20 May 2022

Laura Nucci

Italian actress Laura Nucci (1913-1994) was one of the stars of the Fascist era. Between 1930 and 1989, she appeared in more than 60 films and TV series.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 339. Photo: Vaselli. Postcard for the film Rita da Cascia (Antonio Leonviola, 1943).

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze, no. 2350. Photo: E.N.I.C.

Laura Nucci in  L'impiegata di papà (1934)
Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze, no. 2629. Photo: Produzione S.A.P.F. (Società Anonima Produzione Film).Laura Nucci in L'impiegata di papà/Dad's employee (Alessandro Blasetti, 1934).

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard. Photo: Bragaglia, Cinecittà, no. 7788.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze, no. 20860. Photo: Venturini.

Beauty competition


Laura Nucci was born Maria Laura Lodovici in Carrara, Italy in 1913. She was the sister of actor and stage author Carlo Lodovici.

After she had won a beauty competition at the age of 16, the elegant and voluptuous Nucci made her film debut in the silent film La Leggenda di Wally (Gian Orlando Vassallo, 1930) featuring Linda Pini as La Wally.

One of her next films was the historical drama Palio (1932) directed by Alessandro Blasetti and starring Leda Gloria. The film is set against the backdrop of the Palio di Siena horse race during the Medieval era.

Nucci continued the collaboration with director Alessandro Blasetti and she played the antagonist or the femme fatale in many of his films. She also appeared in films like the comedy Un cattivo soggetto/Bad Subject (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1933), starring Vittorio De Sica.

Soon she was one of the stars of the Italian cinema of the Fascist era. One of the most important films of the Mussolini regime was the historical film Condottieri (1937) directed by Luis Trenker and starring Trenker, Loris Gizzi, and Laura Nucci.

It portrays the life of Giovanni de' Medici, a celebrated Condottiere of the sixteenth century. A separate German-language version was also made. The film received 9.6 million lire of funding from the Italian government, as part of a major drive by the Fascist authorities to develop the Italian film industry (which also involved the construction of the large Cinecittà complex in Rome).

Along with Scipio Africanus, the film was an attempt to harness history to support the Fascist regime's current policies. Condottieri drew parallels between the dictator Benito Mussolini and the historical figure of de' Medici, portraying both as unifying Italy. She also starred in the adventure film Fra' Diavolo/The Adventures of Fra Diavolo (Luigi Zampa, 1942) opposite Enzo Fiermonte. During the German occupation of Rome in 1943-1944, Laura Nucci became a close friend of Erich Priebke, the captain of the Gestapo.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Rizzoli & C., Milano, 1941. Photo: Venturini.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Rizzoli & C., Milano, 1940. Photo: Venturini.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini (B.F.F. Edit.), Firenze, no. 3817. Photo: E.N.I.C.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard, no. 52. Photo: Vaselli.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Ed. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 4364. Photo: Vaselli / Atlas Film / Artisti Associati. Publicity still for Rita da Cascia (Antonio Leonviola, 1943).

Spaghetti Western


Laura Nucci’s career halted in 1943. It was set back by the downfall of the fascist regime, but from 1950 on, she began appearing in films again as a character actress.

She also worked regularly for Italian television. She was part of the cast of the TV series Pride and Prejudice (Daniele D'Anza, 1957).

During the 1960s and 1970s, Nucci appeared in several genre films. The peplum Anthar l'invincibile/Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules (Antonio Margheriti, 1964) was an Italian/French/Spanish co-production filmed in Algeria and featuring bodybuilder Kirk Morris.

She also appeared in a Spaghetti Western, Ramon il Messicano/Ramon the Mexican (Maurizio Pradeaux, 1966). In the Giallo Solamente nero/The Bloodstained Shadow (Antonio Bido, 1978), she played the stepmother of Stefania Casini.

One of her best-known films is the crime film A ciascuno il suo/We Still Kill the Old Way (Elio Petri, 1967), starring Gian Maria Volonté and Irene Papas. It was entered into the 1967 Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best Screenplay. It was written by Elio Petri and Ugo Pirro.

On television, Nucci played the role of Mrs. Ida in the film Ricomincio da tre/Groundhog Day Three (Massimo Troisi, 1981). She was also known for films such as Colpire al cuore/Blow to the Heart (Gianni Amelio, 1983) and Fratelli d'Italia (Neri Parenti 1989).

Laura Nucci died in 1994 in Rome, Lazio, Italy.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Aser, Roma, no. N 1. Photo: Ciolfi.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Fotopan, Rotante, no. 552, 1941.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Fotopan, Rotante, no. 0032, 1941.

