Giuliano Montaldo’s L’Industriale

Giuliano Montaldo's L'industriale

Giuliano Montaldo's L'industriale

Giuliano Montaldo is one of the few directors who made their name in the Italian new wave of the early sixties who’s working (and he’s 81 years old, which is pretty impressive).  Less well known than Pasolini or Bertolucci, his work is varied and often variable, but it’s always worthy of interest. He’s made a hadful of films I’ve really liked, including Machine Gun McCain and Grand Slam, although I have to confess I haven’t seen a great deal of his later work.

Anyway, he’s got a new film out now called L’industriale. It has opened in about 80 cinemas for an initial run of 7 weeks.  Good luck to it!

Here’s the blurb from CinEuropa

Following the loan shark banks of A Better Life and in anticipation of the film about the Lehman Brothers’ crash Too Big To Fail, the Rome Film Festival revisits the subject of economic crisis and the excessive power of lending institutions with L’industriale by veteran filmmaker Giuliano Montaldo (Sacco e Vanzetti), screened yesterday out-of-competition. Set in a grey and cold Turin, taken to the extreme by Arnaldo Cantinari’s livid photography, the film depicts Nicola (Pierfrancesco Favino), a forty-year-old entrepreneur strangled by debt and by the banks, who is however proud and tenacious, and decides to resolve his problems by any means, with the help of his unscrupulous lawyer. (Francesco Scianna).

It is against this background – the screenplay is written by the Genoa-born director together with Andrea Purgatori – that the main character’s private affair plays out, with his wife Laura (CarolinaCrescentini) becoming ever more distant. Nicola begins to suspect that she is having an affair and starts following her in secret, leading him to discover her friendship with a Romanian garage owner (Eduard Gabia), the only one capable of making her smile again. And when things seem to be back to normal (the company, the marriage, social standing), Nicola will already have brought out the worst in himself and consequences will soon follow.

The film is set in a city paralised by crisis, with very little traffic, deserted factories and a distant sound of protest in the background. “A story like many others about how the economic crisis can destroy an individual, which captures a historical moment”, says Montaldo, eighty-years-old, who strikes up with the song ‘Non ho l’età’ (I’m not of the right age) every time he is asked why the film is not in competition. “These are terrifying times. We just have to take a tour of the North to see how many empty warehouses there are”. L’industriale, produced by Angelo Barbagallo’s Bibi with Rai Cinema, will be distributed in Italian cinemas by 01 ”at the beginning of 2012, but I am convinced – adds the director – that it won’t lose its topicality, unfortunately”.

The cast includes Pierfrancesco Favino (from Angels and Demons and Romanzo criminale), Carolina Crescenti (from Loose Canons) and Francesco Scianna (Angels of Evil, Baaria)

Posted in New Italian Cinema | Tagged | Leave a comment

R.I.P. Mario Maranzana

Mario Maranzana

Mario Maranzana

Mario Maranzana, who was born in Trieste on the 14th July 1930, has died at the age of 81 in Rome.

Maranzana was an esteemed stage actor who began his theatre career opposite Vittorio Gassman in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and went on to work with some of the greatest Italian directors.

He was also a familiar performer on the small screen, appearing regularly in the hugely popular Italian Maigret TV series, French mini series D’Artagnan (69) and many others.

He also turned up in numerous films from the mid 1960s onwards.  He appeared in just about every genre going: spaghetti westerns (Dollar of Fire (66), The Two Sides of the Dollar (67), Long Live Your Death (68)), crime films (The Last Chance (68), Day of the Cobra (80)), comedies (Ciccio perdona… Io no (68), La pupa del gangster (75)), giallos (The Etruscan Kills Again (72)) and decameroticons (Forbidden Decameroin (72)).  He never had huge roles, but was another of the character actors who made Italian cinema of the time so enjoyable.

Posted in Latest News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stars of Cinecitta: Luisella Boni

Luisella Boni, aka Brigitte Corey

Luisella Boni, aka Brigitte Corey

Luisella Boni, who was also known as Brigitte Corey, Isabelle Corey (not to be mistaken for the French Isabelle Corey), Luisa Boni and – to her mum and dad – Luisa Angela Bozzo, was born in Como on the 24th July 1935.  An attractive brunette, she has been a busy actress in films, theatre and television from the early 1950s onwards.

She made her film debut in Mario Bonnard’s 1953 film Frine, cortigiana d’Oriente, and it was the firts of numerous historical adventure and peplum films she’d make throughout the 1950s and 60s.  She tended to play the love interest in smaller productions such as Gianni Vernuccio’s The Treasure of Bengal (opposite Sabu, 1953) and Mario Costa’s Cavalier in Devil’s Castle (59), but also put in supporting turns in bigger budgeted projects like Land of the Pharoahs (55, starring Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins).  She also made three films with Gianfranco Parolini in Yugoslavia: Samson (61), The Old Testament (62) and The Fury of Hercules (62).

