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19 October 2016

La Wally (1932)

Italian stage and screen actress Germana Paolieri featured as Wally (German Paolieri), the most beautiful girl in the town of Sölden in Tyrol, in La Wally (1932). This early Italian sound film, based on the opera by Alfredo Catalani, offered lots of singing and heavy acting, snowstorms, fathomless depths, dark woods on the slopes, waterfalls, and capricious skies over Southern Tyrol.

Germana Paolieri in La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 60. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), starring Germana Paolieri as Wally.

Carlo Ninchi and Isa Pola in La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 3. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), co-starring Carlo Ninchi and Isa Pola.

A love obstructed


Wally (Germana Paolieri) loves bear hunter Hagenbach (Carlo Ninchi), but their love is obstructed by all close to them.

A rival lover, Vincenzo Gellner (Renzo Ricci) plots to set up Wally’s father Stromminger (Achille Majeroni) against Hagenbach, and an old feud between the old man and the young one restarts. In the village inn the two get into a fight, after which Wally’s is chased from her house and flees into the mountains.

A year passes, Stromminger dies and Wally inherits his fortune, while Hagenbach engages to Afra (Isa Pola). At the next Spring party in Sölden, both Hagenbach and Wally attend. Hagenbach’s friends bet he cannot kiss his former girlfriend but Hagenbach wins.

Yet, when Wally finds out she has been the object of a bet, she hates Hagenbach. She even pushes rival Gellner to kill Hagenbach, but she repents and saves him, lifting him unconscious from a ravine.

Wally hides in a cabin where her lover Hagenbach comes to ask for forgiveness. She also confesses and the two reunite. The film ends tragically though. Hagenbach dies because of an avalanche and out of despair Wally throws herself into the ravine.

Carlo Ninchi in La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard with French text by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 47. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), co-starring Carlo Ninchi.

La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 52. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), starring Germana Paolieri as Wally.

La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 64. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932).

A Story from the Tyrolean Alps


La Wally (1932) was directed by Guido Brignone and was based on the opera by composer Alfredo Catalani, to a libretto by Luigi Illica, first performed at La Scala, Milan in 1892. The libretto is based on a hugely successful Heimatroman by Wilhelmine von Hillern, Die Geier-Wally, Eine Geschichte aus den Tyroler Alpen (The Vulture Wally: A Story from the Tyrolean Alps).

While the Italian film version was in production in 1931, the press boosted that it would be released in six different versions: Italian, Spanish, English, German, French and ‘international’ (unspecified).

An orchestra of 150 musicians would accompany the visuals and a ballet of over 200 would do dance scenes, while location shooting was done in the village of Solden, involving 150 workers, 50 set designers and 25 painters.

The painter Gastone Medin provided an 80 m high and 25 m large background scenery. Authentic folklorist costumes from local museums in Bolzano, Merano and elsewhere were used.

The opera La Wally is now best known for its aria Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (Well, then? I'll go far away), sung when Wally decides to leave her home forever). American soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez sang this aria in Jean-Jacques Beineix's thriller Diva (1981).

La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 65. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932).

Germana Paolieri and Renzo Ricci in La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 70. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), starring Germana Paolieri as Wally and Renzo Ricci as her jealous lover.

La Wally (1932)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 98. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for La Wally (Guido Brignone, 1932), starring Germana Paolieri as Wally.


Trailer Diva (1981). Source: Umbrella Entertainment (YouTube).

Sources: Delpher (Dutch), Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.

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