Italo documentary plays more like a DVD special feature than a proper documentary.
Italo docu “Hollywood on the Tiber,” by journo-turned-helmer Marco Spagnoli, plays more like a DVD special feature than a proper documentary. Nominally looking at the influx of filmmaking Yanks in the Italian capital in the ’50s and ’60s, the, pic is largely reduced to showing pretty pictures of familiar faces set to a loud, eclectic soundtrack, with the v.o. narration, in headache-inducing run-on sentences, offering little guidance. Pic’s best bet is as film-channel filler.
Only using archival material from co-producer Istutito Luce, Spagnoli splices together B-roll material from sword-and-sandal epics shot at Cinecitta, countless arrivals at swanky premieres, Tyrone Power’s Roman wedding, Ingrid Bergman talking about her kids in Italian, and Sergei Bondarchuk on the set of “Waterloo.” The title is a misnomer, as the pic looks beyond Rome, with especially the Venice fest (justly) highlighted as having played an important role in acquainting U.S. filmmakers with Italy. Frenetic editing, which reaches more than 20 cuts a minute, makes it hard to contextualize or enjoy a lot of the footage; film buffs would do better to check out Luce’s impressive — and free — online archive.