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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:41 pm 
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Just caught CHAINS, so superior and so modern in its narrative pace and juxtaposed contrasts, I love it! Calls to mind comparisons with melodrama in De Sica, Visconti & De Santis (in CC's coming BITTER RICE) but also suggestions of something in Capra (say MR DEEDS...) Looking forward to seeing more, but so far utterly wonderful... One of the best Eclipse sets altogether...


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:36 pm 
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I'm really glad I waited until now to praise Amedeo Nazzari considering how much this is absolutely his show. Throughout he has been a complex enigma and tool fro which to cause Sanson emotion, but in The White Angel finally as the lead he becomes something different all together. That's not to say his role is original as much as it gives him time to shine as this complex man of failure. There's a beautiful passiveness to him that is striking considering the aggressive nature of these films. Even here he comes across as a wondering spirit sliding from each event hoping that the next produces happiness. His performance's take on misery is where it becomes totally unique and strange.

That's not the only thing that's strange though as after Nobody's Children if you asked me what the follow up would be I would have never in a million years thought a riff on Le Grand Jeu. The film hits all of the notes that we've come to recognize with this sort of story and it seems smaller as a result, but the natural oddness that comes with romantic doppelgangers keeps things in that heightened world. It also gives Sanson ample opportunity to show off how versatile she is, but I've already given her plenty of credit elsewhere in this thread.

This is the slowest burn of the set, but by the end of part one it also becomes the most shocking on an experience level with the music managing to top Lawrence of Arabia in suggesting a grand scale and performances that are verbose,but never manic. This is such a drastically different experience from the other three films that it was almost like being reintroduced to Matarazzo.

That's not to say that this is unrecognizable from his other works. From an auteurist point the final results are all clear indicators of who was behind the camera, but the way he arrives there is so drastically different that it seems like a new experiment so in a sense the set has gone full circle from an experiment into melodrama to an experiment out of it. By out of it I don't mean he's left the genre, but rather entered into a whole different world from his previous one. If the first three films are Sirk than this one is Almodovar to give an idea of the sensitivities I'm referring to even if elements of both directors are in all four films.

I guess in using Almodovar terms this film takes a genre (or two or three) and applies the rules of his domestic meldramas to it. I'm not sure if the woman's prison movie existed before this film, the only example I can think of is Caged which is nothing like this film, but afterward you couldn't do it any different. This is an absolute genre definer taking loose strands from various ideas and making it into a new basis. In that respect the film is as important as Seven Samurai or Underworld even if appropriately the genre it defined isn't classy or respectable in the least.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:16 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:30 am
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knives wrote:
I'm not sure if the woman's prison movie existed before this film, the only example I can think of is Caged
Matarazzo himself had directed in 1953 a woman's prison movie, La nave delle donne maledette (The Ship of Condemned Women, 1953). Very interesting movie, indeed.
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There's a beautiful passiveness to him that is striking considering the aggressive nature of these films.
About passiveness (and subtler doppelgangers), there's a marvellous Matarazzo comedy from 30s, Sono stato io! (Blame Me!).


Last edited by Saimo on Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:20 am 
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For some reason I thought that film (which has been mentioned in this thread more than the actual films represented) came out afterward. Love that that is not true. I hope this set succeeds so we can get a sequel.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:44 am 
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What is the source for those past box office in lire?
Gracias


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:04 am 
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Gian Piero Brunetta - THE HISTORY OF ITALIAN CINEMA (Princeton)....


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:02 pm 

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My box office figures come from an appendix in Neorealismo d'appendice (the same book on Matarazzo I sent you).


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:24 pm 
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Saimo wrote:
My box office figures come from an appendix in Neorealismo d'appendice (the same book on Matarazzo I sent you).

Tell me about this book, sounds fascinating, is it worth picking up?....


