30 December 2017

Claretta Sabatelli

Little is known about Italian actress Claretta Sabatelli. In 1916 she made her debut in the Italian silent cinema and appeared in several films around 1920. After one part in a sound film, she disappeared in oblivion.

Claretta Sabatelli in Il voto (1921)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 367. Photo: Fotominio / Aprutium Film. Publicity for Il voto (Eugenio Fontana, 1921).

A young scoundrel climbing over fences 


Italian actress Claretta or Clarette Sabatelli made her film debut in L'uomo dall'orecchio mozzato (The Man With the Cut-off Ear, Ubaldo Maria Del Colle, 1916), an adaptation of the novel by Edmond. The plot tells about a man who awakens after 100 years.

It was followed by the comedy Battaglia di reginette (Battle of the Starlets, Domenico Gaido, 1917), Lo scandalo della principessa Giorgio (The Scandal of Princess George, Pier Antonio Gariazzo, 1917) starring Neyse Cheyne (whom critics thought a ravishing beauty but incapable of acting), and La calamita (The Magnet, Giuseppe Pinto, 1919) set and shot in Naples - which Neapolitan critic Tito Alacci thought modest but warm and humane.

The first film in which Sabatelli really had the female lead was the Vay Film production  Il frantoio (The Crusher, Giuseppe Zaccaria, 1919), about a poor washing girl who starts working in an office and falls in love with an engineer. Stock exchange speculations by a trust force him to fire his staff and flee to the US, where he works in a mine. His adversary, head of the enemy trust, has lost his daughter and of course it is the girl, returned washing girl. All ends well, the girl finds her father and her future husband. The title refers to a breaker of rocks, used in mines, similar to the splitting of souls in the plot.

Next at Vay Film, Sabatelli starred in L'ombra della morte (The Shadow of Death, Attilio d'Anversa, 1919), scripted by Per Antonio Gariazzo. The press praised Sabbatelli as a young scoundrel climbing over fences and walking over roofs, but thought the plot old-fashioned.

Sabatelli had the lead as Guendalina in Tutto il mondo è teatro/All the World is a Stage (Pier Antonio Gariazzo, 1919), scripted by Lucio d'Ambra and loosely based on William Shakespeare. The plot is about two marionets who after adventures in the real world decide their wooden existence is better.

After a supporting part in La Sacra Bibbia (The Holy Bible, Pier Antonio Gariazzo, 1920), a costly flop according to the press, and a last film at Vay, the negligible I millepiedi (The Milipedes, Attilio d'Anversa, 1920), Sabatelli then shifted to the Roman company Rinascimento Film.

Claretta Sabatelli in Il voto (1921)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 367. Photo: Fotominio / Aprutium Film. Publicity still of Claretta Sabatelli in Il voto (Eugenio Fontana, 1921).

Claretta Sabatelli in Il voto (1921)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 367. Photo: Fotominio / Aprutium Film. Publicity still for Il voto (Eugenio Fontana, 1921).

Exquisite expressions of deep felt grief and despair


For Rinascimento Film, Claretta Sabatelli first had a supporting part in La naufraga della vita (Life's Shipwrecked, Eugenio Perego, 1920) with Olga and Desdemona Mazza.

Then she played the female lead in Il dramma dell'amore (The Drama of Love, Amleto Palermi, 1920), opposite the monstre sacré of the Italian stage, Giovanni Grasso. While the plot was considered old hat, the press praised the performances of Grasso and Sabatella, who played a poor, seduced young girl.

Aurelio Spada wrote in the Neapolitan magazine Film: "She presents the character with spontaneity and efficacy, assuming exquisite expressions of deep felt grief and despair."

In 1921 Sabatelli acted with the famous vaudeville performer Anna Fougez and Gustavo Serena in Fiore selvaggio (Gustavo Serena, 1921), on a goatkeeper (Fougez) who becomes a grande cocotte in town and eventually returns to her roots.

She then appeared in Il voto (The Vow, Eugenio Fontana, 1921). In the Abruzzi mountains, a fatal woman is not loved by her brutal husband, so she starts an affair with another man, but this is discovered and the lover is killed. Years after, the victim's son returns from Rome to his hometown and he looks so much like his father, that the woman falls in love with him too.

Then one day it is revealed that she is his mother. To recompense, he seeks penitence by going as pilgrim to a sanctuary, where the pilgrims on their knees hit the sins from them. But also the woman comes to redeem her sins. Together they choose death.

The press criticised the script by Ettore Moschino as too artificial. They praised the direction by Eugenio Fontana because of the pictorial qualities of his images. They were also favourable about the performances of Amleto Novelli and Claretta Sabatelli. "She is really becoming an excellent actress", a critic wrote. The film was shot at the Majella in the Abruzzi, and at the Abruzzean coastline. Il voto had its first night in April 1921 at the Corso Cinema Teatro in Rome.

After an interval of some years, Sabatelli tried her luck in comedy in 1924 in Donne, parrucchieri, cani, amori (Women, Hairdressers, Dogs, Loves, Renato Testard, Corradi, 1924) in which the lead Renato Malvasi played an imitation of Larry Semon, known in Italy as Ridolini. The film itself was a spoof of the American film The Hottentot (1922).

Also in 1924 Sabatelli had a supporting part in I volti dell'amore (The Faces of Love, Carmine Gallone, 1924), a star vehicle for Soava Gallone and based on Adrienne Lecouvreur. In 1926 Sabatelli played countess Lilla in Garibaldi e i suoi tempi (Garibaldi and His Times, Silvio Laurenti Rosa, 1926), starring Enrico Benvenuto, and scripted by Umberto Paradisi. In the meantime Sabatelli also performed on stage. In 1925 she mime-danced e.g. at the Teatro degli Independenti.

After a last part in the sound film L'amore si fa così (This Is the Way How to Love, Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1939), Claretta Sabatelli quitted film acting and nothing was heard from her since.

Claretta Sabatelli and Amleto Novelli il Il voto
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Fotominio / Aprutium Film. Publicity still of Claretta Sabatelli and Amleto Novelli in Il voto (Eugenio Fontana, 1921).

Claretta Sabatelli and Amleto Novelli in Il voto (1921)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Fotominio / Aprutium Film. Publicity still of Claretta Sabatelli and Amleto Novelli in Il voto (Eugenio Fontana, 1921).

Source: Sempre in penombra (Italian), Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano - Italian), and IMDb.
Post a Comment