14 December 2017

Ciceruacchio (1915)

During the First World War, several countries started to make propaganda films. In Italy, Tiber Film produced the historical propaganda film Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915).

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: Among the turmoil of political passions and among the whispers of a heart overwhelmed by the idea of the Fatherland, he then passed his life.

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: The opulent Papal Court. Ciceruacchio (Gastone Monaldi) with Pius IX.

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: A sweet dream that became even sweeter reality.

Intended to raise anti-Austrians sentiment

Ciceruacchio/Martire del piombo austriaco (Martyr of Austrian bullets, 1915) was an Italian historical film by Emilio Ghione, dealing with victims of the Austrian occupation of Italy. The film was intended to raise anti-Austrians sentiment during the First World War when the Northwest part of Italy - the present province of Friuli - was still under Austrian occupation.

Ciceruacchio passed censorship on 22 June 1915, while a week earlier, on 18 June 1915, the film had its first night in Rome. Reputed stage actor Gastone Monaldi, famous for his dialect acting, played the lead of Ciceruacchio, and his partner Fernanda Battiferri played Annetta. Alberto Collo played their son. Ida Carloni Talli played as usual the mother, Brunetti’s mother in this case.

Angelo Brunetti, named Ciceruacchio, a Roman trader in cheese and wine, was much beloved by the Roman people, e.g. for his behaviour during the 1837 cholera plague. In a public performance in 1846 he thanked the pope Pius IX for releasing political prisoners, while in 1847 he pressed Pius IX to continue his policy of reform.

During the 1848 revolution he joined the Roman Republican forces and helped the Romans in the siege by the French. But when they were defeated in 1849, he fled with his sons Lorenzo and Luigi and hoped with Garibaldi and allies to liberate Venice from the Austrians. Instead they were betrayed by locals at Cesenatico and then arrested and executed by the Austrians on 10 August 1849.

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: People of Rome! Do you want to bend to slavery by the stranger? No! Do you want to swear with me to die for freedom? Yes! Yes!

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: The whole city is on fire; only the old and proud Trastevere still resists.

Little fat man

Emilio Ghione was a regular actor for Cines, Celio and Caesar in Rome, before he started to direct films in 1914. For a long time he was most remembered for his Za-la-Mort crime films at Tiber Film, in which he had the lead too. At Tiber he also made various - commissioned - historical propaganda films during the First World War, such as Oberdan (1915) starring Alberto Collo, and Ciceruacchio (1915).

Ciceruacchio (1915) was scripted by Emilio Calve. The plot mostly follows history. The papal police suspects Brunetti, aka Ciceruacchio (meaning little fat man), but when Pius IX hears about Brunetti's bravery during a flood, he gives him a special audience. Brunetti henceforth considers the pope Rome's saviour, while his republican friends think otherwise.

When the pope flees to Gaeta during the revolution, leaving the city to foreign oppressors, Cicueracchio becomes Rome's new leader, but he has to flee after the last stronghold, Trastevere, is conquered. He is betrayed and arrested in Rovigo, and executed with his son Luigi (Alberto Collo). In the film, Ghione suggests Brunetti was killed with only his eldest son, while in reality both sons and also several allies of Brunetti were killed with them.

Later, the story of Ciceruacchio would be filmed again in In nome del popolo sovrano (1990) by Luigi Magni, in which Nino Manfredi performed Brunetti. Ciceruacchio was also recreated in Camicie rosse (1952) by Goffredo Alesandrini and Francesco Rosi and returned in the recent mini-series Anita Garibaldi (2012).

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: The arrest of Angelo Brunetti named Ciceruacchio and his son. Gastone Monaldi as Cicueracchio and Alberto Collo as his son Luigi.

Italian postcard for Ciceruacchio (Emilio Ghione, 1915). Photo: Tiber Film. Caption: The most coward spirit of the Austrians, our eternal enemies, like always and still does confirm its cowardice.

