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15 June 2012

Armando Falconi

Armando Falconi (1871 - 1954) was an Italian stage and screen actor. Though he was foremost a theatre actor, he had a prolific career as comedian in the Italian cinema of the 1930's and early 1940's.

Armando Falconi and Tina Di Lorenzo
Italian postcard by NPC, no. 19. Photo: Varischi Artico & Co., Milano.

Duelling with a Reporter
Armando Falconi was born in Rome, Italy in 1871. Falconi followed in his parents’ footsteps: his father Pietro Falconi was first actor then company leader, while his mother Adelaide Negri was also an actress. His brother Arturo Falconi was a dramatic actor, but had less success than the rest of the family. At 23, Armando was enrolled in a Neapolitan theatre company. He fared particularly well as a comic actor, so he was asked to play in many comedies. During a tour in Hungary, Falconi fell in love with his cousin Tina Di Lorenzo , one of the greatest stage actresses in her time. After duelling with a reporter who had offended her, Falconi married Di Lorenzo in 1901. Their bond was also professional, as they often performed together. The couple also appeared in some short silent films together such as La scintilla/The spark (1915, Eleuterio Rodolfi) with Oreste Bilancia, and La bella mamma/The beautiful mother (1915) . They had a son, Dino Falconi (1902 - 1990), who would become a script writer and film director. Between 1905 and 1912 Falconi had his own theatre company. Famous stage parts of Falconi were Falstaff in William Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor, Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay, and Leone in Addio Giovinezza by Sandro Camasio and Nino Oxilia.

Armando Falconi
Italian postcard, no. 289. Photo: Badodi.

 Armando Falconi
Italian postcard, no. 288. Photo: Badodi.

Naive and Elderly Stealer of Hearts
Armando Falconi was a familiar face in the Italian cinema of the 1930's and early 1940's. He was often type-casted as the naive and elderly stealer of hearts. In 1931 Falconi debuted in the film Rubacuori/The Sheik (1931, Guido Brignone). In the same year he went to the Paris Paramount studio in Joinville, to act in the Italian version of the multilingual The Devil’s Holiday, La vacanza del diavolo (1931, Jack Salvatori). Falconi scripted the film himself. Afterwards Falconi had a very prolific career in Italian sound cinema, mostly in comedy. He worked with reputed directors on films like La stella del cinema (1931, Mario Almirante), La segretaria per tutti (1933, Amleto Palermi) with Vittorio De Sica, and Joe il Rosso (1936, Raffaello Matarazzo). Later films include Felicita Colombo (1937), Don Pasquale (1940, Camillo Mastrocinque), Il biricchino di papa (1942, Raffaello Matarazzo), and La locandiera (1943). In I promessi sposi (1941, Mario Camerini) he played a wise Don Abbondio. Falconi also acted in films directed by foreign directors, such as like Max Neufeld Cento lettere d’amor (1940, Max Neufeld) and La nascita di Salomé (1940, Jean Choux). His son Dino wrote scripts for many films in which his father performed and directed him in Vento di milioni (1940). In 1943 an accident ruined Falconi’s career: he fell in the Cines studios in Rome, and was never able to recover from this unfortunate event. Afterwards he only rarely reappeared in film. Complicating his condition even more was Parkinon’s disease, which forced him to stay immobile until his death. Armando Falconi died in Milan in 1954. He was 83.

 Armando Falconi and Conchita Montenegro
Italian postcard. Armando Falconi and Conchita Montenegro in the Italo-Spanish coproduction La nascita di Salome (1940, Jean Choux), shot in the Cinecittà studios in Rome. Conchita Montenegro was a Spanish model, dancer, and stage and screen actress.

 Armando Falconi
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 2557. Series Cines-Pittaluga.

Sources: MyMovies, Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.

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