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Author Topic: Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult (Howard Hughes)  (Read 5228 times)

Inspector Tanzi

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[amazondvd]Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult - Amazon.co.uk[/amazondvd]

Uncovering a treasure trove of Italian films from The Leopard to Puma Man - Italian filmmakers have created some of the most magical and moving, violent and controversial films in world cinema. During its twentieth-century heyday, Italy's film industry was second only to Hollywood as a popular film factory, exporting cinematic dreams worldwide. With international finance and multinational stars, Italian filmmakers tackled myriad genres with equal gusto and in inimitable style. Cinema Italiano is the first book to discuss comprehensively both Italian 'popular' and 'arthouse' cinema of this golden age. Appraising over 400 movies, Cinema Italiano unearths the best of Italian cinema. Dario Argento's 'gialli' thrillers and Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns are explored alongside the best films of Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michelangelo Antonioni. Chapters discuss the rise and fall of genres such as mythological epics, gothic horrors, science-fiction, spy films, war movies, costume adventures, zombie films, swashbucklers, political cinema, spaghetti westerns and 'poliziotteschi' crime films. The book also traces the directorial careers and key films of such luminaries as Mario Bava, Sergio Corbucci, Francesco Rosi, Lucio Fulci, Duccio Tessari, Enzo G. Castellari, Bernardo Bertolucci and Gillo Pontecorvo. An essential guide for DVD and video collectors and aficionados alike, it is illustrated throughout with rare stills and international posters from this revered era in world cinema. Films include: La dolce vita, Hercules Conquers Atlantis, The Leopard, The Terror of Dr Hichcock, Contempt, The Gospel According to St Matthew, Castle of Blood, Fists in the Pocket, Django, Battle of Algiers, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Blowup, Diabolik, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Conformist, They Call Me Trinity, Violent City, The Marseilles Connection, Illustrious Corpses, Suspiria, The Big Silence, The Mask of Satan, Maciste in Hell, Blood and Black Lace, Hercules Against the Moon Men, The Last Man on Earth, The Wild, Wild Planet, Special Mission Lady Chaplin, Django Kill!, Fellini Satyricon, Deep Red, Sons of Thunder, Tentacles, The Inglorious Bastards, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Puma Man, 1990: Bronx Warriors, 8½, Once Upon a Time in the West, L'Avventura, Black Sabbath, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.



I enjoyed reading his Western book so I will grab this at some point.
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Jonny

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Cool! I'll pick this up at some point too. Good price as well.
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Kevin Coed

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Didn't know about this book. Just ordered.  :P :P
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Kevin Coed

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Book arrived a couple of days ago. Had a quick skim through it - it splits everything down into genres and sub-genres and seems to cover all bases. Was interesting to see most of the artwork repros are credited to 'The Ian Caunce Collection' - Ian used to do the great fanzine 'Absurd' back in the eighties so it's good to see that he's still around somewhere.
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gaz1

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 Very Nice, Just ordered one. Great find  ;)
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Zarith

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 Very Nice, Just ordered one. Great find  ;)

Ordered one as well. With such a low price I couldn't hesitate...

Thanks for the link.
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Zarith

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I spent a few hours reading it. It's well written and fun to read. It's an extensive panorama of Italian cinema, not only focusing on the classics but also the lesser known B movies. This is rare are appreciated. Most books are either exploring one side or the other, rarely both. Hughes has a global approach of cinema.  In this book Fellini and Visconti meet Cozzi and Deodato!

Hughes treats every genre with respect. Unlike in the book "La Dolce Morte", there is no elitism here. Hughes is never pedantic and spare us superfluous academic analysis.

Each popular Italian genre is presented by a description, then we get factual information about the most important films of the genre and short critics. Luckily it's all presented in a informal way: Hughes switch constantly from discussions to film guide. The critics themselves are short. At best we get a little review, at worse a one sentence subjective opinion. He tends to make excessive generalizations, but it's hard to avoid this in a thematic book. Minus a few errors, he seems to be well documented.

If you are an Italian film fan, don't expect to find anything new or original. Hughes never goes beyond what we can already read everywhere else. This book was intended as a guide for novice, and it serve this purpose adequately.

I think that Hugues included too many titles for a 300 page book. He was a bit too ambitious. For the Gialli chapter, covering approximately 25 pages, he explores more than 20 titles, with plot summary and cast information. This doesn't allow him to develop interesting ideas. I would have prefered longer discussion about fewer films. Some titles were also dispensable in such an intense overview (do we really need an half page dedicated to Cold Eyes of Fear?!).

