The History of Motion Pictures

By Maurice Bardèche; Robert Brasillach et al. | Go to book overview

lovers of chiaroscuro, had been reincarnated in these businessmen who wanted to give Germany a new art, and who succeeded in doing so for a few years.


5. The Italian Film

THE Italian film went gradually downhill from the time of the war until 1923. After the Armistice there had seemed, however, considerable hopes for its commercial development. The lawyer Mecheri had just gained control of the Itala Films with its enormous resources and hordes of actors. A combine had been effected under the management of Mecheri's rival Barattolo, the Italian Cinema Union, which gradually bought up all the remaining studios and actors. Actually this was the beginning of the end.

At first by sacrificing everything for prestige, Barattolo gradually brought the Union to the verge of ruin. Then the actors and directors, under the strange dictatorship of this businessman, lost interest and pride in their work and worked simply to make money. The Union also invented the horrible system of block booking which other firms all over the world were to imitate, beginning with Paramount and Pathé-Natan. It is familiar enough now: films were grouped into lots of ten and were supposed to consist of three featuring stars and seven second-class productions. The whole block was rented for 100,000 lira a district, exclusively. Often a man who found one good film to nine duds was lucky, but it was impossible to obtain that one without also taking the others. It was this system which ruined the Union and endangered the foreign firms which adopted it--if it ruined them, it served them right.

To fight the Union another firm was organized, the F.E.R.T. This firm gave a great deal of liberty to its directors, but one can hardly say that they used it to much purpose: Ghione's films ( The Golden Quadrant, The Blue Countess) were about the same as those of Righelli ( The Rose Queen, Scarlet Love) or those of

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The History of Motion Pictures
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword xi
  • Translator's Note *
  • Part One - The Birth of the Film 1895-1908 1
  • Part Two - The Prewar Film 1908-1914 37
  • Part Three - The Cinema during the World War 1914-1918 91
  • 1 - The Italian Film 95
  • 2 - The American Film 98
  • 3 - The French Film 127
  • 4 - The German Film and the Danish Film 134
  • 5 - The Swedish Film 136
  • 6 - The Russian Film 140
  • Part Four - The Emergence of an Art 1919-1923 145
  • 1 - The French Film 147
  • 2 - The Russian Film 168
  • 4 - The German Film 187
  • 5 - The Italian Film 196
  • 6 - The American Film 199
  • Part Five - The Classic Era of the Silent Film 1923-1929 223
  • 1 - The French Film 225
  • 2 - The German Film 251
  • 3 - The Scandinavian Film 263
  • 4 - The Russian Film 266
  • 5 - The American Film 283
  • 6 - The Death of Art 300
  • Part Six - The Talking Films 1929-1935 303
  • 1 - The American Film 305
  • 3 - The German Film 341
  • 4 - The Russian Film 353
  • 5 - A World Industry 361
  • Part Seven - Forty Years of Film 367
  • Editorial Postscript: 1935-1938 381
  • Index of Film Titles 391
  • General Index 405
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