Gian Luca Farinelli
Mario Camerini (always involved when we talk about Italian cinema) had the genial idea of creating two separate trios of assistant directors. In his Rossini-esque Figaro e la sua gran giornata (Figaro and His Great Day), it was Raffaello Matarazzo, Giuseppe Fatigati and Mario Soldati; whereas in Il documento (The Document), recently rediscovered by Cineteca del Friuli, Mario Monicelli, Giulio Morelli and Clemente Fracassi. The last component of each trio was always the clapper loader (this chain of production sees clapper loader Soldati introduce Fracassi as clapper loader on the second film). First Fatigati and then Fracassi became trusted men of the Italian cinema production machine, both specialising in opera films, with the latter also able to carve out important production roles for himself in Poggioli’s immense Sissignora and subsequently the most memorable Fellini films of the Rizzoli era.
However Fracassi, although evasive when discussing his directorial career, had without doubt the temperament of an auteur: of the four films he directed, although the first and last, which have the feel of costume melodramas (Romanticismo and Andrea Chénier), are themselves of some interest, it is his two middle films, Sensualità and Aida, that hold a unique spot in Italian cinema history, comparable only to certain films by Matarazzo (Giuseppe Verdi or Rice Girl; with the former shot in Ferraniacolor, one of the most fascinating colour systems in the history of cinema). Therefore, it must clearly be stated that on La dolce vita Fracassi was not an errand boy; rather he was the catalyst for its cosmopolitan spirit. In Sensualità (Barefoot Savage) not only does he recount the Istrian exodus – like Bonnard in La città dolente (City of Pain), on which Fellini collaborated -, he also gives it the overblown feel of a Spanish-Mexican melodrama. Aida successfully reinvigorates the Egyptian charm that gave birth to Verdi’s opera and invents a star (Loren), with songs dubbed by opera diva Tebaldi (while in the films of Gallone, the voices were often less auratic).
Sergio M. Grmek Germani
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dall’opera lirica omonima (1871) di Giuseppe Verdi. Scen.: Clemente Fracassi, Carlo Castelli, Anna Gobbi, Giorgio Salviucci. F.: Piero Portalupi. M.: Mario Bonotti. Scgf: Flavio Mogherini. Int.: Sophia Loren (Aida, con la voce di Renata Tebaldi), Lois Maxwell (Amneris, con la voce di Ebe Stignani), Luciano Della Marra (Radames, con la voce di Giuseppe Campora), Afro Poli (Amonasro, con la voce di Gino Bechi), Antonio Cassinelli (Ramfis, il Gran Sacerdote, con la voce di Giulio Neri), Enrico Formichi (il faraone), Marisa Valenti (ancella, con voce di Giovanna Russo). Prod.: Gregor Rabinovitch, Federico Teti per O.S.C.A.R. Film. DCP. D.: 99’. Col.
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