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.
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-