Hughes panorama is complete but there is a huge hole in the middle: sex. Italian cinema from the 60ies upward was driven by eroticism. Thriller, comedies, dramas, period and even art house movies were all charged with sex. More than in any other country. The Giallo, for example, was first an "erotic thriller" (or "porno thrilling" according to the Italian newspaper of the era), and was sold as such. Hughes also totally bypass the erotic comedies of the 70ies, one of the most popular Italian genre. Steno, Edwige Fenech, Barbara Bouchet, Lino Banfi or Alvaro Vitali are not even mentioned!

I also believe that Hughes, like most English critics, over estimate the importance of Mario Bava. There's at least 20 pages dedicated to him in this 300 pages book covering 4 decades of Italian Cinema. It's just insane. Especially if many, extremely talented director, like Pupi Avati, Umberto Lenzi, Tonino Valerii, Tinto Brass or Francesco Barilli are totally ignored.

Mario Bava was a precursor, definitely, but his impact on the whole Italian cinema is exaggerated. The link between Bava and the italian thriller of the 70ies and 80ies is tenuous, if not totally artificial. The truth is only a few thousands Italians saw The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Blood and Black Lace. They were badly distributed, and by the end of the 60ies totally forgotten.
Trying to find a connection, like Hughes does, between the photography of Blood and Black Lace and the one of The Bird with Crystal Plumage, is unfounded. Vittorio Storaro's photography doesn't "resembles Bava's approach" neither "update Bava's Gothic style" (p. 230). No. They are just different in every way. In fact the young Argento is not influenced at all by Mario Bava. It's a different era, culture and way of working. If we can find a link it's not Bava himself, but the godfather of them all: Hitchcock.


Anyway, we all have a different opinion. What I was more disappointed about are the little errors here and there. I would forgive them in a book written 20 years ago, when information was sparse. But now that we can all verify everything online, I can't forgive this.


In the chapter concerning the Gialli:

"In the wake of Argento's success, Gialli fleetingly became the most popular genre at the Italian box office" (p.232)

This is just false. The Giallo was never successful at the Italian box office.  Argento is an exception. In fact the Giallo is one of the least successful Italian genre, way below westerns, comedies, peplums or crime movies. Most Gialli never entered the year TOP100. The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardth for example is #70 in the 1970 Italian Box Office. And this one of the most successful Gialli! The same year, the comedy Per Grazia Ricevuta was #1 and the western My Name is Trinity was #2. The Giallo was a lucrative genre - cheap to produce, easy to export - but it was never truly successful at the Italian box office.


"Deep Red, the longest, most convoluted and most brutally violent Italian giallo." (p. 238)

Deep Red might be the longest but it is definitely not the most convoluted, neither the most violent Giallo. Even in Argento's own filmography we can find more convoluted and violent films. Personally I find Deep Red surprisingly easy to follow for an Argento movie.


Deep Red... "score written by Giorgio Gaslini and performed by rock trio Goblin" (p. 239)

This is wrong. Giorgio Gaslini wrote a soundtrack but it was not used. The Goblin replaced him and wrote a new one, entirely original. They didn't "perform" any of the music written by Gaslini. "Rock trio" is neither accurate. They were at least 4 (Simonetti, Morante, Pignatelli, Marangolo + guest).


"Surprisingly in the early 1980s it was Tenebrae and Inferno that made into UK's "Video Nasty" list and not the more violent Suspiria and Deep Red" (p. 244)

Even if we all have a different idea of violence, Tenebrae is definitely more violent and cruel than Deep Red.


What Have They Done to Your Daughters?... "is a bloody, unsavoury film" (p. 238)

This film is maybe "unsavoury"... But "bloody"?!


I found similar approximations in every chapters. These are not big mistakes, but I think they could have been avoided. But I don't want to be too harsh. This is a nice guide, an impressive work,worth every £. It even include many full page poster B&W scan. It's in fact the best book about Italian cinema I had in my hand since a long time!

Go get it  :'(
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Ian Caunce

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I can't help feeling guilty about Howard's book. I've been ill for quite some time and didn't get the chance to supply Howard with all the illustrations he needed. He had to resort to ones I'd supplied for his other books. The end result, which Howard enivisaged, wouls have been a profusely illustrated book, more expensice obviously, that would have been far better than the excellent one he provided. Sorry Howard.
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Paul

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Currently reading this - its very good so far...
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Nello Pazzafini

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back when was reading it I enjoyed although there is not much inside what was new for me. Somehow not enough background info for italian film fanatics, on the other side too much for beginners, but oh well, there was just too much happening over the decades in Italia!
I didn´t like the misspelled names like Armando TRAVAJOLI of Giancarlo GIANNI, this should not happen on a book like this....
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JAMIOUSE

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I've just finished Chapter 1, despite not been a fan of peplum I have an overwhelming desire to track down as many Hercules, Maciste, Ursus and Goliath dvds as possible!
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