Jolly Cinema > 16:30
Original version with subtitles
“I had worked in the cinema for several years without really believing in it and remaining dissatisfied. My first film, Due milioni per un sorriso, was not entirely mine since I had to share the directorial chair with somebody else. With Dora Nelson I finally experienced the pleasure of regaining a different kind of authority, that of making a real film and constructing its narrative architecture. In the end I felt free to enjoy myself as I thought I ought to. That’s why everything went so smoothly”. Soldati’s debut as solo director is a loose remake of a French comedy of the same name (by René Guissart, 1935) and one of the high points of Italian comedy of the Thirties. Soldati reveals himself as a formidable pupil of Mario Camerini, for whom he had written some of his most significant films of previous years.
This, together with the co-directorial credit for Due milioni per un sorriso, constitute Soldati’s modernist phase, which still retains traces of an urban and American imprint, with images of trains, cars and shop windows. But Soldati’s modernity is vacuum-sealed, as it were, turned into a fable and subjected to an ironic self-criticism through the use of symbols. The cinema of Soldati’s early years is not so much metropolitan as it is centred on Cinecittà. Dora Nelson is a refined play on cinema itself, which reprises the ironic on-set observations contained in 24 ore in uno studio cinematografico, the report that Soldati published under a pseudonym in 1935.
Assia Noris assumes dual roles as a capricious cinema starlet and as Pierina, a timid worker who is chosen as her stand-in, and Massimo Girotti and the comedian Carlo Campanini also appear in their first significant roles. This classic starting point of the double then becomes bound up with the theme of the faked death (reminiscent of Pirandello’s Mattia Pascal). It is also enriched by the many observations on the work of film technicians and labourers and, watching this, it becomes clear just what must have fascinated Soldati in that ‘off-screen’ space to which he then dedicated the bulk of his narrative works.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: dal film omonimo di René Guissart, basato sulla commedia di Louis Verneuil. Scen.: Mario Soldati, Luigi Zampa. F.: Anchise Brizzi. M.: Giovanna Del Bosco. Scgf.: Pino Viola. Mus.: Felice Montagnini. Int.: Assia Noris (Dora Nelson/Pierina Costa), Carlo Ninchi (ing. Giovanni Ferrari), Miretta Mauri (Renata Ferrari), Luigi Cimara (Alberto), Carlo Campanini (Emilio), Nino Crisman (‘principe’), Massimo Girotti (Enrico Cabardo), Evelina Paoli (sorella di Giovanni), Fernando Bruno (Gigetto), Laura Moschini (Gina). Prod.: Urbe Film-I.C.I.. 35mm. D.: 79’. Bn.
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