and an imprudent and disorganized administration. A chain of bankrupt production and distribution companies was but one symptom of the problem.
On the 'high' level of art cinema, the trio ViscontiFellini-Antonioni replaced the 1940s trio Rossellini-De Sica-Visconti. After La terra trema ( 1948), more a sort of enchanting Marxist mystery play than the apotheosis of neo-realism seen in it by many critics (in retrospect, Bellissima was probably his most neo-realist film), Visconti moved on to Senso ( 1954), where his penchant for profaned Romanticism and collapse came to the fore. Together with The Leopard (Il gattopardo, 1962) and Ludwig ( 1972), Senso parades more than elsewhere Visconti's qualities as a master of sumptuous mise-en-scéne, who struggles to reconcile his taste for cultural decadence and his lay, progressive humanism with the scope of the novel and a vocation for melodrama. Rocco and his Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli, 1960), on the other hand, narrates the destiny of a family when it emigrates from the deep south to the Milan of the boom years and the film represents a return to neorealism and a sort of ideal continuation of La terra trema. It was the 'national-popular' (to use the phrase of Antonio Gramsci) work which Visconti had set his sights on from early in his career.
The two most significant auteurs to emerge in the 1950s were Antonioni and Fellini. Michelangelo Antonioni had from his first film, Cronaca di un amore ('Chronicle of a love affair', 1950), set himself apart from neo-realism through his lucid and concentrated analysis of bourgeois psychology. From then, with an obstinacy which at times verged on monotony, he confronted the themes and problems, or better the neuroses, of a neo-capitalist society: couples, emotional crises, loneliness, difficulties of communication, existential alienation. His films are 'the blues' of bourgeois crises, in which thinly veiled autobiography serves as a record of the time. Their rejection of traditional plot structures, and insistence on the 'dead time', or stasis, of dramatic action, are designed to restore full causal significance to events and phenomena. His films of the period include Il grido ('The cry', 1957) and the trilogy made up of L'avventura ('The adventure', 1960), La notte ('The night', 1961), and The Eclipse (L'eclisse, 1962).
If Antonioni seemed, by inspiration and by temperament, European, Federico Fellini seemed conversely intensely provincial, caught between Rome and his native Romagna. After Lo sceicco bianco ('The white sheik', 1952) and I vitelloni ('The layabouts', 1953), whose grotesque and at times acutely satirical irony -- helped by the writer Ennio Flaiano's screenplay -- remained rooted in a precise social context, Fellini moved into an inner, visionary dreamworld -- a first-person cinema -- with La strada ('The road', 1954). From the spectacle of La strada it was then a small step to the self-display which begins with La dolce vita ('The good life', 1960), a film which marks a watershed in the history of Italian cinema.
Apré, Adriano, and Pistagnesi, Patrizia (eds.) ( 1979), The Fabulous Thirties.
Bondanella, Peter ( 1990), Italian Cinema: from neorealism to the present.
Brunetta, Gian Piero, Cent'anni di cinema italiano.
----, Storia del cinema italiano, Vol I: 1905-1945.
----, Storia del cinema italiano, Vol II: Dal 1945 agli anni ottanta.
Faldini, Franca, and Fofi, Goffredo ( 1979), L'avventurosa storia del cinema italiano raccontato dai suoi protagonisti, 1935-1959.
Leprohon, Pierre ( 1972), The Italian Cinema.
Marcus, Millicent ( 1986), Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism.
The commercial exploitation of synchronized sound cinema came about in Britain almost entirely with American technology. Warner Bros.' Vitaphone wax discs, and then Fox's Movietone sound-on-film process, spoke and sang in Britain in the 1930s, with the German Tobis Company jostling for some of the action. This was yet one more sign of the American domination of the British film industry by the 1920s, the outcome of several combined advantages. America had the largest home audience of any national film industry, so producers were able to cover production costs at home, making practically all earnings abroad into profits. American distributors thus had the flexibility to undercut their competitors in foreign markets; even the strongest non-American circuits were unable to overcome the American business practices of price undercutting, block booking, and blind bidding. In 1927 between 80 and 90 per cent of feature films in circulation in Britain were American.
The popularity of American films with audiences made British exhibitors reluctant to book British-made films, further disabling the home industry. The situation became so dire that in November 1924, clubbed 'Black November', film output ceased entirely. As a result the Conservative government passed protectionist measures