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:07 am 

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Unfortunately, it dates 1976, so he is hardly available. Italian only, of course.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:07 am 
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A me? I have only receipt a Pasolini PDF and the Ferrara tourism one. At least I don't remember or I lost it. Are you sured it wasn't for the other Spaniard?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:20 am 
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I caught two more Matarazzo films (not included in the Eclipse set) on Hulu, He Who Is Without Sin and Torno! both under Criterion label. I don't know the story why Criterion decided not to include them in the set but I think I know why. They are not as solid, bold and delirious as those in the set but they are still worth a look. I think it's a smart move by Criterion not to include those films because Matarazzo being pretty much a new discovery for most of us, the Eclipse set is a homerun of his films from Chains to The White Angel. It is really an awesome cinematic journey starting with the first frame of Chains to the final frame of The White Angels - a miraculous flow, actually a build up to the crescendo that makes up the wild finale of The White Angel. The last two titles are my favorites. If Criterion had added the Hulu titles to the set, they would add speed bumps to the experience. They are good but certainly lukewarm next to the blazing hot poker of the Eclipse titles.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:47 am 
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:-" According to the Piracy guys that use and translate the subtitles, as always with Italian films made by Americans, the subtitles are B A D, short, confusing or changing things in some parts.

I cannot judge them because I own the Italian un-subtitled DVDs and not the Eclipse box but I trust their thoughts.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:08 pm 
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Michael wrote:
Having seen only one film Chains which I caught last night, I have a hunch that the set is going to be my favorite of all Eclipse sets. The film was so much fun that I can't wait to see the rest of the set. Actually watching the film was like reliving Christmas dinners with my family!

My grandparents from both sides of my family are from Italy (Napoli and Palermo) and two decades ago when I was discovering Fellini and Antonioni, I asked my grandparents if they had seen anything by either one of those directors. They were not sure but they described the films they watched when they were younger back in the 1940s - 1950s. Their descriptions sound awfully a lot like Chains.

I was exhilarated by the sublime Southern Italian sensibilities of Chains - the family unit complete with nonna, the Catholic symbolism, the Southern Italian songs, and so forth. The saint under glass on the bureau - my grandparents had the same thing. It was really lovely to see the Napoli / Amalfi coast, that birthday dinner party part was amazing - a celebration overlooking a bay and the intense discomfort invading the song-filled air as we fixate on an obsessive ex-lover stalker sitting next to the birthday wife. Fabulous stuff.

Looking up Matarazzo on Hulu, I discovered two titles: Torno and He Who Is Without Sin. Does that mean Criterion is planning to release them on disc? I am thinking about joining Hulu just to watch those films after I'm finished with the set.

I watched 'Chains' last night and enjoyed it immensely for what it is, an unashamed, albeit immaculately sculpted, tearjerker.
And I'm looking forward to watching the remaining films in the set.
What this film had going for it to raise it above 'yer bog-standard Hollywood melodrama' was a great script, carefully modulated pacing, and an assured hand in the director's chair.
The film knew its target audience and milked them for everything it had: the religious invocations were classically Italian

I'm still trying to think who the two leads reminded me of: at times the lead actress reminded me of Ava Gardner, and at other times even Katy Jurado, but more often than not I think a favourite actress of Luis Bunuel; the actor resembled, at least superficially, Serge Reggiani, but I'm sure there's somebody else; perhaps somebody who featured in an Fellini film or two.

Best performance for me, by a country mile, was Rosalia Randazzo, who played Angelina: cute, precocious, devious, inquisitive, manipulative: she was all these things and more. I wonder whatever happened her when she grew up?

Loved the tenor tunes; hopefully we'll be getting more of them


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:41 pm 
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Quote:
I caught two more Matarazzo films (not included in the Eclipse set) on Hulu, He Who Is Without Sin and Torno! both under Criterion label. I don't know the story why Criterion decided not to include them in the set but I think I know why. They are not as solid, bold and delirious as those in the set but they are still worth a look.

Yes, they're certainly worth a look. Not exactly sure why they're not in the set, but your hypothesis is quite likely. Another reason for not including "Torna" is that it's a Ferraricolor film that's apparently suffered some serious damage in the color department. Most likely the color has faded or distorted to the point where some extensive restoration work needs to be done on it. In fact, it's available on Hulu only in a rather odd looking black & white version.

