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Article on cinema by De Santi published in peer-reviewed journal
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Article on cinema by De Santi published in peer-reviewed journal

Dr. Chiara De Santi

Dr. Chiara De Santi of the Department of World Languages and Cultures wrote an article recently published in the Italian peer-reviewed journal Cinema e storia (Cinema and History).

The article, “L’americanizzazione negli anni Cinquanta tra 'Roman Holiday' e 'Un americano a Roma' [Americanization in the 1950s between 'Roman Holiday' and 'Un americano a Roma']” (Vol. V, 2016: 97-110), appeared in the volume edited by Elena Dagrada, University of Milan, on the “Anni Cinquanta – Il decennio più lungo del secolo breve” (“1950s – The Longest Decade of the Short Century”).

Extensive research conducted by Dr. De Santi in Italy in the summer of 2015, as well as primary sources concerning Paramount Studios from the archives of the Margaret Herrick Library, Beverly Hills, Calif., is reflected in the article. The theoretical framework is grounded in history, film studies and literary theory.

In particular, the article examines the Americanization of Italy at the beginning of the 1950s as it was conducted through Hollywood films. In the 1950s, the American strategy in Europe was to promote the “American way of life” and, consequently, to impose a cultural and economic model that has often been labeled as Americanization.

The article specifically analyses the Americanization of customs and cinema as mocked in “Un americano a Roma” (“An American in Rome,” 1954), where some of Hollywood cinema’s narrative formulas are dismantled and reconstructed in different forms, by parodying certain films in self-referential terms and from the perspective of Italian cinema, whose identity seems threatened by the fascinating spiral of Americanization.

From this viewpoint, the article examines “Un americano a Roma” as a response to “Roman Holiday” (“Vacanze romane,” 1953) by William Wyler and as a critique of his picturesque and postcard-like Rome, so distant from post-World War II Italian reality. In this dialogue between the two films, the article also clarifies the political and cinematographic events that brought Mr. Wyler to Italy during the McCarthy era and that involved two important Italian screenwriters, Suso Cecchi d’Amico and Ennio Flaiano.

The article finally gives credits to the two Italians as the ones who, probably more than any others, contributed to the final script of “Roman Holiday,” notwithstanding the fact that their names don’t appear in the credits. Only a textual analysis and comparison of the available scripts will be able to conclusively establish the true genealogy of the script. That promises to be a further line of inquiry in De Santi’s ongoing scholarly examination of “Roman Holiday.”

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