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 126.

Laura Nucci in La Signorina (1942)
Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 221. Photo: Pesce. Publicity still for La Signorina/The young lady (Ladislao Kish, 1942).

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 220. Photo: Pesce. Publicity still for La Signorina/The young lady (Ladislao Kish, 1942).

Laura Nucci
Italian postcard by Armando Terzoli, Roma, no. 219. Photo: Pesce. Publicity still for La Signorina/The young lady (Ladislao Kish, 1942).

Sources: Wikipedia (English, German and Italian) and IMDb.

19 May 2022

Soviet film postcards of the 1920s

During the 1920s, the cinema of the Soviet Union was at its best. But who were the actors in these films? Vintage postcards of the Soviet cinema of the 1920s are rare. But in 1927, a new postcard series was introduced by Goznak in Moscow, which presented both pictures of Russian actors and of the stars of the silent European cinema and Hollywood.

Asta Nielsen
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series, no. 2, no. A-1725, 1927. The card was issued in an edition of 15,000 copies.

Danish silent film actress Asta Nielsen (1881-1972), was one of the most popular leading ladies of the 1910s and one of the first international film stars. Of her 74 films between 1910 and 1932, seventy were made in Germany where she was known simply as 'Die Asta'. Noted for her large dark eyes, mask-like face, and boyish figure, Nielsen most often portrayed strong-willed passionate women trapped by tragic consequences.

Vera Malinowskaja
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series no. 4, no. A-2400, 1927. Published in an edition of 25,000 cards.

Vera Malinovskaya (1900-1988), also written as Malinovskaja or Malinovskaia, played in several Russian films of the 1920s and also in a few films in Germany and Austria. From 1925 on, she had leading roles in films by the Mezhrabpom film company, often playing innocent girls. In 1925 she played Dunia opposite Ivan Moskvin in Kollezhskiy registrator/The Station Master (Ivan Moskvin, Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky, 1925), scripted by Fyodor Otsep (Fedor Ozep), after a novel by Alexander Pushkin.

Paul Richter in Pietro der Kosar (1925)
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow. Paul Richter in Pietro der Korsar/Peter the Pirate (Arthur Robison, 1925).

Austrian actor Paul Richter (1895-1961) starred in several silent films directed by Joe May and Fritz Lang. He became an idol of the 1920s with the lushly produced Ufa production Die Nibelungen (Fritz Lang, 1924).

Yuliya Solntseva
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, no. 2, 1927.

Yuliya Solntseva (1901–1989) was a Soviet film director and actress who starred as the Queen of Mars in the silent Sci-Fi classic Aelita (Yakov Protazanov, 1924) and as a cigarette girl in the romantic comedy Papirosnitsa ot Mosselproma/The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom (Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky, 1924). Solntseva directed 14 films between 1939 and 1979. She was married to director Aleksandr Dovzhenko and collaborated with him on his later films, including Michurin (1949), for which she was awarded a Stalin Prize. For Povest plamennykh let/The Chronicle of Flaming Years (1961), she won the Best Director award at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival. She was named a People's Artist of the USSR when she turned 80.

Paul Wegener
Russian postcard, no. 4, 1927.

German actor, writer, and film director Paul Wegener (1874-1948) is one of the true fathers of the horror and fantasy genre, particularly remembered for his three silent films centred around the Jewish legend of the Golem. Wegener was one of the pioneers of German cinema who realised the potential of the new medium and used the possibilities of cinematic trick photography as a method for presenting fantastic tales in a serious matter.

Buster Keaton
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, no. 1725, 1927.

Stone-faced Buster Keaton (1895-1966) was one of the three greatest comedians of Silent Hollywood. His most enduring features include Our Hospitality (1923), The Navigator (1924), Sherlock Jr. (1924), College (1927), and The General (1927).

Mary Pickford
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, no. A-11967, 1928. The card was issued in an edition of 25,000 copies.

Mary Pickford (1892-1979) was a legendary silent film actress and was known as 'America’s sweetheart'. She married Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. in 1920, becoming one of Hollywood’s earliest super couples. Fans adored the pairing, and the couple was mobbed at every port on their whirlwind European honeymoon. She scored box-office hits with Polyanna (1920), Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921), and Tess of the Storm Country (1922). She was a founder of United Artists and helped to establish the Academy.

The ideological and artistic needs of the proletariat


In 1924, filmmakers Sergei Eisenstein and Lev Kuleshov created the first association of Soviet filmmakers, the Association of Revolutionary Cinematography (ARK), to “meet the ideological and artistic needs of the proletariat”. Although state-controlled, the organisation was characterised by a pluralism of political and artistic views until the late 1920s.

