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21 June 2017

Vele ammainate (1931)

Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (Anton Giulio Bragaglia, 1931) is an early Italian sound film, produced by Cines-Pittaluga. Dria Paola starred in this melodrama, which lacked a good script but had excellent cinematography and art direction as can be seen on the postcards.

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 4. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 64. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 71. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 83. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

An infamous harbour tavern in the Tropes


Dria Paola (1909-1993) was an Italian film actress of the 1930s and 1940s. Her name is attached to the first Italian sound film La canzone dell’amore/The Song of Love (1930) by Gennaro Righelli.

In Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails, Paola plays Aurora, the daughter of the keeper of an infamous harbour tavern in the Tropes. Her lurid and vulgar father (Umberto Guarracino) mistreats her all the time, which attracts the attention of a dashing young captain (Carlo Fontana), who is stuck in the harbour town because he has lost his ship in a storm and he is penniless. The captain defends the girl against the brutal father and a cheeky rival. In the end after he has regained income and paid for a new ship, he takes the girl with him on his new ship.

The Cinema Illustrazione reported in 1931 that the cinematography and scenography of the film were excellent, such as can be seen in the storm scene, or in the buoyant atmosphere in the tavern. However, the magazine condemned the poor script, the editing and the direction. Dria Paola did not get much space to develop her character, which was deplored in general as well, not only for this film.

The cinematography of Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails was done by Massimo Terzano and Domenico Scala, and the sets were designed by art directors Gastone Medin and Ivo Perilli. Indoor shooting was done at the Cines studios, outdoor shooting in Savona. Vele ammainate premiered around 21 December 1931 in Rome.

For both director Anton Giulio Bragaglia and Dria's co-star Umberto Guarracino Vele ammainate was their last film.The strongman Umberto Guarracino already played bad guys in the silent era, starting as the Monster in Il mostro di Frankenstein (1921) with Luciano Albertini as Dr. Frankenstein, followed by parts in Luciano Albertini's earliest German films, directed by Joseph Delmont in 1921, and a few other German films. In 1922-1923 he returned to Italy, to act in the Maciste films of the 1920s, in which he was called Cimaste. Dria Paola's other co-star Carlo Fontana was a little known actor, who only did four feature films, between 1929 and 1937.

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 91. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 104. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

Vele ammainate (1931)
Italian postcard, no. 108. Photo: Cines-Pittaluga. Publicity still for Vele ammainate/Lowered Sails (1931).

Dria Paola in La canzone dell'amore
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 887. Photo: Cines Pittaluga, Roma. Publicity still of Dria Paola in La canzone dell’amore (1930).

Source: Roberto Chiti/Enrico Lancia (I film, vol. I: Tutti i film italiani dal 1930 al 1944), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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