Muscling the Nation: The Maciste Films of Italian Silent Cinema

Thursday, September 17, 4-6 p.m.

Room 222

Innis College, 2 Sussex Avenue


Bio: Jacqueline Reich is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.  She is the author of The Maciste Films of Italian Silent Cinema (Indiana UP, 2015) and Beyond the Latin Lover: Marcello Mastroianni, Masculinity, and Italian Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2004). She is also co-author, with Catherine O’Rawe, of Divi italiani (Donzelli, 2015) and co-editor with Piero Garofalo of Re-viewing Fascism: Italian Cinema, 1922-1943 (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2002).  She also curates the book series New Directions in National Cinemas for Indiana University Press.


Italian film star Bartolomeo Pagano’s Maciste, born in the canonical Cabiria(1914) and then star of his own highly successful series of films, played a crucial role in Italian cinema’s narrativization of a unified national identity before, during, and after World War I for both a national and international audience. His heroic narratives aligned him with pressing national and political imperatives, including Italy’s intervention in World War I, modernization, the birth of Fascism and its colonial aspirations.

My talk follows the distribution and exhibition of Maciste’s first three films to the United States, where Maciste/Pagano came to be billed as the Douglas Fairbanks of Italian cinema. Maciste (1915) and Maciste alpino (1916), released in the United States respectively as Marvelous Maciste (1916) and The Warrior (1917), were major successes from coast to coast, as attested to by the blanket coverage the films received in the press. Maciste’s transatlantic passage reveals how foreign feature films were marketed and mobilized to support national policies during World War I. They celebrated the wartime alliance between Italy and the United States as they interacted with the popularity of the American serial, the war film and the film star.


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