Freda, Riccardo

(1909-1999)
   Screenwriter and director. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Neapolitan parents, Freda joined the film industry in 1934, working originally as a screenwriter. He made his directorial debut with Don Cesare di Bazan (1942), a swashbuckling costume drama set in 17th-century Spain, cowritten with Sergio Amidei and Cesare Zavattini and starring Gino Cervi.
   In the immediate postwar period Freda began to specialize in the adventure genre, beginning with Aquila nera (Return of the Black Eagle, 1946), an exotic costume drama set in czarist Russia, and then I miserabili (1948), an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel Les miserables, which was released in two parts, Caccia all'uomo (Man Hunt) and Tempesta su Parigi (Storm over Paris). This was followed by II cavaliere misterioso (The Mysterious Rider, 1948), a Casanova adventure thriller that starred Vittorio Gassman in one of his first lead roles, and Il conte Ugolino (Count Ugolino, 1949), a gothic rendering of one of the most famous episodes from Dante's Inferno.
   In the 1950s Freda made a number of low-budget historical epics before laying down what is regarded as the cornerstone of the revival of the Italian horror genre with I vampiri (The Devil's Commandment, 1957, made under the pseudonym Robert Hampton), which was photographed by Mario Bava. He subsequently worked with some success in most of the popular genres, from more sword-and-sandal films such as Maciste alla corte del Gran Khan (Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World) and Maciste all'inferno (Maciste in Hell, 1962, as Robert Hampton), to Westerns such as La morte non conta i dollari (No Death without Dollars, 1967, credited as George Lincoln). However, he achieved his greatest renown internationally for his stylish exercises in gothic horror, such as L'orribile segreto del dottor Hichcock (The Horrible Secret of Dr. Hichcock, 1962) and Estratto dagli archivi segreti della polizia di una capitale europea (Tragic Ceremony, 1972). In the early 1980s he made a final horror thriller, L'ossessione che uccide (Murder Syndrome, 1981) before retiring from filmmaking altogether. He returned briefly to the industry in the early 1990s to direct La fille de d'Artagnan (The Daughter of D'Artagnan, 1994), but the film was eventually finished by Bernand Tavernier and Freda's name was removed from the credits.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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