Source: Denis Lotti (Emilio Ghione. L’ ultimo apache - Italian), Wikipedia (Italian) and IMDb.

13 December 2017

Suzanna Leigh (1945-2017)

On 11 December 2017, blonde British actress Suzanna Leigh (1945-2017) passed away. She was known for her film and television roles in the 1960s and 1970s, including Hammer horror films and a Hawaii musical with Elvis Presley.

Suzanna Leigh (1945-2017)
Spanish postcard by Postal Oscar Color S.A., Hospitalet (Barcelona), no. 592.

Costumed as Madame Du Barry

Suzanna Leigh was born Sandra Eileen Anne Smith in 1945 in Belgrave (some sources say Berkshire), England. Her father was an auto engine manufacturer and professional gambler. Her mother’s a millionaire property developer. Her father died when she was six.

Leigh grew up in Berkshire (some sources say Belgravia, London), and later went to convent schools outside London. She began working in films while still a child, appearing as an extra in British productions. These included the romantic comedy The Silken Affair (Roy Kellino, 1956) starring David Niven and Geneviève Page, and the fantasy-musical Tom Thumb (George Pal, 1958). 7

She changed her name to Suzanna Leigh after entering film, after actress Vivien Leigh. A few years later, she was the star of the 13-episode French TV series, Trois étoiles en Touraine (Maurice Régamey, 1966), which every week featured Leigh, her racing car and a different male lead.

Planning to attend London's Opera Ball, costumed as Madame Du Barry, Leigh had a sedan chair made, along with costumes for five footmen who carried it (and her) through the streets of the city. American producer Hal B. Wallis saw newspaper photos of Leigh's elaborate stunt and imported the 20-year-old blonde to Hollywood.

Leigh's American film roles included a stewardess in the American bedroom farce Boeing Boeing (John Rich, 1965) starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis, and the love interest of Elvis Presley in Paradise, Hawaiian Style (Michael D. Moore, 1966). In 1966 her US career hit a snag when the Hollywood and English acting guilds got into a tangle, and she returned to England.

Elvis Presley, Suzanna Leigh
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Paradise, Hawaiian Style (Michael D. Moore, 1966) with Elvis Presley and Suzanna Leigh. Collection: Veronique3.

Richard Johnson (1927-2015)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Deadlier than the male (Ralph Thomas, 1967) with Richard Johnson and Suzanna Leigh.

The Kate Winslet of her Day

Back in England, Suzanna Leigh became the frail heroine in a couple of Hammer films such as The Lost Continent (Michael Carreras, 1968) with Eric Porter and Hildegard Knef, and Lust for a Vampire (Jimmy Sangster, 1971).

She also starred in the cult horror films The Deadly Bees (Freddie Francis, 1966) and The Fiend (Robert Hartford-Davis, 1972) with Ann Todd. In 1974 she starred as Amber in the musical comedy Son of Dracula (Freddie Francis, 1974) starring Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr.

Hester Lacey called Leigh in The Independent "the Kate Winslet of her day: a beautiful, feted young British actress who made it big in Hollywood. She lived a champagne lifestyle, mixed with the beautiful people and drove a Rolls Royce. She was presented to the Queen at a Royal Command Performance."

She met Tim Hue-Williams, to be the father of her daughter, Natalia, at Ascot in 1972. This led to a 10-year relationship which ended when Hue-Williams deserted her for a rich heiress, his best friend's fiancee, when Leigh was four months pregnant.

Her heydays were over and after a long and painful divorce, she retired to a small rented flat in a London suburb, with her daughter Natalia and her sheltie dog Sukie. She worked as an interior designer, gave etiquette lessons and sold the Encyclopedia Britannica at Heathrow Airport.

In 2000, she published the autobiography, Paradise, Suzanna Style. In 2015, she was a featured player in the American film, Grace of the Father (De Miller, 2015).

In September 2016, Suzanna Leigh was diagnosed with ‘stage-four’ liver cancer and she died on 11 December 2017.

