The History of Motion Pictures

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

changed. Palermi agreed, then went on to Berlin, where prospective distributors suggested a few more changes. On his return to Rome the actors who had been got rid of demanded huge compensation. Several million lira had already been spent. Palermi gave up and asked Carmine Gallone to finish the picture. It was the most costly of all Italian productions and, need one add, one of the worst.

In any case it was only a hang-over, for in reality the Italian film industry was in its death throes--the industry, not the art of the film. It was not until the Fascist reconstruction was really under way that any interesting films were to appear--not, in other words, until the talkies came in. From its very beginnings until 1923 the Italian film was really a monstrosity. In it one sees as through a magnifying glass all the worst faults that endangered the course of the European and the American film alike and even endanger it yet. Its chosen domain lay in the garbling of literary works, in submitting to the pernicious influence of Sardou, d'Annunzio and Sienkiewicz, and an extravagant habit of re-creating the past, and especially the history of antiquity. As faults, these were not peculiar to Italy, though there they were indulged to a degree almost phenomenal. They were to reappear elsewhere, in that masterpiece of all the productions in the Italian manner, namely, the American-made Ben Hur.


6. The American Film

THE END of the war coincided with a crisis in the American film industry. Most of the companies had undergone radical changes during 1918. Towards the end of that year the influenza epidemic swept the country; many of the cinemas closed, and it was difficult to get anyone to rent a film. At the same moment, public taste underwent a violent change. Overnight everyone suddenly sickened of the patriotic war pictures which had been turned out wholesale: miles of film had to be scrapped, other pictures taken out of production. There was a general shift from the heroic vir-

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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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