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Film / The Italian

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The Italian is a 1915 film directed by Reginald Barker. Beppo is a gondolier in Venice. He is in love with Annette, but her father won't let them get married until Beppo makes enough money to support her. Beppo sails to America, where he sets up a shoeshine stand while getting a side job turning out the Italian vote for Corrigan, an Irish political boss. Eventually, he sends for Annette to join him. They get married and have a baby they name Tony, but their happiness is disrupted when Tony catches a fever during a New York heat wave.

The Italian is startlingly sophisticated for a film made in 1915. It has a place in the National Film Registry.

Not to be confused with the Gothic Horror novel by Ann Radcliffe.


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Tropes:

  • An Immigrant's Tale: Italians living hardscrabble existences in the slums of New York City.
  • Brain Fever: This non-specific condition is what's wrong with Corrigan's daughter, per the newspaper.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Two young lovers are kissing in Beppo's gondola. He gets distracted watching them and crashes the gondola, thus pitching himself into the canal.
  • Downer Ending: Weeping at the grave of your dead baby? Yep, that's a downer.
  • Framing Device: A seemingly pointless one in which lead actor George Beban, apparently playing himself, is shown at his home reading a novel called The Italian. Then the story, with Beban playing the lead character, takes place. Then the film ends with Beban-as-Beban finishing the book.
  • Funetik Aksent: Beppo's Italian accent is rather awkwardly rendered via title cards.
    "I must get-a-de-milk or my babee is die."
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  • Infant Immortality: Averted, as little Tony dies from the heat and a lack of access to pasteurized milk.
  • Police are Useless: Or worse than useless. No cops are insight when Beppo is mugged and robbed of the money he needs for Tony's milk. But when he sees the muggers and attacks them, he's arrested.
  • Red Herring: An older merchant in the town also wants Annette's hand. It seems like a setup for Arranged Marriage or Star-Crossed Lovers or some other complication to Beppo and Annette's romance. In fact, the merchant is irrelevant to the plot, as Beppo and Annette get married.
  • Revenge by Proxy: After Corrigan refuses to help Beppo and Beppo's son dies as a result, Beppo sets out to kill Corrigan's little daughter.
  • Wedding Day: Beppo and Annette get married, alcohol is drank, and Beppo has to make a panicked dash to the jeweler's after realizing he forgot the ring.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: A huge newspaper headline and article proclaims that Corrigan's daughter is ill.
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