One of the most iconic developments in film during this period that is still used in films today was editing and montage to create meaning. This style of filmmaking came to be known as 'the Kuleshov effect' and was employed to conserve film stock due to shortages during that period.

Innovation in Russian filmmaking was expressed particularly in the work of Eisenstein such as his films Bronenosets Potyomkin/Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Oktyabr': Desyat' dney kotorye potryasli mir/October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928). 

Also noteworthy was Vsevolod Pudovkin's adaptation of Maxim Gorky's Mat/Mother to the screen in 1926. Pudovkin developed themes of revolutionary history in the film Konets Sankt-Peterburga/The End of St. Petersburg (1927).

Other noteworthy silent films were films dealing with contemporary life such as Boris Barnet's Dom na Trubnoy/The House on Trubnaya (1928). The films of Yakov Protazanov were devoted to the revolutionary struggle and the shaping of a new way of life, such as Don Diego i Pelageya/Don Diego and Pelagia (1928). 

And finally, the Ukrainian director Aleksandr Dovzhenko was noteworthy for the historical-revolutionary epic Arsenal (1929) and the poetic film Zemlya/Earth (1930). 


Ivan Mozzhukhin in Kean (1924)
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series no. 5, no. A 4711, 1928. The card was issued in an edition of 25,000 copies. The price was 10 Kop. Photo: Ivan Mozzhukhin in Kean/Edmund Kean: Prince Among Lovers (Alexandre Volkoff, 1924).

Russian actor Ivan Mozzhukhin (1889-1939) was a legendary star of the European silent film. He escaped from execution by the Soviet Red Army and made a stellar career in Europe, but he suffered in Hollywood. He first starred in about thirty silent Russian films made by Pyotr Chardynin, Aleksandr Khanzhonkov, and Yevgeni Bauer. From 1915 to 1919 he worked in about 40 films by directors Yakov Protazanov and Viktor Tourjansky under the legendary Russian producer Joseph N. Ermolieff. After the Revolution, in 1920, he left Russia together with his wife Nathalie Lissenko and his partners from Ermolieff. They emigrated together to France and started in Paris a Russian-French film company. He starred in hits like the innovative murder mystery La maison du mystère/The Mysterious House (1923), Kean/Edmund Kean: Prince Among Lovers (1924), and the lavish adventure spectacle Michel Strogoff/Michael Strogoff (1926) based on the Jules Verne novel. Best remembered is the humourous and visually splendid epic Casanova/The Loves of Casanova (1927).

Conrad Veidt
Russian postcard, no. 6, 1928.

Conrad Veidt (1893–1943) was the most highly strung and romantically handsome of the German expressionist actors. From 1916 until his death, he appeared in well over 100 films, including such classics as Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari/Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) and Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942).

Anatoli Ktorov
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series no. 9, no. A-15639, 1928. The card was issued in an edition of 10,000 copies. The price was 10 Kop.

Anatoli Ktorov (1898-1980) was a brilliant Soviet and Russian film and stage actor who was stuttering in real life but was perfectly eloquent in acting roles. He had a career spanning from silent films Yakov Protazanov to the Oscar-winning epic Voyna i mir/War and Peace (1965-1967). He became a People's Artist of the USSR in 1963.

Sergei Minin
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series no. 8, no. A-16279, 1928. The card was issued in an edition of 30,000 copies. The price was 10 Kop.

Russian actor Sergei Minin (1901-1937) was a star of the Soviet cinema of the 1920s. He worked with such famous directors as Abram Room and Ilya Trauberg.

Vladimir Gajdarov
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series no. 5, no. A-47112, 1928. The card was issued in an edition of 25,000 copies. The price was 10 Kop.

Ukrainian actor Vladimir Gajdarov (1893-1976) (aka Wladimir Gaidarow and Vladimir Gaidaroff) was a popular star in the European silent cinema. He began his film career in Russia before the October Revolution. Later he became a popular star in the German and French silent cinema. The sound film made him return to his home country, but in the Soviet Union, he had a hard time getting work.

Bernhard Goetzke
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow, series no. 14, no. A 29871, 1929. The card was issued in an edition of 15,000 copies. The price was 10 Kop.

German film actor Bernhard Goetzke (1884-1964) was one of the impressive stars of the silent films by Fritz Lang. He appeared in 130 films between 1917 and 1961.

Vera Malinovskaya
Russian postcard by Goziak, Moscow.

