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28 June 2014

Maria Jacobini


At Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna, there is a special presentation of the Italian silent film Addio giovinezza/Good-bye youth (Augusto Genina, 1918). A copy of this film was found in Japan. Star of Addio giovinezza is Maria Jacobini (1892-1944). According to the late film historian Vittorio Martinelli, she was an island of serenity among the Italian divas. Jacobini was the personification of goodness, of simple love. Her weapon was her sweet and gracious smile. However, in some Italian, and later also in German films, she could as well play the vivacious lady, the femme fatale, the comedienne, the hysterical victim, or the suffering mother or wife.

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by Ed. Vettori, Bologna, no. 346. Sent by mail in 1926. Maria Jacobini in Onestà del Peccato/The Wife He Neglected (Augusto Genina, 1918).

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by Milano, Uff. Rev. Stampa, no. 891. Portrait of the actress Maria Jacobini by Tito Corbella.

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by Ed. Romeo Biagi, Bologna, no. 649.

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by Dist. Ed. SARPIC, Bucarest, Romania, no. 330.

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by Ed. Bettini, Roma, no. 145

Maria Jacobini
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3953/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Terra-Film.

Seductive Man-eater


Maria Jacobini was born in Rome, Italy, 1892. She was the sister of actress Diomira Jacobini. Their older sister Bianca had also started out as an actress, but had interrupted her career after four films.

Maria studied at the Accademia di Arte Drammatica di S. Cecilia, where she got lessons from Virginia Marini and Eduardo Boutet. She made her stage debut at the company of Cesare Dondini Jr., where she mainly played secondary parts.

She was noticed by Ugo Falena, artistic director of the film company Film d'Arte Italiana. He offered her to work in the silent cinema.

Her first short films were Lucrezia Borgia/Lucretia Borgia (Ugo Falena, 1910) featuring diva Francesca Bertini,and Beatrice Cenci (Ugo Falena, 1910), but her first important role was in Cesare Borgia (Gerolamo Lo Savio, 1912) again starring Bertini.

In 1912, Maria started to work at the Savoia company of Turin, as a seductive man-eater in short films like Pantera/Panther (1912), La zingara/The gypsy (Sandro Camasio, 1912), and L'onta nascosta/The hidden shame (1912).

From 1913 on, she played her more dramatic roles as the lead in Giovanna d'Arco/Joan of Arc (Ubaldo Maria del Colle, 1913) and Ananke (Nino Oxilia, 1915) with Leda Gys and her sister Diomira Jacobini.

Jacobini worked for pioneering film studios like Pasquali and Celio. Maria gave good performances in the melancholic Come le foglie/Like the Leaves (Gennaro Righelli, 1916) based on Giuseppe Giacosa's stage play, and in the touching Addio Giovinezza/Good-bye Youth (Augusto Genina, 1918).

She made a series of films with director Gennaro Righelli such as Il viaggio/The journey (1921), based on a novel by Luigi Pirandello, and Cainà - la figlia dell'isola/Cainà - the daughter of the island (1923), shot in Sardinia.

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by Ed. A. Traldi, Milano, no. 713.

Come le foglie
Italian postcard. Photo: Tiber Film. Publicity still for Come le foglie/Like the Leaves (Gennaro Righelli, 1917), based on the stage play by Giuseppe Giacosa. Father Giovanni (Ignazio Lupi) unites his daughter Nennele (Maria Jacobini) with his cousin Massimo (Guido Guiducci). Translation caption: Nennele: Shall I call him? Massimo! Content of the film: After a life of spendthrifts, the Rosati family is ruined. Father Giovanni (Ignazio Lupi) accepts work from his cousin Massimo (Guido Guiducci). Hitherto neglected as too serious and workaholic, Massimo becomes the head of the family and takes care of the son and daughter of Giovanni, Tommy (Alberto Collo) and Nennele (Jacobini), and their stepmother Giulia (Floriana). Tommy and Giulia remain weak spirits, but after an attempted suicide, Nennele realises Massimo's force and unites with him.

Maria Jacobini and Alberto Collo in Come le foglie (1917)
Italian postcard. Photo: Tiber Film, Roma. Publicity still for Come le foglie/Like the Leaves (Gennaro Righelli, 1917). Maria Jacobini (Nennele) and Alberto Collo (Tommy). Translation caption: Nennele: You don't know what you're saying! Farewell, Tommy, farewell, poor Tommy!

Come le foglie
Italian postcard. Photo: Tiber Film, Roma. Publicity still for Come le foglie/Like the Leaves (Gennaro Righelli, 1917). Left Maria Jacobini. The man in the middle could be Guido Guiducci. Translation caption : The portrait slipped from the package and fell to the ground.
Maria Jacobini and Ignazio Lupi in Come le foglie
Italian postcard. Photo: Tiber Film, Roma. Publicity still of Maria Jacobini and Ignazio Lupi in the Italian silent film Come le foglie/Like the leaves (Gennaro Righelli, 1917), based on the stage play by Giuseppe Giacosa. The caption translates: 'Giovanni: And tomorrow I would have been out in the world, shouting like a madman, searching for my little daughter'.

