10 April 2020

Mariella Lotti

Blonde Italian film actress Mariella Lotti (1921–2006) played leading ladies in a number of Fascist-era and post-war films. The refined beauty quickly became one of the most popular Italian divas of the 1940s.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard, no. 13.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by A. Terzoli, Roma, no. 420. Photo: Ghergo.

Mariella Lotti and Massimo Serato in L'Ispettore Vargas (1940)
Italian postcard by Alterocca, Terni, no. 6616. Photo: Ferri. Mariella Lotti and Massimo Serato in L'Ispettore Vargas/Inspector Vargas (Gianni Franciolini, Félix Aguilera, 1940).

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by Alterocca, Terni, no. 6619. Photo: Ferri / Generalcine. Publicity still for Il fiore sotto gli occhi/The flower under the eyes (Guido Brignone, 1944).

Mariella Lotti in La donna che inventò l'amore (1952)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 570. Photo: Ghergo, Rome / Generalcine Film. Mariella Lotti in La donna che inventò l'amore/The Woman Who Invented Love (Ferruccio Cerio, 1952).

The Ten Commandments

Mariella Lotti was born Maria Camilla Pianotti in 1919 in Busto Arsizio, Lombardy, Italy (on 17 November 1919 according to her baptism certificate or on 18 November 1919 according to her birth certificate) Her sister Carola Lotti later also would be an actress.

In 1939, Mariella made her film debut with a small part in the comedy I figli del marchese Lucera/The sons of the Marquis Lucera (Amleto Palermi, 1939) with Armando Falconi. The following year, she played an important part in the adventure film La figlia del corsaro verde/The Daughter of the Green Pirate (Enrico Guazzoni, 1940), starring Doris Duranti, Fosco Giachetti and Camillo Pilotto.

She also played a supporting part in Il signore della tavern/The tavern ladies (Amleto Palermi, 1940). That year she also appeared in the dramas Kean (Guido Brignone, 1940) with Rossano Brazzi, and Il ponte dei sospiri/The Bridge of Sighs (Mario Bonnard, 1940) with Paola Barbara.

Two years later Lotti appeared in the drama Fari nella nebbia/Headlights in the Fog (Gianni Franciolini, 1942) starring Fosco Giachetti, Luisa Ferida and Antonio Centa. The film follows the lives of a group of truck drivers. It is considered to be part of the development of Neorealism, which emerged around this time.

Lotti then played the title role in the historical adventure film La Gorgona/The Gorgon (Guido Brignone, 1942) about the young daughter of a heroically killed nobleman in 11th Century Pisa who - as the figurehead virgin - will maintain a lantern to celebrate the men's victorious return after driving out the Saracens who are infesting the Mediterranean.

Other films of the fascist era include Quelli della montagna/Those of the Mountain (Aldo Vergano, 1943) with Amedeo Nazzari, the Opera film Silenzio, si gira!/Silence, film recording! (Carlo Campogalliani, 1943) starring Beniamino Gigli, and the war drama Squadriglia bianca (Ion Sava, 1944) with Claudio Gora.

Lotti was one of the many actors employed on the anthology film I dieci comandamenti/The Ten Commandments (Giorgio Walter Chili, 1946), made following the overthrow of Benito Mussolini. The film was shot in Rome in 1944-1945 during the Republic of Salò (when the country occupied by the Germans). At that time, all cinematic activity was transferred to Venice but many actors and technicians refused to go. This film was specifically produced to provide work for all those who decided to stay in Rome. All personnel for the film was able to obtain a work permit from the Vatican as the film, which was based on the classic Bible story, was produced by PROFIR, a Catholic production house closely linked with the catholic church. The film is now considered lost.

Mariella Lotti in La Gorgona (1942)
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Casa Editr. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze), no. 4365. Photo: Ghergo / Florentia Film Artisti Associati. Mariella Lotti in La Gorgona/The Gorgon (Guido Brignone, 1942).

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit, no. 43290. Photo: I.C.I. / Vaselli. Publicity still for Fari nella nebbia/Headlights in the fog (Gianni Franciolini, 1942).

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by A. Scarmiglia Ed., Roma (ASER), no. 122. Photo: Fauno Film / Vaselli. Publicity still for Fari nella nebbia/Headlights in the fog (Gianni Franciolini, 1941).