Trailer Boeing Boeing (1965). Source: Classic Airliners & Vintage Pop Culture (YouTube).

Trailer Lust for a Vampire (1971). Source: kaijindaigo (YouTube).

Sources: Hester Lacey (The Independent), Tom Weaver (IMDb), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia and IMDb.

12 December 2017

Hermann Brix

Hermann Brix (1912-1982) was an Austrian actor and theatre and radio play author. Between 1939 and 1944 he starred in many Terra films. He should not be confused with the American actor Herman Brix (a.k.a. Bruce Bennett).

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2995/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Baumann / Terra.

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3230/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Terra Film.

Unknown Mother

Hermann Brix was born in Innsbruck, Austria (then Austria-Hungary) in 1912. He studied German and medicine first, took acting lessons after that, and in 1936 he debuted on stage in Prague. Later he got an engagement at the Münchner Kammerspiele in Munich.

Brix became well-known as a film actor in German cinema during the war years, mostly at Terra-Filmkunst. He probably started his film career in the Terra-production Opernball/Opera Ball (Géza von Bolváry, 1939) with Paul Hörbiger.

This first film appearance was soon followed by Maria Ilona (Géza von Bolváry, 1939) in which he played Emperor Franz Joseph opposite Paula Wessely. After the premiere of tis film in Vienna, he signed a contract with Terra Film in Berlin.

For Terra, Brix appeared in such films as Die guten Sieben/The Lucky Seven (Wolfgang Liebeneier, 1940) starring Johannes Riemann, and Alarm auf Station III/Alarm on station III (Philipp Lothar Mayring, 1939) starring Gustav Fröhlich.

Slowly, his parts became bigger as in Falschmünzer/Forger (Hermann Pfeiffer, 1940), Der Herr im Haus/The Landlord (Heinz Helbig, 1940) starring Hans Moser, Sein Sohn/His Son (Peter Paul Breuer, 1941), and Dreimal Hochzeit/Three times wedding (Géza von Bolváry, 1941) with Marte Harell and Willy Fritsch.

Brix had his first lead in Die Kelnerin Anna/The Waitress Anna (Peter Paul Breuer, 1941) as a young music student in Salzburg, who doesn’t know that the local waitress (Franziska Kinz) who takes so much care of him is his mother.

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no A 3331/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick / Terra.

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3591/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Terra.


Hermann Brix played a band leader in the disaster drama Titanic (Herbert Selpin, 1943), and a police commissioner in the spy story Die goldene Spinne/The Golden Spider (Erich Engels, 1943).

He appeared as Eva Maria Meineke’s lover in the comedy Moselfahrt mit Monika/A Trip on the Mosel with Monika (Roger von Norman, 1944). The film was completed in 1944, but submitted to Filmprüfstelle in October 1944, and it was eventually released in 1952.

His last wartime performance was in the romantic comedy Der Meisterdetektiv/The master detective (Hubert Marischka, 1944) with Georg Alexander.

After the war Brix worked only twice as a film actor. In 1947 he appeared in the French-Austrian comedy Les amours de Blanche Neige/The Loves of Snowwhite (Edi Wieser, 1947). Three years later he played the lead in the comedy Die Erbschaft aus Amerika/Luck from Ohio (Heinz Paul, 1950).

Rudi Polt at IMDb suggests that Brix  was more interested in stage theatre and radio. He returned to his birth town Innsbrück where he wrote stage and radio plays.

From 1966 on he taught drama at the Universität Innsbruck and was manager of the Studiobühne. Among his pupils were Dietmar Schönherr, Axel Corti, and Volkmar Parschalk. He also directed several plays at the Tiroler Landestheater.

Hermann Brix died in Innsbruck in 1982. He was 70.

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2693/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick/Terra. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3331/2, 1941-1944. Photo: Quick/Terra. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Hermann Brix
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2564/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann/Terra. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Sources: Rudi Polt (IMDb), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos),, Wikipedia (German) and IMDb.