Arlecchino Cinema > 11:15


Claudio Gora
Introduced by

Emiliano Morreale


Wednesday 28/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

It is a strong temptation to retrospectively read La contessa azzurra not just as a nostalgic film about a particular era (that of the café chantant and silent cinema) but also as a self-portrait by the director. Amedeo Nazzari, a showman with big ambitions, an author and artist working in the context of popular show-business, an inventor of travelling shots, and a great seducer, is the director that Gora would have liked to be. Facing a production that was, to say the least, risky (a vehicle for Eliana Merolla, the romantic flame of occasional producer Achille Lauro, who viewed the whole undertaking as a present for her), Gora produced an amazing film, cleverly sidestepping the character’s inertia (masterfully obscuring her face in the final scene, making the train enter the tunnel…) and concentrating instead on a recreation of the period. As well as a precious record of the world of middle-class show-business at the turn of the century, La contessa azzurra also constitutes the culmination of those colourful, episodic films based on variety shows that were so successful during the previous decade, from Canzoni di mezzo secolo (1952) to Gran varietà (1954), both by Domenico Paolella. Immersed in a single flashback by Gábor Pogány’s soft-focus cinematography, it is the most beautiful homage to the Italian (or rather Neapolitan) cinema of the early years, our own Silence est d’or or French Cancan (as Filippo Sacchi wrote, championing it over Jean Renoir’s film). But the vagaries of fate mean that the opening and closing sequences of the film, in which a building site hollows out the historical centre of Naples, cannot fail to bring to mind Francesco Rosi’s Le mani sulla città (The Hands over the City), which three years later would recount the darker side of Lauro’s Naples.

Emiliano Morreale, Il cinema di Claudio Gora, Rubettino, Soveria Mannelli 2013


La contessa azzurra was a real adventure… Since the film was set during a period with which I was very familiar, I tried to give Gora an opportunity, an excuse, to make little bits of cinema, to shoot sequences in which it was clear that he was a director who knew how to do his job. And it is true, there are two or three wonderful sequences in the film. I didn’t have to work too hard to create the setting of the café-chantant as there was plenty of material available: the lyrics of folk songs and the many recollections of Maldacea and many others…

Suso Cecchi d’Amico, in L’avventurosa storia del cinema italiano. Da Ladri di biciclette a La grande guerra, Vol. 2, edited by Franca Faldini and Goffredo Fofi, Edizioni Cineteca di Bologna, Bologna 2011

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Alberto De Rossi. Scen.: Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Claudio Gora, Luigi Bazzoni. F.: Gábor Pogány. M.: Eraldo Da Roma. Scgf.: Aldo Tomassini. Mus.: Gino Negri. Int.: Amedeo Nazzari (Salvatore Acierno), Elly Davis [Eliana Merolla] (Teresa Curcio), Zsa Zsa Gabor (Loreley), Paolo Stoppa (Peppino Razzi), Irene Tunc (Jeanne d’Argent), Franca Marzi (donna Carmela), Mario Passante (don Ciccio), Pastor Serrado (Luigi), Angela Luce (donna Zenobia), Nicla Di Bruno (donna Serena). Prod.: Achille Lauro per Partenope Cinematografica. DCP. D.: 105’. Col.