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by ASER, no. 20. Sent by mail in 1942.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by ENIC.

Pink Neorealism

In 1946, Mariella Lotti played a nun in the Neorealist war film Un giorno nella vita/A Day in Life (Alessandro Blasetti, 1946), about a group of partisans seeking refuge in a cloistered convent. The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.

She also played the female lead opposite Otello Toso and Amedeo Nazzari in the drama Malacarne/For the Love of Mariastella (1946), written and directed by Pino Mercanti. Based on a story of the Sicilian writer Giuseppe Zucca, it was mainly shot in the tonnara (tuna fisher village) of Castellammare del Golfo, with some scenes shot in the tonnaras of Scopello and of San Vito Lo Capo. It is considered as a progenitor of Pink Neorealism, the lighter genre which followed Neorealism when Italy’s conditions approved.

Lotti then co-starred with Fosco Giachetti and Andrea Checchi in the drama I fratelli Karamazoff/The Brothers Karamazov (Giacomo Gentilomo, 1947), based on the novel with the same title by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It won two Nastro d'Argento Awards, for best screenplay and for the best score. She also starred in the historical drama Guarany (Riccardo Freda, 1948) with Antonio Vilar and Gianna Maria Canale, the Italian/American Swashbuckler I pirati di Capri/The Pirates of Capri (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1949) starring Louis Hayward, and opposite Jean Gabin in the drama È più facile che un cammello.../His Last Twelve Hours (Luigi Zampa, 1951).

In the following years, her parts became smaller. She played a supporting part in the drama Processo alla città/The City Stands Trial (Luigi Zampa, 1952) with Amedeo Nazzari. The film is based on a revisiting of the Cuocolo murders and the struggle for control of Naples by the Camorra in the early 1900s. It is considered to be director Luigi Zampa's most accomplished film and was entered into the 3rd Berlin International Film Festival.

Her final film was the Spanish-Italian drama Carmen proibita/Siempre Carmen (Giuseppe Maria Scotese, 1953) featuring Ana Esmeralda. She also acted in the theatre and worked on two stage productions with Luchino Visconti. Mariella Lotti was married to the industrialist Alfredo Zanardo. Earlier she had a well-publicised affair with Michael, Prince of Romania.

Mariella Lotti passed away in 2004 in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France. In 2019, her hometown has celebrated the 100th anniversary of her birth and two of her grandchildren attended the event.

Mariela Lotti
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, 1941. Photo: Venturini.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by Mimosa.

Amedeo Nazzari and Mariella Lotti in Quelli della montagna (1943)
Romanian postcard. Amedeo Nazzari and Mariella Lotti in Quelli della montagna/Those of the Mountain (Aldo Vergano, 1943), supervised by Alessandro Blasetti.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Ballerini & Fratini Editori, Firenze), no. 4357. Photo: Vaselli / E.N.I.C.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Ballerini & Fratini Editori, Firenze), no. 4468. Photo: Bragalia / Lux Film.

Mariella Lotti
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano / Ediz. Garami, no. 143.

Sources: Marlene Pilaete (La Collectionneuse - French), Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.

09 April 2020

Colonna Romano

French stage actress (Gabrielle) Colonna Romano (1883-1981) was a pupil of Sarah Bernhardt and a famous tragedienne of the Comédie-Française from 1913 till 1936. She also appeared in Film d'Art shorts and other early silent films. Her love life was tempestuous and legendary.

Colonna Romano
French postcard by KF Editeurs d'art Paris, series 2039. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Colonna Romano in Electre
French postcard. Colonna Romano in the play 'Electre' (Electra) by Euripides.

Gabrielle Colonna-Romano
French postcard in the Nos artistes dans leur loge series, no. 237. Photo: Comoedia.

A favourite model of Renoir

Gabrielle Colonna-Romano aka Colonna or Colonna Romano was born Gabrielle Dreyfuss in Paris in 1883. Wikipedia writes that she used Colonna Romano as a film actress, but on most of the cards in this post (including the one above for a stage role and others from the period before her film career), she was called 'Colonna Romano'.

