The Oxford History of World Cinema

By Geoffrey Nowell-Smith | Go to book overview

nation-wide audiences. 'A santanotte ('Holy Night') and E'piccerella ('The little girl', Film Dora, 1922), both directed by Elvira Notari, are two of the most important films in a genre which has its roots in the Neapolitan popular theatre form, the sceneggiata (a simple, powerful drama interspersed with popular songs), which was directed and acted by non-professionals, with no artistic or technical training, and yet which managed to strike a chord with the audiences' feelings.

Still in Naples, Gustavo Lombardo had set up his own production company in 1918 which emerged unscathed from the collapse of UCI. Hence, in the second half of the 1920s, when directors, actors, and technicians were leaving in droves for France and Germany, Lombardo Film continued to produce a steady stream of relatively goodquality films, including a number starring the talented actress Leda Gys. Gys had performed with outstanding results alongside Francesca Bertini in the pantomime Histoire d'un pierrot ('A pierrot's story', Italica Ars/Celio Film, 1914) by Baldassarre Negroni. For Lombardo, she made a trilogy entitled Ifigli di nessuno ('Children of nobody', 1921), directed by Ubaldo Maria Del Colle, which combined populist drama with a significant degree of polemical social critique. Lombardo Film changed its name to Titanus, and some years later moved to Rome to join forces with a new organization founded by the Genoese producer Stefano Pittaluga in a move which radically transformed the distribution system throughout Italy.

In the desolate panorama of the national film industry at the end of the 1920s, there are some signs of renewal. The influence of the Fascist regime was still only marginal: it had set up the Istituto Nazionale LUCE (acronym of L'Unione Cinematografica Educativa -- the Union of Cinema and Education) in 1924 with the aim of exploiting cinema for propagandist and didactic ends, but it generally refrained from direct intervention in the affairs of the industry. Aldo De Benedetti demonstrated in La grazia ('Grace', Attori e Direttori Italiani Associati, 1929) how even a traditional story-line could give rise to a style of filming of extraordinary purity.

The first Italian sound film to be released was a sentimental comedy by Gennaro Righelli, La canzone dell'amore ('The love song', Cines, 1930), which came out also in French and German versions. It was shortly followed by Sole ('Sun', Società Anonima Augustus, 1929) by Alessandro Blasetti, a film about the draining of the Pontine marshes which showed the influence of German and Soviet cinema. Another young director, Mario Camerini, who had already shown himself capable of injecting new energy into the worn formulas of adventure films and bourgeois comedies through a more smooth and technically sophisticated style -- as in Voglio tradire mio marito! ('I want to betray my husband!', Fert Film, 1925) and Kif tebby (Attori e Direttori Italiani Associati, 1928) -- now took a further step forwards with Rotaie ('Rails', SACIA, 1929), which was shot as a silent film, but came out two years later in a sound version. The Sole and Rotaie are marked by clearly differing intentions, but both are inclined towards experimentation with new forms which refashion with vision and authority the Italian vocation for realism.


Bernardini, Aldo ( 1980-82), Cinema muto italiano, 1896-1914.

--- (ed.) ( 1991), Archivo del cinema italiano, Vol. i: Il cinema muto, 19051931.

--- and Gili, Jean A. (eds.) ( 1986), Le Cinéma italien.

--- and Martinelli, Vittorio ( 1979), Il cinema italiano degli anni Venti.

Brunetta, Gian Piero ( 1980), Stotia del cinema italiano, Vol. i: 1905- 1945.

Dall'Asta, Monica ( 1992), Un Cinéma musclé: le surhomme dans le cinéma muet italien (1913-1926).

Leprohon, Pierre ( 1972), The Italian Cinema.

Martinelli, Vittorio ( 1980-91), "Il cinema muto italiano, 1915- 1931".

Masi, Stefano, and Franco, Mario ( 1988), Il mare, la luna, i coltelli: per una storia del cinema muto napoletano.

Redi, Riccardo ( 1986), Ti parlerb . . . d'amor: cinema italiano fra muto e sonoro.

