15 October 2019

L'arzigogolo (1924)

Today's film special is about the Italian silent film L'arzigogolo/The Court Jester (Mario Almirante, 1924). The successful costume drama starred diva Italia Almirante Manzini, Annibale Betrone and Oreste Bilancia.

Italia Almirante
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 529. Photo: Scoffone. Italia Almirante Manzini
in L'Arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924b
Italia Almirante in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 528. Photo: Scoffone. Publicity still for L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924), with Italia Almirante Manzini.

Annibale Betrone in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano. Photo: Annibale Betrone in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924).

Oreste Bilancia in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 202. Photo: Alba Film. Oreste Bilancia in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924).

Italia Almirante and Oreste Bilancia in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 197. Photo: publicity still for L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924) with Oreste Bilancia and and Italia Almirante Manzini.

Italia Almirante
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 203. Photo: publicity still for L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924) with Italia Almirante Manzini and Alberto Collo.

Italia Almirante in L'Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ed. G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 204. Photo: publicity still for L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924) with Italia Almirante Manzini.

Italia Almirante and Alberto Collo in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 209. Photo: Italia Almirante Manzini and Alberto Collo in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924).

An Attractive Cast


The Italian costume drama L'arzigogolo/The Court Jester (Mario Almirante, 1924) has an attractive cast.

Leading lady is Italia Almirante Manzini (1890-1941), wife of director Mario Almirante. Italia had starred in the classic epic Cabiria (1914) and was one of the divas of the Italian silent cinema.

The court jester of the title was played by Annibale Betrone (1883-1950). He was an important figure of the Italian theatre of the first half of the 20th century. Betrone also appeared in several silent and sound films.

Oreste Bilancia (1881-1945) was another well known face of the Italian silent cinema. As in L'arzigogolo, he mostly worked as supporting actor, but occasionally he played the main character.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 205. Photo: Alba Film. An ensemble shot from the opening scene of L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The tournament in honor of Violante.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 206. Photo: Alba Film. Italia Almirante Manzini as Monna Violante in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: Violante leaves for the hunting.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 20?. Photo: Alba Film. Italia Almirante Manzini as Monna Violante and Alberto Collo as Count Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: Giano tries in vain to conquer Violante's coldness.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 209. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jester in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: Spallatonda chased from the village.

Arzigogolo 210
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 210. Photo: Alba Film. In the back, Italia Amirante Manzini as Monna Violante and Alberto Collo as Count Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The dinner in the house of Count Giano.

Annibale Betrone in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 211. Photo: Alba Film. Publicity still for L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The arrival of the buffoon at the castle of Giano.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 214. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jester and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: Giano to the Jester: ... if you don't manage to convince Violante of my love I will have your head chopped off!

Italia Almirante and Annibale Betrone in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 216. Photo: Alba Film. Italia Almirante Manzini and Annibale Betrone in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: In the calm moonlight the buffoon sees Violante and declares her his love.

Classic Love Story


L'arzigogolo is a classic love story in the vain of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The story was a liberal adaptation of a popular 1922 stage play by Sem Benelli. The sets were designed by Luigi Sapelli, better known as Caramba, who specialised in costume dramas. Director of photography was Ubaldo Arata, who was one of Italy's most famous cinematographers.

Italia Almirante plays Monna Violante, daughter of the Prince of Capri, who is wed by her father to the rich merchant Floridoro (Oreste Bilancia), a fat and wealthy merchant, confident and convinced of being protected by good fortune.

Monna Violante falls in love with Spallatonda (Annibale Betrone), the court jester and servant of count Giano (Alberto Collo), one of her suitors. After Giano has been killed by the hand of Spallatonda, Monna Violante and Spallatonda run away.

After the premiere, the critic of Il Roma della Domenica wrote: "L'arzigogolo did not delude the high expectations, because it is the result on screen of an original and interesting work. Therefore the poet (Sem Benelli) can be satisfied."

The critic of La Vita Cinematografica adds: "We never saw Italia Almirante so perfect in place. She exquisitely figures as an intelligent woman. Her plastic beauty, preserved by exuberant costumes, makes ;the complex and enigmatic character of Violante more fascinating and suggestive."

L'arzigogolo became one of the most successful films in Italy of 1924.


Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 217. Photo: Alba Film. Oreste Bilancia as Floridoro in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: Floridoro and the servant. Floridoro: Her true love? Who is it? When will he come? Is he far away? Is he here?

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 218 or 219. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jester and Italia Almirante Manzini as Monna Violante in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The Jester: What! No Milady! You have too great haste to forget. But I remember!

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 220. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jester and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The mockery. The Jester: She is in this, it is hers. She whom you'll never have... never!

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 221. Photo: Alba Film. Italia Almirante Manzini as Monna Violante, Annibale Betrone as The Jester, Oreste Bilancia as Floridoro, and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The Jester rebels against Giano and defies death out of love for Violante.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 222. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jesterin L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The Jester in prison.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 224. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jester, Oreste Bilancia as Floridoro, and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The Jester: I redeem myself! I am no longer a jester, but a man!

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 226. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone as The Jester, Oreste Bilancia as Floridoro, and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: Dead!

Italia Almirante in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 227. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone and Italia Almirante Manzini in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: True love...attained in vain... He is dead!

Annibale Betrone and Oreste Bilancia in L'arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 228. Photo: Alba Film. Annibale Betrone and Oreste Bilancia in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The buffoon resurrected to the great terror of Floridoro.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 229. Photo: Alba Film. Oreste Bilancia as Floridoro, and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The Death of Giano.

Arzigogolo
Italian postcard by Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 230. Photo: Alba Film. Italia Almirante Manzini as Monna Violante, Annibale Betrone as The Jester, and Alberto Collo as Giano in L'arzigogolo (Mario Almirante, 1924). Caption: The flight of Violante and Spallatonda after Giano's death.

Sources: Vittorio Martinelli (Il Cinema Muto Italiano 1923-1931 - Italian), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

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