Italian Americans and Cinema

Authored by: Giuliana Muscio

The Routledge History of Italian Americans

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415835831
eBook ISBN: 9780203501856
Adobe ISBN:


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The most obvious approach to this subject would have been to discuss the representation of Italian Americans in cinema, but a vast bibliography already deals with this issue. Instead, in this chapter, the diasporic community will be cast in an active role, focusing on the cinema Italian Americans have made. The analysis is not limited to Italian American films made after the 1970s—again a topic that has received extensive attention—it also reconstructs a past that has been ignored. There were Italian American film directors in Hollywood in silent cinema: Robert Vignola, Gregory LaCava, Frank Borzage (Borzaga) and Frank Capra. And there were actors: from the important role played by Enrico Caruso in the cultural legitimation of American silent cinema, to Rudolph (Rodolfo) Valentino. Others included Frank Puglia, who made his debut as a co-protagonist in Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm (1921), Cesare Gravina (von Stroheim’s favorite performer), Paul Porcasi, Eduardo Ciannelli, Jack La Rue (Gaspare Biondolillo) and Henry Armetta. There were important directors of photography (Tony Gaudio and Sol Polito), art directors (Albert D’Agostino, Gabriel Scognamillo) and music composers, from Salvatore Guaragna (better known as Harry Warren), the author of the songs “Lullaby of Broadway” and “That’s Amore,” to Henry Mancini: and many others, in different capacities.

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