Away from costume dramas, she was also the lead in popular melodramas (Le dicciotenni, 56), crime films (I mafiosi, 59) and spy films (Sfida nella citta dell’oro, 62).

Her film career dropped off in the 1960s and she began working regularly on television, often in collaboration with her husband Daniele D’Anza.  Her theatre work was more sporadic, but included a well respected Zerbinetta opposite Vittorio COngio in Moliere’s Le furberie di Scapino.

In recent years she has made occasional appearences on screen, most particularly in the 2003 comedy Caterina in the Big City (2003).

Posted in Performers & directors | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Escalation, directed by Roberto Faenza

Escalation, by Roberto Faenza

Escalation, by Roberto Faenza

Luca Lambertenghi (Lino Capolicchio)’s life of gentle meditation amid London’s flower children and gurus is rudely shattered when his wealthy industrialist father (Gabriele Ferzetti) cuts off his allowance and forces him to work for the family olive factory in Milan.  Here he shocks his colleagues with his eccentric clothes and his habit of projecting films about India on the darkened walls of his office, and is placed in an asylum.  Luca escapes to Geneva and works as a baby minder but, disguised as a Buddhist monk, a female kidnapper (Didi Perego) employed by his father has little difficulty in luring him back to Milan, where his father decides to seek the help of Carla Maria Marini (Claudine Auger), an attractive industrial psychologist.  Carla Maria soon has Luca madly in love with her and goes through a Buddhist marriage ceremony with him.  He cuts his hair and goes daily to the office in conventional clothes; but Carla Maria refuses to consummate the marriage until he has gained control of the business.  Realising that his daughter-in-law is using his son for her own selfish ends, Mr Lambertenghi reveals to Luca that her interest in him is essentially a professional one.  Luca coldly poisons Carla Maria with a mushroom stew, then paints her corpse with psychedelic designs before cremating it on the beach.  Later he identifies the disfigured corpse of an unknown woman as being that of his wife.  And after ruthlessly forcing his father to give him control of the business he has her coffin packed in ice and buried on a city rubbish dump to the accompaniment of Negro street museums.

Dealing as it does with the development of a peace loving egalitarian into an impassive murdered and ruthless businessman, it seems likely that Escalation was intended as L’enfance d’un chef Italian style.  But the comparison with Sartre proves as hollow as the more obvious one with Antonioni (for the scene changes not so much from London to Milan as from the swinging world of Blow Up to the sterile wasteland of The Red Desert.)  And although the artistic and philosophical pretensions of Roberto Faenza’s first feature film seem to demand serious analysis, the disparity between intention and achievement is great enough to warrant a rather curt dismissal.  Scenes like the final funeral procession display a real talent for visual composition, but Faenza seems constantly more concerned with lending a symbolic weight to his material than with what it actually signifies.  Lino Capolicchio’s interpretation of the generational hero as a blabbering moron further undermines the film’s claims to seriousness.  Perhaps Italian audiences are more attuned to this type of buffoon humour, but the idiom makes it hard for Anglo-Saxons to determine whether he’s supposed to be like Hamlet or just Harpo Marx.  (poor)

Reviewed in Monthly Film Bulletin, May 1969.

Posted in From the Archives | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fantastikal Diabolikal Supermen – NOW AVAILABLE!

I’m pleased to announce that the first WildEye book, Fantastikal Diabolikal Supermen, is available.  I’ve posted all of the details before, but just to recap… it’s 94 pages, including 8 full colour pages, on 130gsm coated paper and with a laminated colour cover.  And, although I say so myself, it looks pretty darned good!

As the blurb says:

During the early 1960s, Italy was gripped by a new craze: adult comic books, known as fumetti neri, which pushed out the boat in terms of sex and violence. Characters such as Diabolik, Kriminal and Sadik became household names, not least because of repeated concerns voiced about their dubious morality in the conservative press. And film producers, never slow to spot a trend, quickly leapt on the bandwagon.

Fantastikal, Diabolikal Supermen is the first ever English language book to cover the curious genre that resulted. As well as including detailed reviews of over 30 films, from better known titles like Diabolik to obscurities such as The Devil’s Man and Three Supermen of the West, it also examines them in the light of the wider Italian film industry at the time, detailing how the cine-fumetti related to other trends such as Eurospy films and Spaghetti Westerns.

Featuring relevant excerpts from interviews with the actors and directors concerned and lavishly illustrated with numerous lobby cards, photos and posters, this is an invaluable reference guide to an otherwise ignored and forgotten cinematic phenomenon.

