04 November 2013

Genica Missirio

Genica Missirio (1895-?) was a Romanian actor who starred in the French silent cinema of the 1920s.

Genica Missirio
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 414. Photo: Sartony.

A Huge Commercial Success

Little is known about Genica Missirio, which seems odd, as he was quite a popular actor in French silent cinema of the 1920s.

Missirio was born in Craoiva, Romania in 1895. He had his breakthrough as film actor in the Orientalist adventure film L’Atlantide/Lost Atlantis (Jacques Feyder, 1921). The stars in this adaptation of the Pierre Benoit novel were Jean Angelo, Georges Melchior and Stacia Napierkowska.

Missirio played the captain Aymard, who at the beginning of the film finds lieutenant Saint-Avit (Melchior) in the desert, almost dead. Recovered Saint-Avit narrates how desert queen Antinéa (Napierkowska) seduced him in killing his buddy captain Morhange (Angelo) when Morhange rejected Antinéa. A few years after St. Avit cannot forget Antinea and with Aymard he goes back to her, despite of what she has done.

The film, shot on location in the desert, was a huge commercial success but critical reception was less positive, in particular against Napierkowska, now past her prime and too rotund to be a femme fatale. A rare tinted nitrate copy was found and restored by the Netherlands Filmmuseum (now EYE), in combination with the French intertitles from a French copy, and had its international release at the 1992 Bologna film festival. In 2004 the Dutch restored print was released on DVD by Lobster, and in 2006 again by Home Vision Entertainment on the DVD Rediscover Jacques Feyder.

After L’Atlantide, Missirio was Serge Tchérenkol in Les ailes s’ouvrent/The Wings Open (Guy du Fresnay, 1921), opposite André Roanne and another actress from L’Atlantide: Marie-Louise Iribe. In 1922 he had the male lead in Du Fresnay’s comedy Margot, with Gina Palerme in the title role.

French postcard for the Louis Aubert production L'Atlantide (1921) by Jacques Feyder, based on the novel by Pierre Benoit. The card depicts the French captain Morhange (Jean Angelo) received by the mysterious and cruel desert queen Antinéa (Stacia Napierkowska). The sets were by Manuel Orazi.

MARCHAL, Arlette & MISSIRIO, Génica in Figaro_JRPR; 306
French postcard by P.R.P.R., Paris, no. 306. Photo: Roger Forster. Arlette Marchal and Genica Missirio in Figaro (1929). Collection: Manuel Palomino Arjona @ Flickr.

Notorious Gang Leader

In 1923 Genica Missirio played L’Aristo, a notorious gang leader, in Jean Kemm’s adaptation of Arthur Bernède’s popular novel Vidoq. René Navarre played the title role, and his co-stars were Elmire Vautier, Rachel Devirys and Dolly Davis. In the same year he also acted in La bouquetière des innocents/The Innocent Flower Girl (Jacques Robert, 1923) the part of Concini, favourite of the French Queen of Medici and first minister of France, but hated by the French and finally killed on instigation of king Louis XIII. Claude Merelle was the star of the film, playing the double role of Concini’s scheming wife Leonor, lady-in-waiting of the queen, as well as Margot, the innocent flower girl.

In 1924 Missirio played in Le cavalier de minuit/The midnight rider (R. Alinat, Maurice Champeroy, 1924), starring André Nox and Gina Manès. In the same year he had the male lead in the Albatros production L’affiche/The Poster (Jean Epstein, 1924), with Nathalie Lissenko as his love interest.

In 1926 Missirio acted in L’espionne aux yeux noirs/The black-eyed spy by Henri Desfontaines and in another Pierre Benoit adaptation Le soleil de minuit/The midnight sun by Richard Garrick and Jean Legrand.

In 1927 Missirio was highly active. He played opposite René Navarre in both Poker d’as/Poker of aces (Henri Desfontaines, 1927) and Belphégor (Henri Desfontaines, 1927). He was Joachim Murat opposite Albert Diedonné as Napoleon in Abel Gance’s epic Napoléon (1927). He also played the love interest of France Dhélia opposite Constant Rémy in Le chemin de la gloire/The road to glory (Gaston Roudès, 1927) and had the male lead in Le prince Zilah/Prince Zilah (Gaston Roudès, 1927) with France Dhélia.

Genica Missirio’s last films were Madame Recamier (Gaston Tavel, Tony Lekain, 1928) starring Marie Bell - Missirio played Lucien Bonaparte, and Figaro (Gaston Tavel, 1929) starring Edmond Van Duren and Arlette Marchal.

Possibly because of his foreign accent, Genica Missirio never made the passage to sound cinema and  quitted film acting. Unknown is when or where he died.

L’Atlantide (1921) (complete film). Source: ArchivesNumCineDZ (YouTube).

Sources: Cineressources and IMDb.

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