She was a pupil and devotee of Sarah Bernhardt. In 1913, Colonna Romano became a member of the Comédie-Française and was a sociétaire between 1926 and 1936, when she left the Comédie-Française.

Colonna Romano was famous for her roles as tragediénne, such as in the Euripides play 'Electre' (Electra), and she also gave numerous poetry readings, notably by the Symbolist poet Saint-Pol-Roux.

She was also a favourite model of the Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir and posed for such paintings as 'Jeune femme à la rose' (1913). She had an affair with his son Pierre Renoir until he left her for the actress Vera Sergine.

Colonna-Romano also acted in silent films. Between 1908 and 1913 she appeared in Film d'Art shorts such as Hamlet (Henri Desfontaines, 1908), in which she played Queen Gertrude.

She also acted in modern drama and action films, like Hop-Frog (Henri Desfontaines, 1910), L'Honneur/Legion of Honor (Albert Capellani, 1910) with her then-husband George Grand, Le Scarabée d'or/The Gold-Bug (Henri Desfontaines, 1910), and Antar (N.N., 1912).

IMDb and Wikipedia state that her film L'Honneur dates from 1913 and was made by Henri Pouctal. The mostly more reliable Seydoux-Pathé site gives another name and date, which we use above.

Colonna Romano
French postcard by. S.I.P., no. 97/20.

Colonna Romano, Mardi
French postcard by S.I.P., no. 908/6. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris. Caption: Mardi (Tuesday).

Colonna Romano
French postcard by FA, no. 275. Photo: Félix. Caption: Colonna Romano, Comédie Française.

Nurse in WWI and resistance fighter in WWII

During the First World War, Colonna Romano was a nurse, according to IMDb.

In England, she met and became friends with Marie Bell who, on her advice, decided to go to the Conservatory.

Romano was married to actor Georges Grand, who died in 1921 of a heart attack at the age of 56. In 1916, while married, she had a relationship with the very young, future filmmaker René Clair, but his best friend Jacques Rigaut was jealous and Romano very free in her relationships... The deluded Clair left for the Red-Cross in 1917.

She was the sixth and final wife of the millionaire press-magnate Alfred Edwards, and after his death, she married in 1939 the actor Pierre Alcover, like her first husband a colleague from the Comédie-Française. IMDb writes that Colonna Romano was a resistance fighter in WWII.

In 1981, Gabrielle Colonna Romano died in Paris at the age of 93. She and Alcover rest in the old cemetery of Rueil-Malmaison. Their granddaughter Cathérine is an actress too. Colonna Romano gave her name to the Colonna-Romano Prize for Classical Tragedy at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art in Paris.

Colonna Romano can be seen acting in the documentary Un soir à la Comédie-Française/An Evening at the Comédie-Française (Léonce Perret, 1935).

Colonna Romano
French postcard, no. 2247. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Colonna Romano
French postcard, no. 261. Photo: ND Phot. Caption: Colonna Romano (Théâtre Antoine).

Colonna Romano, reutlinger
French postcard. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris, c. 1900-1910.

Sources: Fondation Jerome Seydoux Pathe, Wikipedia (French and English), and IMDb.

08 April 2020

Figaro (1929)

Famous dancer Ernst (Edmond) Van Duren, Arlette Marchal, Marie Bell, and the Romanian actor Genica Missirio played the lead roles in late silent French film Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929), It is an adaptation of the 1778 Pierre Beaumarchais play 'The Marriage of Figaro'. Location shooting was done at the Château de Rochefort-sur-Yvelines.

Genica Missirio in Figaro (1929)
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 99. Photo: Roger Forster. Genica Missirio in Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929).

Ernst/ Edmond Van Duren in Figaro (1929)
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 301. Photo: Roger Forster. Ernst Van Duren as Figaro in Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929).

Genica Missirio, Marie Bell, and Ernst (Edmond) Van Duren in Figaro (1929)
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 304. Photo: Roger Forster. Genica Missirio, Marie Bell, and Ernst Van Duren (up in the tree) in Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929).

Three people were crushed to death in the opening-night crowd

Ernst / Ernest/ Edmond Van Duren was a famous dancer, who - together with his dance partner Edmonde Guy - was popular all over Europe and the US in the 1920s. He acted in a handful films, including leads in Manege (Max Reichmann, 1928) and Princesse Mandane (Germaine Dulac, 1928). In 1930 he committed suicide.

