The title of this pleasing film, especially pleasing for buffs of classic and silent cinema, translates as "The Suitcase of Dreams." I suppose this is literally a film-buff's film. In it Umberto Melnati plays a former actor from the Italian silent cinema, Ettore Omeri. He collects old films from his time and enjoys showing them in schools. Some of the young people laugh inappropriately at a few of the "old-fashioned" clips.
One woman, a celebrated silent screen actress, recognizes herself in one of the films, and is annoyed by the juvenile responses. She asks Omeri for the clip. Her son goes to visit the ex-actor's secretary who, while handling the nitrate film, starts a fire in the archive. At first Omeri is arrested for starting a fire, but then is freed through the intervention of the rich producer husband of the ex-actress. She gives him a job and he is able to open a museum of the cinema.
The movie relies a great deal on our nostalgia for the cinema of the forgotten past, and our wistful hero Ettore wins our sympathy in his pursuits. He is sort of an Italianate version of France's Henri Langlois, who created the Cinémathèque Française. In fact the only occasion I know of the movie's presentation in the U.S. was of a print from the Cinémathèque Française, with French subtitles, presented at the Anthology Film Archives in New York in 1998.
Much of the movie is given over to actual film clips from the Italian silent period, which are often fascinating and sometimes amusing as well. Among the stars in those excerpts are divas Francesca Bertini, Eleonora Duse, Lyda Borelli, Elena Makowska, Italia Almirante Manzini, Pina Menichelli and male stars like Amleto Novelli, Ermete Zacconi, Antonio Gandusio, Barolomeo "Maciste" Pagano, Gustavo Serena, Febo Mari. Like the much later "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso" of Giuseppe Tornatore, this work by veteran Luigi Comencini treats its subject with no small measure of love and affection. In the cast are also Maria Pia Casilio, Elena Makowska, Roberto Risso.
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