Vera Malinovskaya (1900-1988), also written as Malinovskaja/Malinovskaia, played in several Russian films of the 1920s and a few in Germany and Austria.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

18 May 2022

A Home at the End of the World (2004)

A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004) is a lyrical American drama from a screenplay by Michael Cunningham, based on Cunningham's 1990 novel of the same name. It stars Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Dallas Roberts, and Sissy Spacek.

Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (2004)
Italian postcard by Media Film, Milano. Photo: Media Film / Medusa. Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004).

Dallas Roberts and Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (2004)
Italian postcard by Media Film, Milano. Photo: Media Film / Medusa. Dallas Roberts and Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004).

A journey of trials, triumphs, loves, and losses


A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004) is based on a novel by Michael Cunningham, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Hours'. The film chronicles a dozen years in the lives of two best friends who couldn't be more different.

We follow them from suburban Cleveland in the 1960s to New York City in the 1980s. Bobby Morrow's (Colin Farrell) life has been tinged with tragedy since he was a young boy, losing first his beloved older brother to a freak accident, then his mother to illness, and finally his father.

As a rebellious teenager, he meets the conservative and gawky Jonathan Glover (Dallas Roberts) in high school, and he becomes a regular visitor to the Glover home, where he introduces his friend and his mother Alice (Sissy Spacek) to marijuana and the music of Laura Nyro. Jonathan, who is slowly coming out as a homosexual, initiates Bobby into adolescent mutual masturbation during their frequent sleepovers.

When Alice catches them both masturbating in a car, Jonathan, embarrassed, tells Bobby he is going to leave as soon as he finishes high school. Alice teaches Bobby how to bake, unintentionally setting him on a career path that eventually takes him to New York City, where Jonathan is sharing a colorful East Village apartment with bohemian Clare (Robin Wright).

Bobby moves in, and the three create their own household. A Home at the End of the World charts a journey of trials, triumphs, loves, and losses. The question is: can they navigate the unusual triangle they've created and hold their friendship together?

Robin Wright Penn and Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (2004)
Italian postcard by Media Film, Milano. Photo: Media Film / Medusa. Robin Wright and Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004).

Robin Wright and Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (2004)
Italian postcard by Media Film, Milano. Photo: Media Film / Medusa. Robin Wright and Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004).

Farrell's Bobby is suddenly an asexual puppy dog


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "The movie exists outside our expectations for such stories. Nothing about it is conventional. The three-member household is puzzling not only to us but to its members. We expect conflict, resolution, an ending happy or sad, but what we get is mostly life, muddling through ... Colin Farrell is astonishing in the movie, not least because the character is such a departure from everything he has done before."

At AllMovie, Derek Armstrong is much more negative: "The title A Home at the End of the World gives off both an optimistic and a pessimistic vibe, simultaneously, which is appropriate for a film that can't figure out what its tone should be. For example, the plot follows the protagonist (Colin Farrell's Bobby) through the deaths of a half-dozen important family members and friends, yet Duncan Sheik's dopey score is better suited to an annoyingly whimsical romantic comedy.

That dopiness is, however, well suited to Farrell's performance. Despite the succession of traumas his character endures, his attitude rarely changes from that of a pseudo-hippie naïf. It's hard to tell whether that's a reflection on director Michael Mayer's vision for the character, or Farrell's limitations as an actor, but it rings terribly false."

Finally, Wes Connors at IMDb: "indeed, it is a portrait of an unconventional family unit, but that should have remained secondary. At heart, this is a love (the kind including a sexual attraction) story between the Bobby and Jonathan characters, possibly deemphasized to make it more palatable. The focus unravels, especially after Mr. Farrell's adult Bobby takes over the action.

The film draws its fault line by losing touch with the central relationship, and Farrell's characterization goes off course. Freed-from-the-wig Colin Farrell and Dallas Roberts could have recorded a hit version of "Look Out, Cleveland" with The Band backing... The casting is excellent, with Erik Smith and Harris Allan especially winning as the teenage Bobby and Jonathan; they blend perfectly with the grown-up Farrell and Mr. Roberts.

Note that criticisms of Farrell in the lead role are of characterization, not acting. Smith's Bobby was played as a self-assured and sexually adventurous young man, but Farrell's Bobby is suddenly an asexual puppy dog; something is missing."

Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (2004)
Italian postcard by Media Film, Milano. Photo: Media Film / Medusa. Colin Farrell in A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004).

Colin Farrell and Dallas Roberts in A Home at the End of the World (2004)
Italian postcard by Media Film, Milano. Photo: Media Film / Medusa. Colin Farrell and Dallas Roberts in A Home at the End of the World (Michael Mayer, 2004).

Sources: Roger Ebert (Roger Ebert.com), Derek Armstrong (AllMovie), Wes Connors (IMDb),   Wikipedia, and IMDb.