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15 June 2016

La signora di tutti (1934)

Isa Miranda (1905–1982) was the only international film star produced by the Italian fascist cinema. Her breakthrough film was the drama La signora di tutti (1934), the only Italian film of the great director Max Ophüls. Isa Miranda played her future self: a glamorous and famous film star who is everybody's woman...  Her haunting beauty drives men mad.

Isa Miranda in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Isa Miranda.

Isa Miranda and Memo Benassi in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Isa Miranda and Memo Benassi.

Isa Miranda and Memo Benassi in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard. by Rizzoli, Milano, 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Isa Miranda and Memo Benassi.

Attracting Men Like Moths to a Flame


Isa Miranda plays Gabriella Murge, aka famous film star Gaby Doriot,  a woman who attracts men like moths, destroying themselves or others.

The film opens with a panorama of the film studio where after a frantic search her agent finds her after an attempted suicide.

On the operation table Gaby relives her life. At school, a married music teacher commits suicide, after telling her he can't live without her. Though she has done nothing, she is punished for his act by her stern father (Lamberto Picasso).

At a party of Roberto Nanni (Enrico/ Federico Benfer), son of wealthy businessman Leonardo Nanni, Roberto and Gaby fall in love. Roberto's handicapped mother Alma (Tatiana Pavlova), fearful of Gaby's reputation, eventually loves her and adopts her as aid.

While Roberto is away, Leonardo (Memo Benassi) falls in love with Gaby and takes her to the opera. Fate strikes when Leonardo declares Gaby his love in front of his villa, while a desperate Alma falls down the stairs in her wheelchair, killing herself.

Nelly Corradi in La Signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Nelly Corradi, Lamberto Picasso and Maria Puccini. Caption: Film prescelta per la II Biennale Cinematograficia di Venezia. (Film selected for the second Venice Film Festival).

Enrico Benfer and Isa Miranda in La signora di tutti
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1913 - XXII. Photo: Novella-Film. Enrico Benfer and Isa Miranda in La signora di tutti (Max Ophüls, 1934).

Enrico Benfer and Nelly Corradi in La Signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1934 - XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Enrico Benfer and Nelly Corradi.

Haunted by the memory


After a seemingly endless trip to forget the disaster, during which Leonardo ignores business troubles, Gaby is haunted by the memory of the house when they return and flees hysterically.

Leonardo is charged with embezzlement and sentenced to prison, while Gaby becomes a big movie star. Once released, Leonardo is stunned by the multiplication of images of Gaby in a cinema foyer, during the premiere of her new film.

Chased for his poor attire, he is run over by a car. To avoid scandal, Gaby's entourage calls in Roberto to exonerate her. Gaby realises she has loved Roberto all along, but is too late, as Roberto married her more modest sister Anna (Nelly Corradi).

"We'll still be together in the film", Roberto says. Gaby realises she will stay lonesome despite wealth and stardom and commits suicide. The flashback ends with doctors declaring her death and the printing presses stopping to print her film poster.

At AllMovie, Hal Erickson writes that  La Signora di Tutti can be regarded as a dress rehearsal for Ophüls' masterpiece Lola Montes (1955): "though it comes nowhere near the brilliance of that later classic (...), but Ophuls' basic premise--that fame and celebrity are ultimately hollow entities--is not to be taken lightly. The director's fabled camera techniques help smooth over some of the rougher and more ludicrous passages."
Isa Miranda in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Isa Miranda.

Isa Miranda in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Isa Miranda.

Isa Miranda, Memo Benassi and Tatiana Pavlova in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, no. 1934 - XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Isa Miranda, Tatiana Pavlova and Memo Benassi.

Isa Miranda and Enrico Benfer in La signora di tutti (1934)
Italian postcard. by Rizzoli, Milano, 1934-XII. Photo: Novella-Film. Publicity still for La signora di tutti/Everybody's Woman (Max Ophüls, 1934) with Enrico Benfer and Isa Miranda.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie). Wikipedia (English), IMDb and the film itself.

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