Gallone, Carmine

(1886-1973)
   Director. Frequently unfairly remembered merely as the author of that great flop of Fascist cinema, Scipione I'Africano (Scipio the African, 1937), Gallone was a prolific and widely acclaimed director responsible for over 100 films in a career that stretched from the silent era to the early 1960s.
   Having already achieved some success as an actor and playwright, Gallone joined Cines in 1913, bringing with him his wife, Stanislawa Winaver, who, as Soava Gallone, would become a celebrated actress and one of the major divas. A year later he made his directorial debut with La donna nuda (The Naked Woman, 1914), initiating an artistic partnership with the already-famous diva Lyda Borelli, whom he would subsequently also direct in Marcia nuziale (Wedding March, 1915), Fior di male (Flower of Evil, 1915), La Falena (The Moth, 1916), and Malombra (1916). In the following years he worked extensively with novelist, scriptwriter, and director Lucio D'Ambra to produce a host of sophisticated comedies and elegant melodramas. He widened his scope to the historical film in 1925 with La cavalcata ardente (The Fiery Cavalcade), a romantic costume drama set against the backdrop of the Risorgimento, and a year later a remake of Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (The Last Days of Pompeii).
   In the severe crisis afflicting the Italian film industry during that time, Gallone, like many others, left to work abroad, directing films in Germany, Austria, England, and especially France, where he was influenced by Rene Clair and made several films scripted by Henri-Georges Clouzot. He returned to Italy in 1936 to direct one of the few films directly financed and sponsored by the Fascist regime and, although Scipione L'Africano was officially feted at Venice with the Mussolini Prize, it has come to be generally regarded as an artistic low point in his career. Subsequently Gallone concentrated on what was undoubtedly his most congenial interest, namely music, and followed a direction he had already begun to explore in 1935 with Casta diva (The Divine Spark), a romanticized biography of composer Vincenzo Bellini. In the following years Gallone would pursue his musical interests through fictional biographies of great composers like Verdi (Giuseppe Verdi, 1938), Mozart (Melodie eterne Eternal Melodies, 1940), and Puccini (1953) and films of canonical operas such as Manon Lescaut (1940), Rigoletto (1947), Il trovatore (1949), and Madama Butterfly (1954). Quite interesting experiments in the postwar period were Avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma (Before Him All Rome Trembled, 1949), which married Tosca and the Resistance movement, and Carmen in Trastevere (1963), which set the story of the opera in contemporary times in one of the poorer quarters of Rome.
   Gallone was lured back briefly to the Roman epic with Cartagine in fiamme (Carthage in Flames, 1959), which became his contribution to the flowering of the peplum at that time. Before retiring he also directed two of the popular Don Camillo films, Don Camillo e l'onorevole Peppone (Don Camillo and Deputy Peppone, 1955) and Don Camillo monsignore ma non troppo (Don Cammillo: Monsignor, 1961).
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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