Sog.: Dalla Omonima Canzone Di E. Scala (Versi) E F. Buongiovanni(Musica); Scen.: Elvira Notari; F.: Nicola Notari; Int. : Rosè Angione (Nanninella), Alberto Danza (Tore Spina), Eduardo Notari(Gennariello), Elisa Cava (Madre Ditore), Carluccio (Uno Studente Della Scuola Direcitazione Della Dora Film); Prod.: Fllms Dora “Serie Grandilavoripopolari”; Pri. Pro.: Italia, 24 Dicembre 1922 35mm. L. Or.: 1285 M. D.: 60′ A 20 F/S. Col.
Based on a popular Neapolitan song, ‘A santanotte is one of the few films directed by Elvira Notari at Dora Film that can be seen today. It is also an illustrative example of her work. This is a new color copy of the film made from two separate elements, a black and white duplicate kept at the Cineteca Nazionale and a nitrate print indicating the color processes used, found in the archives of George Eastman House. Rosé Angione, one of the actresses who studied at Elvira Notari’s acting school, plays the part of Nanninella,a young girl exploited and abused by her father, whom she maintains with her waitress salary. Forced to marry a man she does not love in a desperate attempt to save her beloved from being accused of murder, Nanninella is destined to a tragic end, and the film’s moving tone is brought to a violent climax: stabbed on her wedding day in her bridal gown in the finest tradition of Neapolitan melodramas.
This “popular drama of passion” (as the subtitle describes it) was one of Dora Film’s biggest hits. Elvira and Nicola Notari’s son also starred in this film as Gennariello. He would become a fixed feature of almost all their films, a kind of Notari melodrama stock character. The external shots are of great interest with their quasi documentary qualities, grounding the ill-fated story of Nanninella in the working class Naples of the time. What it is particularly striking about the film is its unusual perspective on the life of women belonging to the poorest classes and its criticism of the violence of a patriarchal culture.
The restoration was part of the project Non solo dive. Pioniere del cinema italiano, dedicated to the rediscovery of women’s contributions to the national cinema industry during the silent film era.