You can buy it from The WildEye online store for £9.99 + postage and packaging (£3 for the UK, £4.10 in Europe and £6 everywhere else).  All payments are processed through Paypal, which is fully secure and you can use even if you’re not a registered Paypal user (all you need is a credit or debit card).  I’ll also be selling on EBay, Amazon and some other retailers at a price of £12.99 (but not just yet…)

Click here to buy it.

(and if you have any problems during the purchase process or want to make any other comments please do get in touch)

Fantastikal Diabolikal Supermen

Fantastikal Diabolikal Superme

Posted in Fantastikal Diabolikal Supermen, Latest News | Tagged | 6 Comments

Devilman Story (The Devil’s Man)

Devilman Story

Devilman Story

Shortly after the kidnapping of a famous surgeon Professor Becker, American journalist and science correspondent Mike Harway (Guy Madison) finds Becker’s associate Karl Bloch murdered in his Rome laboratory.  Attracted by Becker’s daughter, Christine (Luisa Baratto), and anxious to promote his own career, Mike decides to hunt for the missing professor and agrees to let Christine join him.  Their search takes them to an area of the North African desert where nomadic tribes live in terror of the mysterious Black Riders, whose equestrian sorties from the old fortress of El Faium result in the disappearance or savage mutilation of everyone who crosses their path.  Christine is captured by the black riders and Mike succeeds in following her into the fortress where he finds that Devilman, a hypnotic villain who conceals his hideously scarred face beneath a scarred mask, has built an all-powerful artificial brain which he hopes to have transplanted into his own head.  To this end he has kidnapped and brainwashed Becker, whom he now order to perform a trial operation on Christine.  Devilman’s sadistic assistant, Kuhn, realising that a successful operation will mean the end of his own usefulness, helps Mike escape from the fortress.  He returns with the nomad tribe of Tuareg warriors whose chieftain’s daughter was one of the Black Riders’ first victims. In the violent fighting that ensues, Devilman is destroyed when his machine overheats and blows up the entire fortress, from which Mike, Christine and Becker escape in the nick of time.

The routine formula of the power crazed scientist whose manic schemes are thwarted by an inevitable final holocaust is here lifted out of the rut by some splendid desert locations and a fine fortress whose traditional exterior, evoking all the vintage struggles of the foreign legion, conceals some austere chrome and glass SF sets.

[This is an absolutely loopy film which makes no sense whatsoever, but it’s also very entertaining, made by Paolo Bianchini when he was just starting out and establishing himself as one of the best Italian action directors of the 1960s.  Most reviews are negative, which makes the broadly positive views of the above piece refreshing.  For more information on this film check out the forthcoming Fantastikal Diabolikal Supermen book!]

Posted in From the Archives | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

R.I.P Vittorio De Seta

Vittorio De Seta

Vittorio De Seta

The director Vittorio De Seta, celebrated creator of award winning documentaries and films both in Italy and abroad such as Un giorno in Barbagia, Banditi ad Orgosolo, Lu tempu di lu pisci spata and Diario di un maestro, has died in Calabria at the age of 88.  The news was given by family members.  De Seta, who was born on October 15th 1923, completed his last film Lettere dal Sahara in 2006, which was presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival.

De Seta began his career in 1953, working as an assistant director on an episode of the film Amori di mezzo secolo for Mario Chiari.  He then became a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, shooting films from the 1950s onwards, mainly in Sicily and Sardinia.  Among these works, Isola di fuoco, set on the Aeolian Islands, was his best known work, winning awards at the 1955 Cannes Festival.

De Seta made his feature debut in 1961 with Banditi ad Orgosolo, which he wrote with his wife, Vera Gherarducci, a film that was made with a simple style and a sensitivity that was like a modern reinvention of neo-realism.  It won the Best Debut Feature at Venice and the Silver Ribbon for Best Cinematography.  He followed it up in 1966 with Un uomo a meta, which marked a distinct move away from the documentary approach which had characterised his early years.

Between 1969 and 1970, he moved to France to shoot L’invitati, a film which was coolly received despite winning he appreciation of Alberto Moravia and Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Then in 1972, he returned to the themes of his early years with a TV miniseries produced by RAI: Diario di un maestro, a documentary about a difficult teaching experience in a Roman town.  His deep connection with Calabria, where his mother was born, was explored in the documentary Calabria, in 1993, while his last film, Lettere dal Sahara, followed the life of an African migrant in Italy.

Note: I watched Banditi ad Orgosolo recently and it’s an excellent film, a perfect partner piece to Francesco Rosi’s Salvatore Giuliano.  De Seta wasn’t a very prolific filmmaker, though, which probably explains why he never made as much of an impact as similar neo-neo-realists such as Rosi or Pontecorvo.  But I really recommend checking it out if you can track down a copy.

Posted in Directors, Latest News | Tagged , | Leave a comment