01 April 2012

Alberto Collo

Alberto Collo (1883 - 1955) was an Italian film actor of mostly the silent cinema. In the 1910's and early 1920's he acted opposite the film divas of his times, such as Francesca Bertini, Hesperia, Maria and Diomira Jacobini and Italia Almirante Manzini. He also performed in war propaganda, historical films and strong men films.

Alberto Collo
Italian postcard by Ed. Traldi, Milano, no. 39. Photo: Civirani, Roma. Photographer Carlo Civirani was the father of set photographer, producer and director Osvaldo Civirani.

Alberto Collo and Oreste Bilancia
Italian postcard by Ed. Traldi, Milano, no. 68.

Alberto Collo
Italian postcard by Fotocolore, Torino, no. 8.

Transvestite Parts
Alberto Collo was born in Piobesi Torinese, Italy in 1883. First, he started to act on stage in 1907, but that same year he also began to work for Ambrosio Film, playing comic parts. Two years after, he moved to Itala Film where he played transvestite parts (crossdressing as a woman). Between 1912 and 1924, however, he became one of the protagonists of the Italian silent cinema, performing in over 70 films. First these films were shorts and later on feature-length films, mostly produced by Cines, then Celio Film, a company affiliated with Cines, and finally at the Fert company. He worked with such directors as Baldassarre Negroni, Mario Almirante, Guido Brignone and Augusto Genina, and actors such as Emilio Ghione, Oreste Bilancia, Francesca Bertini and Italia Almirante Manzini.

Maria Jacobini and Alberto Collo in Come le foglie (1917)
Italian postcard by Tiber Film, Roma. Photo: publicity still of Maria Jacobini (Nennele) and Alberto Collo (Tommy) in Come le foglie (1917). Nennele: "You don't know what you're saying! Farewell, Tommy, farewell, poor Tommy!"

Alberto Collo in Oberdan (1915)
Italian postcard. Alberto Collo in Oberdan (1915, Emilio Ghione). Guglielmo Obedan: "I don't fear you, you cops. If only my act could cause Italy to start war with the enemy."

In the early 1910's, Alberto Collo often formed a triangle in shorts directed by Baldassarre Negroni and with Francesca Bertini and Emilio Ghione co-acting, the latter mostly playing the bad guy. In Panne d’auto (1912, Baldassarre Negroni) flirtatious Kitty doesn’t know to choose between engineer Alberto and officer Pietro. Pietro tries to impress Kitty with a daredevil car race but Alberto pretends to have a breakdown with his car, so Kitty joins him for a picnic and he has time to propose. In Idolo infranto (1913, Baldassarre Negroni) he plays a sculptor dumped by his capricious, gold-digging model (Bertini), has gone poor and is almost put on the street. When she returns and pretends to be his statue, he sees her in a mirror laughing at him, so enraged he destroys ‘the statue’. In L’amazzone mascherata (1914, Baldassarre Negroni) Collo is unjustly sentenced because of the loss of secret documents, so his wife (Bertini) comes to the rescue and, disguised as an amazon, she pursues the real culprit, a circus director (Emilio Ghione). Collo had a small part in the well-known Neapolitan drama Assunta Spina (1915), starring Bertini and Gustavo Serena. He had the lead in the propagandistic period piece Oberdan/Guglielmo Oberdan, il martire di Trieste (1915, Emilio Ghione), about a 19th century Italian partisan who tried to kill the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph when the latter visited Trieste, but Oberdan was caught and hanged. Ghione himself played the Austrian governor of Trieste. As Italy was at war with Austria when the film came out, Oberdan was a huge success.

Alberto Collo and Emilio Ghione in Oberdan (1915)
Italian postcard. Alberto Collo (right) and Emilio Ghione (left) in Oberdan (1915). Guglielmo Oberdan: "I admit and I swear to have come to Trieste with the exact scope of killing the infamous head of an infamous state. And now I happily challenge your tortures."

Alberto Collo and Vittorina Moneta in Oberdan (1915)
Italian postcard. Photo: publicity still of Alberto Collo and Vittorina Moneta in Oberdan (1915). Gugliemo Oberdan: "The Fatherland above all other affections. From this wet nurse Rome, queen of the world, the spark will part that will free my Trieste."

By the mid-1910's, Alberto Collo became a regular partner of Bertini’s rival Hesperia, whose films were directed by Negroni, her husband, as in La signora delle camelie (1915, Baldassarre Negroni), Il potere sovrano (1916, Baldassarre Negroni), and La cuccagna (1916, Baldassarre Negroni). But Collo was also paired with Maria Jacobini, as in Come le foglie (1917, Gennaro Righelli), and even more with her sister Diomira Jacobini, as in L’isola della felicità (1921, Luciano Doria) and La storia di Clo-Clo (1923, Luciano Doria). In the early 1920's Collo played in various films opposite Italia Almirante Manzini, a.o. as her jealous ex-lover in La statua di carne (1921, Mario Almirante), a prince in La piccolo parrocchia (1923, Mario Almirante), and as Count Giano in the Sem Benelli adaptation L’arzigogolo (1924, Mario Almirante). He also played in period pieces, such as the title role in the historical drama Il povero fornaretto (1923, Mario Almirante), and in the Maciste-films Maciste e il nipote d’America (1924, Eleuterio Rodolfi) and Maciste nella gabbia dei leoni (1926). At Fert, Collo played with a steady crew that included Oreste Bilancia and Pauline Polaire. When the film crisis hitted the Fert studios as well in the mid-1920's, Collo stopped film acting, and he only sporadically returned between 1926 and 1939. In the post-war era Collo obtained a few film parts between 1951 and 1955 in films like Arrivano i nostri (1951, Mario Mattoli). Alberto Collo passed away in 1955 in Turin, at the age of 71 years. According to IMDb, Alberto Collo played at least in some 128 film titles, but certainly in many more, uncredited, in his early career.

Hesperia and Alberto Collo
Italian postcard. Photo: publicity still with Hesperia and Collo in La cuccagna (1917, Baldessare Negroni). It was an adaptation of Emile Zola's La curée. Hesperia is Renata/Renée, second wife of the cunning and wealthy Saccard, who married young Renata for her money. She though has an affair with Saccard's son Max, played by Collo. In the end money triumphs instead of love, just as in Zola's novel. That's why some Italian critics thought the title La cuccagna (abundance) too cheerful, while La curée means: the loot.

Italia Almirante

Italian postcard by G.B. Salci, Milano. Photo: Publicity still with Italia Almirante and Alberto Collo in L'Arzigogolo (1924, Mario Almirante), adaptation of the play by Sem Benelli.

Sources: Aldo Bernardini/Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

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