Sog.: Romolo Marcellini. Scen.: Romolo Marcellini, Franco Solinas, Jacques Remy, Nicola Ferrari, Gino De Sanctis. F.: Aldo Giordani. M.: Eraldo Da Roma. Mus.: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. Int.: Sylva Koscina (Lucia), Rick Battaglia (Carlo), Margit Nünke (Giovanna), Gustavo Rojo (Piero), Hans Albers (Lorenzo), Carlo Ninchi (Parisi), Geoffrey Duke, Libero Liberati, Bill Lomas, Enrico Lorenzetti, Pierre Monneret (campioni di motociclismo). Prod.: Sirio Film. DCP. D.: 87’. Col.
A few years before his most successful film La grande Olimpiade, the documentary about the 1960 games in Rome nominated for the 1961 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, Romolo Marcellini shot I fidanzati della morte. A fiction film. A story about love, rivalry and passion in the world of motorcycle racing. A fictional film set in reality with the most important motorcycle races like the legendary Milan-Taranto and the Italian motorcycling Grand Prix in Monza. I fidanzati della morte is a film that I had wanted to make for several years, and, finally, I did it. […] It was meant to pay tribute to motorcycling and motorsports, faithfully adhering to the reality of motorcycle racing, which is thrilling on its own”. So real as to involve some of the greatest racers of the 1950s: Geoffrey Duke, Libero Liberati, Bill Lomas, Enrico Lorenzetti and many others. The press called it “the first major film about motorcycling” with international distribution and cast (Sylva Koscina and Rik Battaglia acted alongside Hans Albers, in his last film appearance, Gustavo Rojo and Margit Nünke). After 1957, however, I fidanzati ‘disappeared’ for almost sixty years. It left its mark in memory, though, firing the imagination of generations of motorcycle enthusiasts. Today Rodaggio Film brings the movie back to the screen after restoring it with money raised from crowdfunding with thousands of supporters and hundreds of donors from twenty-two countries. What makes this film still unique today? 1957 was a turning point in motorcycle history: at the height of worldwide success and innovation, the big names of Italian motorcycle production – Guzzi, Gilera and Mondial – withdrew from international competitions. Moreover, after the Mille Miglia tragedy open road racing was forbidden: Marcellini filmed the last Milan-Taranto, a race that was as dangerous as it was symbolic, unifying north and south by hitting the gas.
Shot in colour with Totalscope, I fidanzati della morte captures an unrepeatable moment in Italian industrial history and a legendary swan song in motorcycle history. Shot two years later or before, it wouldn’t have had the same meaning.