Il Signor Max

Mario Camerini

Sog.: Amleto Palermi. Scen.: Mario Camerini, Mario Soldati. F.: Anchise Brizzi. M.: Mario Camerini. Scgf.: Gastone Medin. Mus.: Renzo Rossellini. Su.: Vittorio Trentino. Int.: Vittorio De Sica (Gianni il giornalaio/Max Varaldo), Assia Noris (Lauretta), Rubi Dalma (donna Paola), Caterina Collo (zia Lucia), Umberto Melnati (Riccardo), Mario Casaleggio (zio Pietro), Virgilio Riento (Peppe, il giornalaio), Romolo Costa (comandante Baldi), Desiderio Nobile (il maggiore). Prod.: C.O. Barbieri per Astra Film 35mm. D.: 86′. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

per concessione di Ripley’s Film

According to the substantial and lively publicity campaign leading up to the release of the film and preparing its success, and from what one gathers in the comments by critics of the time, Il signor Max was seen more as a Mario Camerini film than as a Vittorio De Sica vehicle: anyway the fourth in a long and happy association that began in 1932 on Gli uomini, che mascalzoni, where the director is a guarantee of prestige and the young actor is “extremely charming”, but sometimes taking a back seat in the critical reviews to his co-star Assia Noris. On the other hand, Camerini recalled in his interview with Sergio Grmek Germani that although the original screen story written by Amleto Palermi was centered on a double-sided female character, divided between the two worlds – honest working class and wasteful  aristocracy – the  screenwriters, Camerini himself and Soldati, found it more interesting to use the actor who had already in Gli uomini… proven his ability to handle the challenge of switching class identities, an actor who had “an entire generation memorizing his features, his gestures and his songs,” (Lorenzo Pellizzari), and already was as well known in his mechanics uniform as in coat-tails from the theatre revue Za-bum.
(So as not to let a good idea go to waste, and since reutilization is a cornerstone of any genre, Soldati would use the doubleroled female character in Dora Nelson and Camerini in Una romantica avventura). Be that as it may, our “news vendor and gentleman” (Alberto Farassino),  glides through one of the most enduring and wonderful of all Italian romantic comedies (with its touch of screwball), without missing a beat or striking a sour note. Generally attempting to compare Italian efforts in this genre to American productions is not a worthy endeavor; but one might dare in the case of Signor Max, whose production values and directorial brilliance transform it well beyond the norm. The cruiser scenes are lush with art deco glamour, but what’s really stunning is the splendid fake-realism in Gianni/Max’s newsstand that, built in Cinecittà, is true heart of the film, “Clark Kent’s telephone booth” (again Farassino), an incubator of the dream of social comeuppance. American comedies differ in their showing an actual possibility of upward mobility, and heiresses could marry, if not news vendors, at least low rent journalists; Gianni’s happy ending calls for a return to normalcy: marriage to the secretary (granted she has a college degree, on the other hand he did go through high school), the claustrophobic uncle’s apartment, and the portrait of the Duce looking at you from the wall. Nonetheless he never completely gives up his secret identity as news vendor/gentleman, and as a result it’s a bit facile to trot out De Sica’s double personal life, his two families, his two Christmas dinners… but ultimately this is of
little interest. We prefer to consider that he saved his passionate, youthful love of disguise for his last role as a great actor, the imposter Bertone/General Della Rovere.

Paola Cristalli

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