British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock


The tendency among film historians has always been to represent the British cinema as having had influential and innovative beginnings-the so-called British pioneers-but then to have fallen into decline and stagnation. From this perspective, as expressed for example by Georges Sadoul ( 1951), Rescued by Rover (Cecil Hepworth, 1905) is the high point. Films produced after that date, particularly in the period ( 1908-13) when one-reel dramatic narrative was dominant, have been neglected. Even writers like Barry Salt ( 1992), who has done a careful formal analysis of films from the early years, have focused perhaps unduly on fictional dramatic narrative, at the expense of the comic film and -- even more important -- the various forms of actuality film.


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The Oxford History of World Cinema
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Contents xi
  • Special Features xv
  • List of Colour Illustrations xvii
  • General Introduction xix
  • 1 - Silent Cinema 1895-1930 1
  • Origins and Survival 6
  • Early Cinema 13
  • Transitional Cinema 23
  • The Hollywood Studio System 43
  • The World-Wide Spread of Cinema 53
  • The First World War and the Crisis in Europe 62
  • Tricks and Animation 71
  • Comedy 78
  • Documentary 86
  • Cinema and the Avant-Garde 95
  • Serials 105
  • French Silent Cinema 112
  • Italy- Spectacle and Melodrama 123
  • British Cinema from Hepworth to Hitchcock 130
  • Germany- The Weimar Years 136
  • The Scandinavian Style 151
  • Pre-Revolutionary Russia 159
  • The Soviet Union and the Russian émigrés 162
  • Yiddish Cinema in Europe 174
  • Japan- Before the Great Kanto Earthquake 177
  • Music and the Silent Film 183
  • The Heyday of the Silents 192
  • 2 - Sound Cinema 1930-1960 205
  • The Introduction of Sound 211
  • Hollywood- The Triumph of the Studio System 220
  • Censorship and Self-Regulation 235
  • The Sound of Music 248
  • Technology and Innovation 259
  • Animation 267
  • Cinema and Genre 276
  • The Western 286
  • The Musical 294
  • Crime Movies 304
  • The Fantastic 312
  • Documentary 322
  • Socialism, Fascism, and Democracy 333
  • The Popular Art of French Cinema 344
  • Italy from Fascism to Neo-Realism 353
  • Britain at the End of Empire 361
  • Germany- Nazism and after 374
  • East Central Europe before the Second World War 383
  • Soviet Film under Stalin 389
  • Indian Cinema- Origins to Independence 398
  • China before 1949 409
  • The Classical Cinema in Japan 413
  • The Emergence of Australian Film 422
  • Cinema in Latin America 427
  • After the War 436
  • Transformation of the Hollywood System 443
  • Independents and Mavericks 451
  • 3 - The Modern Cinema 1960-1995 461
  • Television and the Film Industry 466
  • The New Hollywood 475
  • New Technologies 483
  • Sex and Sensation 490
  • The Black Presence in American Cinema 497
  • Exploitation and the Mainstream 509
  • Dreams and Nightmares in the Hollywood Blockbuster 516
  • Cinéma-Vérité and the New Documentary 527
  • Avant-Garde Film- The Second Wave 537
  • Animation in the Post-Industrial Era 551
  • Modern Film Music 558
  • Art Cinema 567
  • New Directions in French Cinema 576
  • Italy- Auteurs and after 586
  • Spain after Franco 596
  • British Cinema- The Search for Identity 604
  • The New German Cinema 614
  • East Germany- The Defa Story 627
  • Changing States in East Central Europe 632
  • Russia after the Thaw 640
  • Cinema in the Soviet Republics 651
  • Turkish Cinema 656
  • The Arab World 661
  • The Cinemas of Sub-Saharan Africa 667
  • Iranian Cinema 672
  • India- Filming the Nation 678
  • Indonesian Cinema 690
  • China after the Revolution 693
  • Popular Cinema in Hong Kong 704
  • Taiwanese New Cinema 711
  • The Modernization of Japanese Film 714
  • New Australian Cinema 722
  • New Zealand Cinema 731
  • Canadian Cinema/Cinéma Canadien 731
  • New Cinemas in Latin America 740
  • New Concepts of Cinema 750
  • The Resurgence of Cinema 759
  • Index 785
  • List of Picture Sources 823


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