Sog.: da un racconto di Edoardo Scarfoglio. Scen.: Alessandro Blasetti, Suso Cecchi D’Amico. F.: Gábor Pogány, Carlo Montuori. M.: Mario Serandrei. Scgf.: Veniero Colasanti, Franco Lolli, Veniero Colasanti, Dario Cecchi. Mus.: Alessandro Cicognini. Su.: Agostino Moretti. Int.: Vittorio De Sica (il difensore d’ufficio), Gina Lollobrigiga (Maria Antonietta Desiderio), Giovanni Grasso (il presidente del tribunale), Arturo Bragaglia (il pubblico ministero), Vittorio Caprioli (il farmacista), Dante Maggio, Umberto Sacripante, Carlo Mazzarella (testimoni). Prod.: Società Italiana Cines. Pri. pro.: 28 settembre 1952 35mm. D.: 22′. Bn.
per concessione di Ripley’s Film
Altri tempi was Blasetti’s answer to the national crisis in film production that arose in the let-down following the great era of neo-realism. This let-down was in part a result of the choices made by politicians to put the brakes on producers and directors intent on any expressing any kind of social criticism in their films, and in part, the collective desire to move on from the past, still painful in the post-war period. The film offers a new formula, and the result is an audacious experiment, and shows Blasetti’s uncanny ability to be forward thinking. In a manuscript dated 1952, the director notes: “Stories, not episodes. This first ‘zibaldone’ called Altri tempi is not a film of episodes, but a film of short stories […], completely independent of one another”. They are based on novellas from the second half of the 19th century: Meno di un giorno by Boito, Il tamburino sardo by De Amicis, Questione d’interesse by Fucini, L’idillio by Nobili, La morsa by Pirandello and Il processo di Frine by Scarfoglio. Between 1950 and 1952, critical years in the pause of the De Sica-Zavattini association, after the unpleasant reception received first by Miracolo a Milano and then by Umberto D., Vittorio De Sica was compelled to give up his role as neo-realist director and return to acting, becoming the ultimate exemplar of the anthropological exploration of the Italian national character, who – as Anna Masecchia writes in the recent volume Vittorio De Sica, storia di un attore – would come to dominate Italian cinema for the decade to come. Blasetti forced his name onto the producers, but De Sica hedged, especially after he learned that he would no longer be the protagonist of the short parable titled De Consolatione philosophiae by Pisani Dossi, because it had been cut from the selected episodes, but would instead be asked to play the histrionic lawyer defending the sex bomb in Il processo di Frine. Ultimately De Sica played the part superbly, calling on his many skills to find the perfect modulation for the sensibilities of the Italian working class for whom he became the undisputed actor of the moment. From box office statistics chronicled in “Cinemundus”, February 18, 1953, it’s clear that the film was a smashing success. Giovanni Calendoli, wrote in “Il lavoro illustrato” September 7, 1952: “Blasetti’s cheerful vision has a tone that is fundamentally and intentionally grandiloquent, apart from the final episode, Processo a Frine, based on the story by Scarfoglio, in which reality takes a back seat to the overall logic of the film. […] The beautiful and instructive image of the 19th century offered in the other episodes of the film can’t hold a candle to this final episode, which is hands down the most luminous. The most persuasive, it is the sharpest with its spicy wit and humor, not only wonderful for the low cut outfits worn by Gina Lollobrigida, which get lower and lower as the film proceeds, and the thoroughly enjoyable performance by Vittorio De Sica, but especially for the freshness and vivaciousness of the storytelling”.