Maria Jacobini
Dutch postcard by E & B, no. 518. Photo: HAP Film, Den Haag / Bens Film.

Maria Jacobini in La bocca chiusa
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 348. Maria Jacobini in the silent film La bocca chiusa (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1925).

Berlin


After the First World War, the Italian film industry was in a deep crisis, and director Gennaro Righelli and his star Maria Jacobini decided to move to Germany.

In Berlin, the new centre of the European film industry, Jacobini and Righelli were enlisted by producer Jakob Karoll and they founded a separate company called Maria Jacobini GmbH.

Jacobini first starred in Bohème - Künstlerliebe/Bohème - artists love (Gennaro Righelli, 1923), playing the tormented and suffering Mimi. Her film partner was Wilhelm Dieterle, who would later become known as Hollywood director William Dieterle.

She often performed in Righelli's German films but also in films by other directors. She was directed by Jaap Speyer in Bigamie/Bigamy (1927), Robert Dinesen in Ariadne im Hoppegarten (1928) with Alfred Abel, Richard Oswald in Villa Falconieri (1928) opposite Hans Stüwe, and by Fedor Ozep in the German-Russian coproduction Der lebende Leichnam/Zhivoy trup/The Living Corpse (1929), based on the play by Leo Tolstoy.

These productions were shot all over Europe, and Jacobini even filmed in Africa for Die Frauengasse von Algier/The Street of Women of Algiers (Wolfgang Hoffmann-Harnisch, 1927) with Camilla Horn.

Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti in Addio giovinezza
Italian postcard, no. 430. Photo: Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti in the silent film Addio giovinezza/Good-bye youth (Augusto Genina, 1918), an adaptation of the play by Sandro Camasio and Nino Oxilia.

Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti in Addio giovinezza
Italian postcard, no. 431. Photo: Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti in the silent film Addio giovinezza/Good-bye youth (Augusto Genina, 1918).

Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli in La preda (1921)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: publicity still for La preda/The prey (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1921) with Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli

Maria Jacobini and Tullio Carminati
Italian postcard by Ed. Vettori, Bologna. Photo: probably a publicity still for L'articolo IV (Gennaro Righelli, 1918) in which Jacobini and Tullio Carminati were the leading actors. The film is about duchess Jenny who offers her hand to the only man who didn't court her, the count d'Hauteville. She has a condition, though: for a long time the two must first live together as mere friends and if they don't get along they will divorce. Will both keep this promise? The card suggests otherwise...

Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli in La casa di vetro (1920)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 13. Photo: publicity still for La casa di vetro/The glass house (Gennaro Righelli, 1920) with Jacobini and Amleto Novelli.

Maria Jacobini and Amleto Novelli in La casa di vetro
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: publicity still for La casa di vetro/The glass house (Gennaro Righelli, 1920) with Jacobini and Amleto Novelli.

Maria Jacobini
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 92. Photo: publicity still for Il richiamo/The Call (Gennaro Righelli, 1921).

Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti in Il richiamo
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 67. Publicity still of Maria Jacobini and Lido Manetti in Il richiamo/The Call (Gennaro Righelli, 1921). A print of this film is in the Komiya Collection at the National Film Center in Tokyo. A restored version was shown at the last edition of the festival Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna (June/July 2012).

Maria Jacobini in La via del peccato
Italian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La via del peccato (Amleto Palermi, 1925).

Maria Jacobini in La bocca chiusa
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Maria Jacobini in La bocca chiusa (Guglielmo Zorzi, 1925) with Lido Manetti .

Marginal Roles


In the second half of the 1920s, Maria Jacobini performed also in a few Italian films such as La bocca chiusa/Shut up(Guglielmo Zorzi, 1925) opposite Lido Manetti a.k.a. Arnold Kent and Carmen Boni, Beatrice Cenci (Baldassarre Negroni, 1926), and Il carnevale di Venezia/The carnival of Venice (Mario Almirante, 1928).

In France she did Maman Colibri/Mother Hummingbird (Julien Duvivier, 1929) with Franz Lederer. It was her final silent film.

With the coming of the sound cinema, Jacobini's roles became marginal, though she continued to play in films until her death.

In 1937 she became a teacher in acting at the new Roman film academy Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, where she gave lessons to new stars and actresses such as Alida Valli and Clara Calamai.

Her final film was La donna della montagna/The Mountain Woman (Renato Castellani, 1943) with Marina Berti.
Maria Jacobini died a year later, in 1944 in Rome. She was 52.

Maria Jacobini
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 569/2, 1919-1924. Photo: Atelier Riess, Berlin.

Maria Jacobini
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 717. Photo: Sascha Film.

Maria Jacobini
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5476. Photo: Derussa-Film / Allianz-Film.

Maria Jacobini
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 3635/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Bieber, Berlin.

Maria Jacobini
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3635/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier Bieber, Berlin.

Maria Jacobini
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3955/2, 1928-1929. Photo: Terra-Film.

Maria Jacobini
German postcard by Ross Verlag, Berlin, no. 569/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Riess, Berlin.

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Le dive del silenzio), Caterina Cerra (Treccani.it) (Italian), Wikipedia (English and Italian) and IMDb.

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