Jolly Cinema > 17:15


Guido Brignone
Piano accompaniment by

Donald Sosin


Saturday 24/07/2021


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

A little girl forced to peek inside a window is shocked into silence. When she finally regains speech, she cries with horror: “So much blood!” She can have only seen one thing: Salomé. “The symbolic deity of indestructible lust, the goddess of immortal Hysteria, of accursed Beauty, distinguished from all others by the catalepsy which stiffens her flesh and hardens her muscles; the monstrous Beast, indifferent, irresponsible, insensible, baneful, like the Helen of antiquity, fatal to all who approach her, all who behold her, all whom she touches.” Thinking of Gustave Moreau, that is how Huysmans describes her, with questionable intensity. What distinguishes Salomé from other legendary diabolical females is her mastery of the veil. Mercedes Brignone, Salomé here by mistake (miscasting?), to her surprise sees herself in a painting with too much skin on display; she is hardly concealed by gauze as she moves around in places not fit for a noblewoman; she ceremoniously dons a funereal veil to face her sentence. In a reversal of the biblical figure’s reputation, she becomes the victim of a dark plot, awaiting the last veil’s removal: the one that will lay bare the truth. Like any self-respecting thriller, Il quadro di Osvaldo Mars marks its narrative with partial and reticent memories, is resplendent with luxurious contrasts, multiplies the number of intersecting trajectories with skilful editing, and slashes through certainties of surfaces and identity. It is a delightfully chaotic and intriguing film.

Andrea Meneghelli

Cast and Credits

F.: Anchise Brizzi. Int.: Mercedes Brignone (contessa Anna Maria di San Giusto), Domenico Serra (Osvaldo Mars), Giovanni Cimara (il conte), François-Paul Donadio (il cameriere), Armand Pouget (l’ispettore Rull). Prod.: Rodolfi Film. 35mm. L.: 1093 m. 18 f/s. Bn.


Film Notes

The last reel of Il tredicesimo commensale was found in the basement of a cinema that had been completely flooded – it had been kept in one of the few cans that remained above the water level. This wonderful fragment is the only part of the film to survive, but it enables us to imagine a work of extraordinary interest. It confirms the importance of Guido Brignone, who at the time was at the height of his long career, and of the Rodolfi Film Company, perhaps the only production company that in the period around 1920 attempted a real regeneration of the diva-film’s narrative and style. The plot, which we can deduce from contemporary newspaper reports, is quite close to a traditional English whodunit: the guests invited to the lunch at which the solution is to be revealed are all possible suspects. Using the mystery format to enliven a rather worn-out melodramatic formula seems to have been one of the trademarks of the Turin-based company, as can be gathered also from Il quadro di Osvaldo Mars. Flashbacks, subjective takes, alternate editing – all seem to be used in a tense and highly effective way, beyond the practice of contemplative lingering on a single frame that characterises much of Italian cinema up to 1920.

Paola Cristalli

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1913) di Fergus Hume. Scen.: Guido Brignone. F.: Luigi Fiorio. Int.: Lola Visconti-Brignone (Natacha), François-Paul Donadio, Domenico Serra, Ines Ferrari, Mary Cleo Tarlarini, Giuseppe Brignone, Giovanni Ciusa, Luigi Stinchi, Annibale Durelli. Prod.: Rodolfi Film. 35mm. L.: 365 m (frammento; l. orig.: 1318 m). 18 f/s. Col. (from a tinted nitrate print).