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.

Hollywood on the Tiber



A Cinecitta Luce, Studio Universal presentation and production. (International sales: Cinecitta Luce, Rome.) Produced by Luciano Sovena, Luca Federico Cadura. Directed, written by Marco Spagnoli.


Camera (B&W archival); editor, Patrizia Penzo; music, Pivio, Aldo De Scalzi. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Controcampo Italiano), Sept. 8, 2009. Original title: Hollywood sul Tevere. Italian, English dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.


Louis Armstrong, Lauren Bacall, Brigitte Bardot, Ingrid Bergman, Ernest Borgnine, Claudia Cardinale, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Collins, Sean Connery, Tony Curtis, Salvador Dali, Bette Davis, Dino De Laurentiis, Vittorio De Sica, Walt Disney, Ella Fitzgerald, Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Charlton Heston, Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra, Alberto Sordi, Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, Alida Valli, Monica Vitti, Orson Welles. Narrator: Daniela Cavallini.

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