalle bande nere
Aka The Violent Patriot
Dir: Sergio Grieco
Po Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Vittorio Gassman, Constance Smith, Anna Maria Ferrero, Gerard Landry, Philippe Hersent

Lo spadaccino misterioso
Aka The Mysterious Swordsman
Dir: Sergio Grieco
Po Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Frank Latimore, Fiorella Mari, Gerard Landry, Tamara Lees

1958
La Gerusalemme liberata
Aka The Mighty Crusaders
Dir: Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Max Production
(producer)
Cast: Francisco Rabal, Sylva Koscina, Gianna Maria Canale, Philippe Hersent

La spada e la croce
Aka The Sword and the Cross
Dir: Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Yvonne De Carlo, Jorge Mistral, Massimo Serato, Andrea Aureli, Rosanna Podesta

1959
Annibale
Aka Hannibal
Dir: Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, Edgar G. Ulmer
Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Victor Mature, GAbriele Ferzetti, Rita Gam

1961
La Venere dei pirati
Aka The Queen of the Pirates
Dir: Mario Costa
Max Film
(producer)
Cast: Gianna Maria Canale, Massimo Serato, Scilla Gabel, Andrea Aureli

Nefertiti, regina del Nilo
Aka Queen of the Nile
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Max Production
(producer, writer)
Cast: Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Edmund Purdom, Liana Orfei

Gordon, il pirata nero
Aka Rage of the Buccaneers
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Max Production
(producer, writer)
Cast: Riccardo Montalban, Vincent Price, Giulia Rubini, Liana Orfei

1962
Il colpo segreto di d’Artagnan
Aka The Secret Mark of D’Artagnan
Dir: Siro Marcellini
Les Films Agiman, Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: George Nader, Georges Marchal, Magali Noel, Massimo Serato

La tigre dei sette mari
aka Tiger of the Seven Seas
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Euro International Film, Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Gianna Maria Canale, Anthony Steel, Maria Grazia Spina, Andrea Aureli

Totò contro Maciste
Aka Toto vs. Maciste
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Liber Film, Wanguard Film (Nino Battiferri credited as producer)
(writer)
Cast: Toto, Luigi Pavese, Samson Burke

1963
Il boia di Venezia
Aka Blood of the Executioner
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Lex Barker, Guy Madison, Alessandra Panaro, Mario Petri, Alberto Farnese

Il leone di San Marco
Aka The Lion of St. Mark
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Liber Film
(producer)
Cast: Gordon Scott, Gianna Maria Canale, Alberto Farnese, Rik Battaglia

Totò e Cleopatra
Aka Toto and Cleopatra
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Liber Film, Euro International Film (EIA) (Nino Battiferri credited as producer)
Cast: Toto, Magali Noel, Moira Orfei

1964
Angélique
Aka Angélique, marquise des anges
Dir: Bernard Borderie
Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique (CICC), Fono Roma, Franco London Films, Francos Films, Gloria-Film GmbH, Liber Film, Pro Artis Ibérica
(producer)
Cast: Michele Mercier, Giuliano Gemma, Robert Hossein

I misteri della jungla nera
Aka Kidnapped to Mystery Island
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Liber Film, Eichberg-Film (Nino Battiferri credited as producer)
(writer)
Cast: Guy Madison, Ingeborg Schoner, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Giulia Rubini, Peter Van Eyck

Sandokan alla riscossa
Aka Sandokan Fights Back
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Liber Film, Eichberg-Film
(producer)
Cast: Ray Danton, Guy Madison, Franca Bettoia, Mario Petri, Alberto Farnese

Sandokan contro il leopardo di Sarawak
Aka Sandokan Against the Leopard of Sarawak
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Liber Film, Eichberg-Film
(producer)
Cast: Ray Danton, Guy Madison, Franca Bettoia, Mario Petri, Alberto Farnese

Totò contro il pirata nero
Aka Toto vs. the Black Pirate
Dir: Fernando Cerchio
Liber Film
(producer)
Cast: Toto, Maria Grazia Spina, Mario Petri

1965
Angélique et le roy
Aka Angelique and the King
Dir: Bernard Borderie
Films Borderie (as C.I.C.C.), Fono Roma, Francos Films, Gloria-Film GmbH, Liber Film
Cast: Michele Mercier, Robert Hossein, Jean Rochefort

Il ladro della gioconda
Aka The Mona Lisa Has Been Stolen
Dir: Michel Deville
Les Films Marceau, Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: George Chakiris, Margaret Lee, Marina Vlady

L’avventuriero della tortuga
Aka Cold Steel for Tortuga
Dir: Luigi Capuano
Liber Film, Eichberg-Film
(writer)
Cast: Guy Madison, Ingeborg Schoner, Rik Battaglia, Andrea Aureli

Song of the World
Aka Le chant du monde
Dir: Marcel Camus
Cosmos Film, Les Films Marceau, Liber Film, Orphée Productions
Cast: Hardy Kruger, Charles Vanel, Marilu Tolo

1966
Perry Grant, agente di ferro
Aka The Big Blackout
Dir: Luigi Capuano
??
(writer)
Cast: Peter Holden, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Marilu Tolo, Seyna Seyn

Superargo contro Diabolikus
Aka Superargo vs Diabolicus
Dir: Nick Nostro
Liber Film, Società Europea Cinematografica (SEC) (as S.E.C. Film), Producciones Cinematográficas Balcazar
(producer)
Cast: Giovanni Cinafriglia, Gerard Tichy, Loredana Nusciak

Tre notti violente
Aka Web of Violence
Dir: Nick Nostro
Hesperia Films S.A., Liber Film
(producer, writer)
Cast: Brett Halsey, Margaret Lee, Julio Pena

1967
Colpo doppio del camaleonte d’oro
Dir: Giorgio Stegani
G.V. Cinematografica, SEC, Variety Film Production
(writer)
Cast: Mark Damon, Luisa BAratto, Magda Konopka

About Matt Blake 873 Articles
The WildEye is a blog dedicated to the wild world of Italian cinema (and, ok, sometimes I digress into discussing films from other countries as well). Peplums, comedies, dramas, spaghetti westerns... they're all covered here.

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