Besides possible color problems, all of the optical disolves are oddly missing from the Hulu version, and replaced with black filler. This seems to indicate that the opticals were either separated from the rest of the elements and lost, or are in such rough shape that they can't be printed up in a viewable condition. I can't think of another film, black & white or color, that's suffered a similar fate, though there must be some out there.


Last edited by Fred Holywell on Wed Oct 19, 2011 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:51 pm 
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Three down, and these clearly aren't my cup of tea. They all seem stylistically perfunctory to me. I don't see anything here that's better or as good as the blandest De Sica of the era, and we're a very long way from Sirk or Bellissima. Unless you've never seen a melodrama before, I really don't see how these films generate much excitement.

So they're interesting as examples of straight genre fare of the time, but I find my tolerance for one-dimensional characters running around complicating one another's lives in implausible ways running dangerously low, and it's not as if there are other factors (humour, brilliant performances, thrilling musical numbers, original or dazzling technique) to keep me diverted.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
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zedz wrote:
Three down, and these clearly aren't my cup of tea.

I too found the first three films disappointingly flat and superficial but at least the second half of The White Angel approached the “baroque delirium” and “ferocious grandeur” claimed in Criterion's notes. For me, the biggest potential asset of melodrama is that it provides a strong skeleton which can be fleshed out with juicy performances, psychological and emotional insight, bold, stylish visuals and soaring melodies (musical, visual or whatever), but in most of these films I see little more than the dry bones of narrative - like reading a detailed plot synopsis of an Italian opera. On a purely narrative level, they are lively and compelling in the time-passing way of a good TV soap. But I don’t feel they come anywhere near the richness of the better Hollywood or French melodramas of their time, or even the British, though their plain, efficient storytelling does remind me (except for their contemporary settings) of the tedious Gainsborough costume melodramas which promise so much and deliver so little.

Even in their tragic moments, the first three at least seem rarely touched by the noir style and sensibility which pervaded so many genres in American, Asian and most European cinema at this time. Perhaps that’s part of their Italian (and Catholic) individuality; indeed, on a non-narrative level they sometimes seem remarkably close to their neo-realist compatriots, particularly Nobody’s Children's location scenes at the quarry, and the concern with its exploited workers. But the difference of course is that they are little more than background for the film’s plot entanglements. The neo-realists would surely also have made a more physically convincing job of the dramatic highpoints, like the quarry explosion or the river rescue of the girl. The main characters don’t seem to age over the film’s 13-year period. Some of the death scenes in the first three films are almost comically stagey and Amedeo Nazzari, the stolid hero in all four, makes even his 1930s Hollywood lookalike John Boles seem expressive by comparison. In The White Angel, when he's finally and unexpectedly reunited with his great love, the object of his obsessive two-film quest, he barely registers mild surprise.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:21 am 
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Strong contender for the worst of all classical Eclipse sets. I had low expectations for Catene, but as the two previous posters I completely fail to see what is supposed to be interesting about these films. I deliberately say interesting not good because that's not a judgement anybody with a sketchy knowledge of art would and could make. The actors are atrocious, Nazzari is wooden, Sanson cheaply melodramatic, the children annoyingly cute. The visual style is pedestrian, the storytelling consists of a few routine melodramatic twists.
Reading the comments from Criterion and some users one would think this is some kind of feverish melodrama a la Tulio, but it's just banal stuff I've seen made dozens of times in this era and avoided dozens of other examples because life is too short to watch all this stuff. There's no delirious acting, no subversive message, no wild plotting, no images burning into one's mind via excess.
It's just plain forgettable, ordinary melodrama. A great pity that Criterion choose to release this stuff. I know this ís a pretty standard outcry, but having been successful once and representative of a certain genre stereotype doesn't really make these films something which had to be pulled back in the limelight. There are hundreds of films of pre 1960s cinema which warrant wider exposure and they shouldn't be bypassed for this trash.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:04 am 
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I must agree with Lubitsch regarding Catene. I recorded it on French TV and found it a very average film with wooden actors. I had already caught L'Intrusa (1956) which is even more boring, La schiava del peccato (1954) with a Pampanini who is a better actress than Sanson and L'avventuriera del piano di sopra (1941) a fairly average comedy saved by the talented Vittorio de Sica. So far, I fail to see what makes Matarazzo so great in the eyes of some modern film-lovers. I love Soldati, Camerini, De Sica, Monicelli, Germi and Risi. But I cannot understand the Matarazzo appeal, even after reading an article and interview from a vintage 1976 Positif magazine.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:10 am 
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Which "modern film-lovers" find him great other than those who swear by Criterion as the bible of great cinema? From my experience he's someone who should be given attention due to the sheer popularity of his films at the time but someone who has become less than minor due to the quality of his work.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:39 pm 

