Looking through the Italian 1910s periodical Film, I regularly noticed adverts for coming attractions/productions that prominently use question marks. Tactic to heighten suspense, lack of concrete planning on the part of that theatre/production company, stylistic quirk of this journal—whatever the reason, I really liked this visual device. So, enjoy an image gallery of these Italian film advertisement question marks!
What will Savoia-Film of Torino come up with next?
Considering the company went into a suspension in 1918 from which it did not recover, the answer is: very little.
Short-lived company Megale-Film (Roma/Napoli) take a similarly enigmatic approach.
Principesca Film of Rome announce “four grand subjects”: a love story, an adventure film, a “colossal biblical reconstruction” and a powerful modern ciné-tragedy in four parts and a prologue.
One of my favourites:
The film is actually Zeus, directed by Aldo Molinari and starring Vania Krasiensky, a Polish dancer according to the caption. Here’s another advert from later the same month with the full title, though still a lavish use of decorative punctuation.
Not much context to the following image, which is a rather subtle ad for the productions of Alfonso De Giglio—that’s his emblem at lower right. De Giglio also produced L’atleta fantasma (1919), featuring a masked hero who wore a chain-mail headdress.
And an emphatic appearance from the classical Italian strongman himself:
Fernanda Negri-Pouget began in films early (1906), and seems to enjoyed a particular vogue in the mid-to-late teens, judging by the frequency of ads for her films. Miss Fluffy Ruffles of 1918 was advertised heavily and quite lavishly.
History has not remembered Lora Darcy, who does not even have an IMDb listing.
Megale-Film are back! Now they’re teasing us with Alberto Capozzi’s next project:
An adaptation of the famous ‘opera’ by ‘Schakespeare’:
Supposedly directed by Enrico Guazzoni of Quo Vadis? (1912) fame, I can find no traces of this Macbeth adaptation—so the mystery of who would play Lady Macbeth remains forever unsolved.
A film that did find life:
That’s Il rosso e il nero (1920). Per the IMDb listing, Mario Bonnard and Maria Caserini seem to have been the leads.
What next for G. Ardizzone’s film exchange in Palermo?
Not quite the same as the other adverts presented here, but I couldn’t resist this ad for … E dopo? (1918), directed by Febo Mari, that key auteur of the Italian silent era.
Leading actress Nietta Mordeglia, pictured in the circle, was Mari’s long-term partner. Note also the ‘FM’ logo in the point of the question mark. … E dopo? is not known to survive.
What are Cines up to?
From the director and story source, the answer appears to be the title Cosmopolis (1920), which—in his third appearance in this post!—stars Alberto Capozzi.
Gigi Armandis presents “I beniamini del pubblico”: ‘the darlings of the public’. However, I’m unable to identify a collaboration between him and Roberto Bracco.
Another actress lost to time: Claretta Rosaj (aka Clarette Rosaj and Claretta Rosay). Here Caesar Film announce a series of films starring the “charming and elegant” (vezzosa ed elegantissima) actress. The same page advertises several films starring Gustabo Serena and Tilde Kassay, as well as several of Francesca Bertini’s films, including La piovra | The Octopus (1919).
Film no.21 del 1918 (31 July 1918); postcard of Ms. Rosaj.
Two films Rosaj made at Caesar are Fiaccole | Torches (1918) and Giorgia (1919). Her 1922 film Tragedia di bambola | Tragedy of a Doll survives at Eastman House.
Filmgraf were doing the hard sell—the below advert for Aquile umane appears several times. The film seems to have been released under the title Aquile romane (1919), which rather undermines Filmgraf’s publicity efforts. Side note: it’s another film in which Gustavo Serena acted.
Film no. 25 of 1918 (31 August 1918); Film no. 31 of 1918 (31 October 1918)
And lastly, this may not be a question mark, but this kind of nightmare fuel deserves to be shared widely:
Film d’eccezione appear to have been a short-lived company, and with this kind of approach … it’s not hard to see why.