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The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916)

Fenella, a poor Italian girl, falls in love with a Spanish nobleman, but their affair triggers a revolution and national catastrophe.


Germain Delavigne (opera), Eugène Scribe (opera) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Anna Pavlova Anna Pavlova ... Fenella
Rupert Julian ... Masaniello
Wadsworth Harris Wadsworth Harris ... Duke d'Arcos
Douglas Gerrard Douglas Gerrard ... Alphonso
Jack Holt ... Conde (as John Holt)
Betty Schade Betty Schade ... Isabella
Edna Maison ... Elvira
Jack Hoxie ... Perrone (as Hart Hoxie)
William Wolbert William Wolbert ... Pietro
Laura Oakley Laura Oakley ... Rilla
Nigel De Brulier ... Father Francisco (as N. De Brouillet)
George A. Williams
Lois Wilson


Fenella, a poor Italian girl, falls in love with a Spanish nobleman, but their affair triggers a revolution and national catastrophe.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | Romance







Release Date:

3 April 1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Muda de Portici See more »

Filming Locations:

Universal City, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(1920s reissue print held at BFI) | (2015 restoration)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This movie is sometimes included in the filmography of Boris Karloff but his presence is unverified and Karloff himself never mentioned having worked with Anna Pavlova. See more »


During Fenella and Alphonso's romantic interlude on the beach, a modern clapboard structure with a shingled roof and double-hung windows, is visible amid structures that match the village set. See more »

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User Reviews

Overaged Cheese
13 October 2012 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

In 1916 Lois Weber and Phillips Smalley were the go-to pair at Universal for serious tracts and interesting experimental cinema. So when Paramount did a silent movie of Carmen with opera star Geraldine Farrar and it worked beautifully, Weber and Smalley counterpunched with a silent version of MASANIELLO with great ballet dancer Pavlova -- a much more natural-sounding bit of casting for a silent movie. Then they shot it in a far more naturalistic fashion than Weber and Smalley usually used -- despite Pavlova wandering around the beach in toe shoes -- and did enormous and expensive set decorating.

Unhappily, while it probably worked very well at the time -- at least to the extent of letting audiences see the prima ballerina of the Russian ballet and in making it clear that real artists of the real arts would do movies -- this movie has not aged well. The melodramatic plot was typical of grand opera of the period, but modern tastes in stories are less grandiose and Miss Pavlova, while she moves beautifully, is clearly a stage actress and does not know how to tone down her performance for the screen. I also find the sumptuousness of the set decoration distracting.

There is much for a fan of silent movies of the 1910s to take pleasure in: the mobility of the camera, the advanced editing of the piece all serve the film in a manner that was striking in the period. However, given that almost a century has passed, much has changed to render this movie plebeian and odd. Even the word "Dumb" in the title longer means "mute" to the modern speaker of English, but "stupid". I fear the casual modern viewer will think this movie dumb in both senses of the word.

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