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TMDaines wrote:
Which "modern film-lovers" find him great other than those who swear by Criterion as the bible of great cinema?
For example, Jacques Lourcelles calls him "le plus grand metteur en scène italien".
http://www.cinetecadibologna.it/files/f ... go2007.pdf
Quote:
I love Soldati, Camerini, De Sica, [...] Germi [...].
No question about that: Soldati, Camerini, De Sica and Germi's films are much better than Matarazzo. Still, I often find his works pretty interesting: look for example at the flash-back in Catene (shaming desires emerging from premarital sex) or at the doppelganger theme developed in L'angelo bianco (necrophile interest). Sometimes acting and direction are very basic and sometimes you have completely over-the-top scenes, but these films face questions about desire and female sexuality that most Italian films didn't even dare to ask. (And, by the way, consider that despite their Catholic symbolism, Matarazzo films were ALL banned from Catholic theaters...)

That said, if you are looking for an auteur working in the genre, just forget Matarazzo and give Vittorio Cottafavi a chance.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:51 pm 
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Finally I watched Tormento ( I adore mother with huge troubles movies, is there a word in English for describing this genre ala Stella Dallas ???) and Traviata 53, and I reaffirm that I must be blind with Cottafavi, I don't see his auteur or originality at all.
I prefer Matarazzo. I enjoy his films very much.
Nazzari is like a stone but Yvonne Sanson is not as bad. She was terrific in a comedy. I loved her with Totò in L'imperatore di Capri.

Lattuada's Anna is also delirious, very close to Matarazzo's world, very catholic.

Probably Soldati's melos are the best, may be because some are from solid materials like La provinciale, based on Moravia.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:13 pm 

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Quote:
Lattuada's Anna is also delirious, very close to Matarazzo's world, very catholic.

Anna is great film, one of Italian best melodramas. The story is very close to Matarazzo, yes, but Lattuada's style is highly Hollywoodian, both in storytelling and camerawork. Together with Mario Soldati, he was one the most stylish Italian director.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:04 pm 
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One of the memorable scenes from Anna, cutting from Silvano as nun to her previous life!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:46 am 

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david hare wrote:
One of the memorable scenes from Anna, cutting from Silvano as nun to her previous life!!
Director Gianni Amelio once said: "if dissolve had never existed, Lattuada would have invented it for this scene" :)

Quote:
Finally I watched Tormento ( I adore mother with huge troubles movies, is there a word in English for describing this genre ala Stella Dallas ???) and Traviata 53, and I reaffirm I must be blind with Cottafavi, I don't see his auteur or originality at all.
I prefer Matarazzo. I enjoy his films very much.
Have you seen Nel gorgo del peccato? This is Cottafavi least original melodrama, his only Matarazzo-sque film, but perhaps you may enjoy this mother-in-troubles story. Starring Elisa Cegani and Margot Hielscher, and the Italian RHV disc has English subs.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:48 am 
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Saimo wrote:
That said, if you are looking for an auteur working in the genre, just forget Matarazzo and give Vittorio Cottafavi a chance.
Well, I've seen a few Cottafavi. His first film I Nostri Sogni (1943) with Vittorio De Sica & Maria Mercader is excellent. Una donna ha ucciso (1952) was an overblown melodrama not deprived of interest, though dated. But I didn't like Traviata '53. This modern Traviata didn't work for me and I found Barbara Laage totally bland.


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