Italian film star Bartolomeo Pagano's "Maciste" played a key role in his nation’s narratives of identity during World War I and after. Jacqueline Reich traces the racial, class, and national transformations undergone by this Italian strongman from African slave in Cabiria (1914), his first film, to bourgeois gentleman, to Alpine soldier of the Great War, to colonial officer in Italy's African adventures. Reich reveals Maciste as a figure who both reflected classical ideals of masculine beauty and virility (later taken up by Mussolini and used for political purposes) and embodied the model Italian citizen. The 12 films at the center of the book, recently restored and newly accessible to a wider public, together with relevant extra-cinematic materials, provide a rich resource for understanding the spread of discourses on masculinity, and national and racial identities during a turbulent period in Italian history. The volume includes an illustrated appendix documenting the restoration and preservation of these cinematic treasures.
Film Stardom was born in Italy with the divine female actress of silent cinema: but how did male stars come to be, and what do they signify? What is the relationship between stardom and Italian masculinity? This volume, the first study dedicated entirely to male stardom in Italian cinema, examines its development from the silent era to the present, offering a reading of the various ways in which male stardom had been understood from the beginnings of the 1900s up through today. In the first part of the book, the authors trace the historical, social and industrial context in which Italian stars positioned themselves, and present the principle theoretical approaches necessary to interpret them, such as semiotics, genre theory, performance studies and the cultural production of fandom. In this vein, much attention is dedicated to understudied aspects of stardom, such as the role between star and audience, the role that viewers play in defining the star’s image, and the transformation and diffusion of stardom through digital media. The first part of the book is accompanied by a detailed analysis of individual stars in the second part, from a wide variety of film periods, genres and styles: from the silent stars Bartolomeo Pagano and Emilio Ghione to those from the interwar period (Vittorio De Sica and Amedeo Nazzari); from the neorealist star Raf Vallone to the stars of the comedy Italian style and political cinema (Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni and Gian Maria Volonté), up through contemporary stardom with Roberto Benigni, Carlo Verdone, Toni Servillo, and Riccardo Scamarcio.
Marcello Mastroianni is considered by many to be the epitome of the Latin lover, the consummate symbol of Italian masculinity. In Beyond the Latin Lover, Jacqueline Reich unmasks the reality behind the myth. In her investigation of many of Mastroianni's most famous characters in Italian cinema, she reveals that beneath the image of hyper-masculinity lies the figure of the inetto, the Italian schlemiel at odds with and out of place in a rapidly changing world. Diverse roles throughout his career--the impotent man, the cuckold, and the unruly woman's victim, among others--present an anti-hero caught in traditional but increasingly unsteady modes of masculinity. Far from being a study of just one Italian film star, however, Reich's work demonstrates that Mastroianni's inetto is a reflection of the unstable political, social, and sexual climate of post-war Italy and its constantly shifting gender roles.
When Benito Mussolini proclaimed that "Cinema is the strongest weapon," he was telling only half the story. In reality, very few feature films during the Fascist period can be labeled as propaganda. Re-viewing Fascism considers the many films that failed as "weapons" in creating cultural consensus and instead came to reflect the complexities and contradictions of Fascist culture. The volume also examines the connection between cinema of the Fascist period and neorealism -- ties that many scholars previously had denied in an attempt to view Fascism as an unfortunate deviation in Italian history. The postwar directors Luchino Visconti, Roberto Rossellini, and Vittorio de Sica all had important roots in the Fascist era, as did the Venice Film Festival. While government censorship loomed over Italian filmmaking, it did not prevent frank depictions of sexuality and representations of men and women that challenged official gender policies. Re-viewing Fascism brings together scholars from different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds as it offers an engaging and innovative look into Italian cinema, Fascist culture, and society.