Sog.: Fausto Maria Martini, Augusto Genina. Scen.: Augusto Genina. F.: Narciso Maffeis. Scgf.: Giulio Folchi. Int.: Fernanda Negri Pouget (Lucciola), Elena Makowska (la principessa Eliana di Cavasco), Enrico Roma (il barone di S. Gervasio), Francesco Cacace (Franco Salviati), Franz Sala (Cencio), Lina Giorgi (Nannina), Umberto Scalpellini (Florindo), Mario Sajo (Ilario). Prod.: Arturo Ambrosio per Ambrosio Film. 35mm. L.: 1500 m (incompleto, l. orig.: 1565 m). D.: 82’ a 16 f/s. Tinted and toned.
The opening shots of Lucciola show sailing ships in a harbour in the first hours of dawn. The images emanate a mysterious beauty, tinged with stillness. Their visual qualities, and the mastery that went into their making, are emblematic for the best Italian films of those years. A great success with critics and audiences, Lucciola confirmed Augusto Genina’s position as a leading Italian film director and author – he often wrote his film scripts himself, including in this instance. In 1917 he had over twenty titles to his credit, among them Il piccolo cerinario (1914), Gelosia (1915), Il sopravissuto (1916) and Signorina Ciclone (1916), all four screened at recent editions of Il Cinema Ritrovato.
There are scores of films and plays based on the story of a street waif thrown into upper class surroundings. Lucciola counts among the best of them; no happy ending cancels the futile cruelty of the practical joke the girl named Lucciola is subjected to; her three admirers (and providers of comic relief) are fickle opportunists; the lower class scum exploits her no less than the upper class snob. Lucciola, Firefly, experiences the warmth of human company only in weak intermittent sparks during a short summer and remains an outsider to human society until she dies.
With Lucciola and Maschiaccio (same year, 1917, and again directed by Genina), actress Fernanda Negri Pouget reached the highest point of her long career. She began in 1907, at the very beginnings of Italian film industry, and she had worked with everybody, with Caserini, Maggi, Rodolfi and Guazzoni. In Genina’s film, the actress, never a diva, was finally given the opportunity to make full use of her remarkable talent.