Italian, The (1915)
OK, I admit, I goofed and watched this one a little early. Some source I read referred to this as a 1914 film, probably because it was shot in November, 1914, but it wasn’t actually in theaters until January, 1915 (hence, it would not qualify for a Century Award until next year). I have to say, though, this has me excitedly anticipating next year, because the technical sophistication of this film is far above anything I’ve reviewed so far. It’s also a powerful tear-jerker, telling the story of a hopeful young immigrant whose dreams are thwarted in the New World, and his determination to take revenge on the family of the man he thinks has wronged him. George Beban apparently had a previous successful career playing “ethnic” characters on stage, but this was his first break into movies. His portrayal is ultimately a caricature (emphasized by intertitles with typical Italian broken English), but it is sympathetic almost to a fault. No doubt producers at Paramount were aware that much of the audience for silent films came from immigrant groups, including many Italians, and a hateful portrayal would have worked against them. If you stop to think about it, the portrayal of Italians in later films, including “Marty” and “The Godfather” would be similarly stereotypical, but would nevertheless appeal to Italian Americans’ sense of identity.
Director: Reginald Barker
Starring: George Beban, Clara Williams
Run Time: 74 Min
You can watch it for free: here.
[…] this movie, produced by Thomas Ince and directed by Reginald Barker (the same team that gave us “The Italian” at the beginning of the year) was “made to capitalize on the success of” the better-known […]
[…] to a sick family member, only to be arrested and detained would be re-used more effectively in “The Italian” four years later. This is nevertheless an emotionally effective film, and a good example of how […]
[…] romance story worthy of D.W. Griffith. Mary, played by Clara Williams (who we’ve seen in “The Italian” and who went on to star in “Hell’s Hinges”), meets a charming and very clean-shaven […]
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[…] a new year, and now I “get” to start talking about movies from 1915, but I’m not even done with 1914 yet! The next few days will be catch-up, as I prepare to post […]
[…] really isn’t much to the “1910-“ part of the time range. Finally, only one of the movies (“The Italian”) really has anything to do with the “immigrant experience,” and even that was really more […]