Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Italian (1915) Film Review

Plot Summary - Silent film about an Italian immigrant couple and their struggle in America. The film begins in Old Italy, where singing gondolier Beppo romances his pretty sweetheart Annette in a rather idyllic, happy peasant village. Annette's father gives Beppo one year to have the funds to make a home for his daughter or she will have to marry an aged and rich local merchant who has asked the dad for her hand in marriage. So - Beppo sails for America, and Annette waits for the day he can send for her, which hopefully will be before she's forced to marry the rich old man she doesn't love, he's a ringer for an Italian "Colonel Sanders". In the slums of New York's Lower East Side, Beppo sets up a bootblack stand and has a bit of luck when a man gives him some cash hoping Beppo will coax his Italian friends to vote for his "candidate". Annette is sent the money and sails to America to join him. From marriage to the birth of a son to a terrible heat wave which threatens their baby's life to bad men who beat and rob Beppo and other hardships - life just keeps getting tougher and tougher for these two!

Review - Melodramatic and tragic, this film is an interesting watch that really benefits from all the well done outdoor photography done in this. Lovely scenes of sunny Italy and the village where they live, full of vineyards and a pretty old monastery and our couple, silhouetted against the sky at sunset - and scenes done in the New York City slums with streets full of immigrants, laundry lines, and a horse-drawn ice wagon. The camerawork is quite advanced for it's time, the cinematography really well done with close-ups, zooms, and wonderful lighting. The DVD of this is from Flicker Alley and features a really terrific looking print with mainly a light sepia tinting, the images in a few of the scenes looked so good it looked like the film could have been shot yesterday - only a few short segments seemed to be taken from a 16mm print. The orchestral score that accompanies the film, done by the Mont Alto Orchestra, is excellent and a good match for the film's story. The DVD included two Edison shorts that both featured some interesting on-location scenes - "Police Force, New York City (1910)" and "McQuade of the Traffic Squad (1915)" (this short looked liked it was photographed yesterday too, the print was so clear). Rating - 9/10 stars

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