Van Duren's last film was Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929). Wikipedia and  IMDb list Tony Lekain as co-director of Figaro, but according to Ciné-Ressources Lekain was only the set designer.

Van Duren, listed as Edmond Van Duren, had the lead as the title character, opposite Arlette Marchal as Rosine, Marie Bell as Suzanne, Génica Missirio as Bogaerts, and Tony D'Algy as the Count of Almaviva. Other actors were a.o. José Davert and Jean Weber. The cinematography was by Albert Duverger, costumes by Georges Benda.

Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929) is an adaptation of the Pierre Beaumarchais play 'La Folle Journée, ou Le Mariage de Figaro' (The Marriage of Figaro), with material also used from its prequel and sequel. This play is the second in the Figaro trilogy, preceded by 'The Barber of Seville' and followed by 'The Guilty Mother'. 'The Marriage of Figaro' opened to enormous success; it was said to have grossed 100,000 francs in the first twenty showings. The theatre was so packed that three people were reportedly crushed to death in the opening-night crowd. Eight years later, the play formed the basis for an opera with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte and music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, also called 'The Marriage of Figaro' (1786).

The Barber of Seville: The Spanish count Almaviva has fallen in love at first sight with the girl Rosine. To ensure that she really loves him and not just his money, the Count disguises himself as a poor college student and attempts to woo her. His plans are foiled by Rosine's guardian, Doctor Bartholo, who keeps her locked up in his house and intends to marry her himself. The Count's luck changes, however, after a chance reunion with an ex-servant of his, Figaro, who is currently working as a barber and therefore has access to the Doctor's home. After being promised money, and afraid the Count will seek revenge on him if he refuses, Figaro devises a variety of ways for the Count and Rosine to meet and talk. The story culminates in the marriage of the Count and Rosine.

The Marriage of Figaro: Figaro's marriage resumed three years after the end of The Barber of Seville when Figaro was promised to become Susanna's husband; both characters are part of the Count's staff in his home. In the three years since Figaro has helped to forge the marriage of the Count and Rosina, the Count has already been bored with his marriage but has noticed Susanna's beauty. The Count tries to assert the Ius primae noctis (the right of the first night), before Figaro's honeymoon, but Figaro is alert. They dress the Countess' page Chérubin as Susanna, but then the Count knocks on the door. Quickly the page escapes through the window, Susanne substitutes for him and the Count offers an apology.

The Guilty Mother: Countess and Chérubin spent a night together, but she thought it wrong, so he left for war and got himself killed. While dying he wrote a final letter, which the Countess kept in a secret drawer in a box made by the Irishman Bégearss. The Countess, though, became pregnant with Chérubin's child. The Count has been suspicious all these years that he is not the father of Léon, the Countess's son, and so he has been rapidly trying to spend his fortune to ensure the boy won't inherit any of it, even having gone so far as to renounce his title and move the family to Paris. As he has nevertheless held some doubts, and therefore has never officially disowned the boy or even brought up his suspicions to the Countess. Meanwhile, the Count has an illegitimate child of his own, a daughter named Florestine. Bégearss wants to marry her, and to ensure that she will be the Count's only heir, he begins to stir up trouble over the Countess's secret. Figaro and Suzanne, who are still married, must once again come to the rescue of the Count and Countess; and of their illegitimate children Léon and Florestine, who are secretly in love with each other.

Arlette Marchal and Tony D'Algy in Figaro (1929)
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 305. Photo: Roger Forster. Arlette Marchal and Tony D'Algy in Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929).

Figaro, with Arlette Marchal & E. van Duren & Marie Bell_JRPR; 307. Photo Roger Forster
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 307. Photo: Roger Forster. Arlette Marchal, Ernst van Duren and Marie Bell in Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929). Collection: Manuel Palomino Arjona (Flickr).

DUREN, E. van & BELL, Marie in Figaro_JRPR; 309
French postcard by J.R.P.R., Paris, no. 309. Photo: Roger Forster. Ernst van Duren and Marie Bell in Figaro (Gaston Ravel, 1929). Collection: Manuel Palomino Arjona (Flickr).

Sources: Ciné-Ressources (French), Wikipedia and IMDb.