Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 14:30


Lois Weber, Phillips Smalley
Introduced by

Mariann Lewinsky e John Sweeney




Piano accompaniment by

Accompanied by John Sweeney (piano) and Frank Bockius (drums)


Tuesday 30/06/2015


Original version with simultaneous translation through headphones


Film Notes

The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916) was a project by two powerful artists: director Lois Weber and dancer/choreographer Anna Pavlova. The production was huge, one of Universal’s most expensive up to that time.
The only version known to have survived was a 35mm nitrate reissue print dating from the 1920’s preserved at the BFI until we located a second print at the New York Public Library. Even though this was 16mm and probably duped from a Kodascope reduction, it could be used to complete the existing 35mm print and bring the film back closer to the original version.
The 35mm print had remade 1920’s intertitles but fortunately the 16mm print had the original plain-looking titles standard to Universal productions. The decision to replace all the titles in the 35mm print with the originals considerably smoothed the narrative flow.
As examined the 16mm print in detail, we found extra shots that were absent from the 35mm print. (Invariably, these turned out to be scenes of extreme violence and bloodshed – pretty graphic stuff for 1915.) It was fairly easy to reinstate them into the continuity of our digital workprint from a narrative point of view and although the image quality is decidedly lower than the bulk of the film, we feel that the restored version is now probably as close as we can get to the original continuity until (wishful thinking) a more complete print is unearthed.
A final story: the ending of the film bothered us – it bore one of those awkward reissue titles and was exceedingly abrupt. The film ends with a Pavlova dance number, but in the 35mm print, had been cut to about 35 seconds. We looked back over the 16mm print and discovered something that had been there all the time, spliced near to the beginning of the film, where the star does a short exhibition dance. It was well over two-and-a-half-minutes long and a complete routine – Pavlova’s parting gift to her audience. Feverishly, we placed the sequence at the tail and removed the intertitle and – there was our ending: delicate, beautiful, sad, and joyful.

Geo Willeman and Valerie Cervantes

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Eugène Scribe, Germaine Delavigne. Scen.: Lois Weber. F.: Dal Clawson, Al Siegler, R.W. Walter. Int.: Anna Pavlova (Fenella), Rupert Julian (Masaniello), Wadsworth Harris (duca d’Arcos), Douglas Gerrard (Alphonso), John Holt (Conde), Betty Schade (Isabella), Edna Maison (Elvira), Hart Hoxie (Perrone), William Wolbert (Pietro), Laura Oakley (Rilla). Prod.: Universal Film Mfg. Co. · DCP. Bn.