La signorina Elisa insegna scrittura commerciale in una scuola femminile, dove tutte le lettere, per convenzione, vengono inviate ad un inesistente signor Hartman di Vienna ad un indirizzo ... See full summary »
In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys ... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
On New Year's Eve, an insecure, struggling actress (Anna Magnani) has nothing to do. When a colleague invites her to a New Year's party, she jumps at the opportunity. Accidentally she runs ... See full summary »
Edmund, a young boy who lives in war-devastated Germany after the Second World War has to do all kinds of work and tricks to help his family in getting food and barely survive. One day he ... See full summary »
During World War II, Georgy Makharashvili, an old peasant wine-grower, leaves his Georgian village and goes off to the front lines to find his son, a wounded soldier. But before the father ... See full summary »
The pretentious critic Cornelius is writing a biography on a famous cellist and to do some research he goes to stay in his house for a few days. He doesn't manage to get an interview with ... See full summary »
Ingmar Bergman's The Serpent's Egg follows a week in the life of Abel Rosenberg, an out-of-work American circus acrobat living in poverty-stricken Berlin following Germany's defeat in World... See full summary »
Sailor Johannes Blom returns to his home port, after seven years at sea, to find that Sally, the girl he has been thinking of while away, is completely despondent. Seven years earlier, ... See full summary »
A movie director is approached by his old math teacher with a great movie idea: the Devil declares that the Earth is hell. The director rejects the idea, but subsequent events in the life ... See full summary »
La signorina Elisa insegna scrittura commerciale in una scuola femminile, dove tutte le lettere, per convenzione, vengono inviate ad un inesistente signor Hartman di Vienna ad un indirizzo altrettanto inesistente. Elisa è romantica e affida i suoi sogni a lettere che scrive al fantomatico Hartman. Ma una di queste lettere viene trovata da Maddalena Lenci e imbucata. Carlo Hartman però esiste, proprio a quell'indirizzo e ricevuta la lettera corre a Roma per incontrare la ragazza. Ma a Roma c'è anche suo cugino che si innamora di Maddalena scambiandola per Elisa... Written by
Baldinotto da Pistoia
The revolution in Italian cinema started with white telephones
De Sica, famous for his neorealist masterpieces "Bicycle Thieves", "Umberto D.", "Miracle in Milan" (etc.), was pursuing a wartime career almost indistinguishable from the one he enjoyed in the '30s when he shot "Maddalena...", his second film. Handsome and elegant, De Sica was then the Italian equivalent of Cary Grant. Having seen his most famous films, I was expecting a rare find with "Maddalena...". Well, it was a disappointment, at least from that point of view. It is however interesting to compare De Sica's foremost works with "Maddalena...", a much earlier film which has absolutely nothing to do with neorealism.
"Maddalena..." is typical of the "white telephones" films, that is to say upper-class melodramas and comedies that were popular in Italy before and during WWII, when Mussolini wanted cinema to distract and uphold the consensus. The "telefoni bianchi" or "white telephones" pictures gently mocked upper-class convention while celebrating the triumph of the commonplace and were so named because the characters used elegant and pricey white phones rather than the standard black ones. A stage play filmed on sets in a studio, "Maddalena..." is a sentimental romance with a very predictable plot. De Sica plays a young Austrian businessman (remember that the play was originally written in Hungarian) accidentally entangled in a romantic affair with a dreamy Italian school girl (Carla del Poggio) guess what happens next. The only original turn of the plot is that the complications caused by an anonymous love letter eventually bring two (!) couples together. Like all "white telephones" films, "Maddalena..." says nothing about actual everyday life in the Italy of 1940. While the movie has a good pacing and was obviously directed with energy, there is no more than the artificial fluff you will find in most of the nice little comedies of that era. One can see De Sica's subsequent neorealist films precisely as a strong reaction to that type of cinema. After years of such conventional filmmaking, he was probably yearning to give a new direction to his films, either as an actor or as a director. It was nevertheless Mussolini's downfall which led to the birth of neorealism, when shortage of money and cinema equipments made shootings in real locations with non-professional actors an imperative choice. To be fair, the fake characters and phony plots of the "white telephones" films could only lead to a brutal change, which resulted in the production of left-wing films much more in line with what was actually happening in Italian society. "Maddalena..." can therefore be regarded as part of a preparatory phase prior to a more creative and interesting period in De Sica's directorial career.
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