Lombardo, Gustavo

(1885-1951)
   Producer and distributor. A key figure in the history of the Italian film industry, Lombardo established one of the first film distribution companies in Naples in 1904. In 1908 he founded the monthly magazine Lux to publicize films and their availability and a year later his Societa italiana Gustavo Lombardo anonima (SIGLA) had become the official distributor for most of the major Italian and foreign companies, including Gaumont, Eclair, Comerio, Vitagraph, Itala, and Aquila. At a time when cinema owners still bought their films outright from producers, Lombardo strongly championed the idea of exhibitors' hiring films from distributors. In 1911, as both a distributor and exhibitor himself, he achieved a major coup with his effective launch of Milano Films' milestone film, L'Inferno, a feat he repeated with the spectacular Roman premiere of Itala's Cabiria in 1914. In 1915, still in Naples, he greatly extended his distribution network with the creation of Monopolio grandi films (Monopoly Great Films).
   In 1917 he moved into production by forming Lombardo Film, one of the few companies that declined to join the ill-fated Unione Cinematografica Italiana (UCI, Italian Cinematographic Union) and which thus managed to weather the crisis that engulfed the industry in the early 1920s. In 1928 Lombardo moved his operations to Rome and founded the production company Titanus, providing it with its own studios at the Farnesina. Although the number of films Lombardo produced himself during this period was relatively small, two of them, Fermo con le mani (Hands Off Me!, 1937) and Animalipazzi (Crazy Animals, 1939), were historically significant since they effectively launched the film career of the great comic actor Toto. In the immediate postwar period Lombardo remained a major presence in the industry. Again he produced very few films but among them was Catene (Chains, 1949), the first of a long line of teary but extremely popular melodramas directed by Raffaello Matarazzo, which would sustain the company's fortunes in the 1950s when it would be managed by his son, Goffredo.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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