Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 16:45


The three titles in this programme complete the variegated genres of the series ‘Serie d’Oro’ launched in 1909 with Spergiura! and Nerone. Arturo Ambrosio viewed Frusta as a kind of living encyclopedia, capable of writing or rewriting any story locked up in his Screenplay Office. For the adaptation of Schiller’s ballad Der Handschuh (Il guanto), Frusta recreated a romantic court atmosphere with a big finale, unfortunately lost, in which real lions keep viewers on the edge of their seats. In 1911 D’Annunzio – under an advantageous contract and without writing a line, save exequatur and a fleeting signature at the bottom of Frusta’s screenplays – let one of his works be filmed for the first time: Sogno di un tramonto d’autunno features Mary Cléo Tarlarini, Ambrosio’s first star, perfectly playing the part of a restrained and haughty Gradeniga trembling with jealousy. Frusta did not look down upon any project and, with directors like Maggi, Rodolfi and Caserini, he not only made the first foray into comedy, which would become a successful genre in Italian cinema, but also dedicated unusual care in writing slapstick. The manuscript of the screenplay for Gigetta è gelosa (a lost film made in 1914) contains a surprising monologue to be performed (!? …) in front of a mirror, written by Frusta for Gigetta Morano. The screenwriter had a certain care in writing female roles (and weakness for actresses), and it was the leading actress of Santarellina who would remember that Frusta was the Turin production company’s true genius. Claudia Gianetto
Piano accompaniment by

Daniele Furlati


Saturday 30/06/2018


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Turin like Paris. Villa Rey set in the hills of Turin as an elegant boarding school of the ‘Hirondelles’ for garrulous school girls. The pitiable music teacher, with wig and top hat, is also a brilliant vaudeville artist with a leading lady lover. The devout pupil and fiancée of an unknown officer (amazing what a screen can do!) is also a lively singer and later the lauded replacement of the capricious leading
lady in a joyful musical comedy. Did someone day boarding school! In Santarellina everything revolves around mistaken identities. The young girl’s energy, the light heartedness of theatre and the camaraderie of the barracks stand in stark contrast with the religious and military characters, which are nevertheless both sacred and untouchable. Had this early twentieth-century comedy been scripted by a contemporary, laid-back Frusta, we would have been seeing an abbess who was a well-fed Nun of Monza and the officer and his dapper comrades as lascivious apaches in shady nightclubs.

Cast and Credits

T. alt.: Mam’zelle Nitouche. Sog.: dall’operetta Mam’zelle Nitouche di Henri Meilhac e Albert Millaud. Scen.: Arrigo Frusta. F.: Giuseppe Angelo Scalenghe. Int.: Gigetta Morano (Denise / Mam’zelle Nitouche), Ercole Vaser (il maestro Celestino / Floridor), Mario Bonnard (tenente Fernand), Cesare Zocchi (maggiore Chateaugibus), Lina Gobbi Cavicchioli (madre superiora), Maria Brioschi (Corinne), Ernesto Vaser (impresario del teatro), Mario Voller Buzzi (un ufficiale), Serafino Vité (soldato ubriaco). Prod.: S.A. Ambrosio. 35mm. L.: 871 m. D.: 42 a 18 f/s


Film Notes

Gradeniga discovers that her lover Orseolo is cheating on her with Pantea. In a crescendo of tension, the space of the staging is vast but within reach of fierce looks. Frusta devises a mortal division between those who act unaware and carelessly, those who observe and those who indulge in murderous madness. While the two lovers flirt aboard a pleasure boat, Gradeniga sends for a sorceress to take revenge on her rival. Love. Jealousy. Revenge. Death. Themes that are unfortunately all too relevant today are set here in the cocoon-like fog of the Brenta, D’Annunzian velvet and vessels of sin. She, a haughty dogaressa, he, the usual playboy, the other woman, the usual luxurious and lustful courtesan; instead of a short and to the point revolver, deadly pins are stuck into a wax figure. The hateful rival dies, but so does Gradeniga’s beloved, the victim of her extreme passion. In a state of nefarious rapture, she annihilates and burns love itself.

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dall’omonima pièce di Gabriele D’Annunzio. Scen.: Arrigo Frusta. F.: Giovanni Vitrotti. Int.: Mary Cléo Tarlarini (Gradeniga), Mario Voller Buzzi (Orseolo), Lola Visconti Brignone (Pantea), Antonietta Calderari (Pentella), Gigetta Morano, Giuseppina Ronco (ancelle di Gradeniga), Filippo Costamagna, Oreste Grandi, Paolo Azzurri, Ernesto Vaser (seguito di Pantea). Prod.: S.A. Ambrosio. 35mm. L.: 313 m. D.: 17' a 18 f/s Tinted


Film Notes

The surviving fragment shows the cruel game between the disdainful Kunigund and the passionate Delorges, who futilely seeks to capture her attention: “My lady, every day you make fun of me while I die from love. Test me. I would challenge death for your beautiful eyes”. Frusta was very enthusiastic about the screenplay, but Ambrosio rejected it at first: it was sheer madness proposing another period film and with real lions! After a few months, unexpectedly a new decision was made, and Frusta received instructions to
finish the screenplay quickly. They could save money on the intricate costumes (apparently recycled from another film), but for the beasts prudent and parsimonious Ambrosio was willing to take a risk: he had secretly “engaged a menagerie”. Alfred Schneider showed up on the set with his lions, which became a part of the Via Catania studio’s troupe and a feature of many films. For the sake of avoiding an accident, which would happen on other sets, Schneider dressed up as Delorges retrieves the fateful glove and, having also retrieved some common sense, throws Kunigund’s glove in her face.

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dalla ballata Der Handschuh di Friedrich Schiller. Scen.: Arrigo Frusta. F.: Giovanni Vitrotti. Int.: Mary Cléo Tarlarini (Cunegonda), Giuseppe Gray (Delorge), Mario Voller Buzzi, Alberto A. Capozzi, Mirra Principi, Oreste Grandi, Gigetta Morano. Prod.: S.A. Ambrosio. 35mm. D.: 15'