Toth Database - Cinema

Department Stores




Country of production : Italy

Year : 1939

Duration: 85 min

Genre: Sentimental Comedy

Director : Mario Camerini

Subject: Mario Camerini, Ivo Perilli

Screenplay: Mario Camerini, Mario Pannuzio, Ivo Perili, Renato Castellani

Producer: Giuseppe Amato

Photograph: Anchise Brizzi

Editing : Mario Camerini

Music: Alessandro Cicognini, Giovanni D'Anzi, Cesare Bixio

Set design: Guido Fiorini



Actors and characters 



Vittorio De Sica : Bruno Zecchi

Hesse Noris: Lauretta Corelli

Enrico Glori : Bertini

Luisella Beghi: Emilia

Virgilio Riento : Gaetano

Milena Penovich : Anna

Andrea Checchi : Maurizio

Mattia Giancola : Anna's brother

Nino Crisman: Warehouse Inspector

Dhia Cristiani: Sales woman

Aldo Capcci: Young man from the elevator

Alfredo Petroni: Director of department stores 

Dino de Laurentis : Bellboy







At the Department Store there are some thefts and the chief of staff accuses a saleswoman, blackmailing her in exchange for sexual favors. The girl, engaged to a driver, however, is innocent: it turns out that behind the thefts there is precisely the man who blackmails her, at the head of a gang of petty criminals. 



The comedy according to Camerini




Department stores, the new film by Mario Camerini, was screened tonight in the first vision at the Exhibition, in the presence of Minister Alfieri and Dr. Goebbels, with great success. From the memorable Men, what rascals... Camerini films have always figured in Venetian competitions as one of the safest guarantees for our colors.... Open-scene applause and laughter... claps that renewed with equal and festive fervour at the address of Hesse Noris, present in the hall. Camerini, held back by processing commitments in Rome, could not come." In the year in which the Mussolini Cup is attributed to the propaganda Abuna Messias, the "reserved and modest" Mario Camerini, the director whose "... relations with the fascist regime, although marked by an apparent tolerance, masked a fundamental irreconcilibility", continues to be the flagship of Italian cinema Epilogue of "small-bourgeois pentalogy" (after Men, who scoundrels... of 1932, Darò un milione from 1935, But it's not serious. (1936, Mr. Max of 1937) Department stores expresses the director's full maturity in his original (originality partly shared with Alessandro Blasetti) approach to sophisticated comedy. Far from the usual white telephone cinema (or "Hungarian comedy" or "Italian way to the Déco") populated with countess, men in tuxedos, young typists to whom a lucky love with the main opens the doors to happiness and wealth, Camerini brings cinema "into a real world... of employees, store orders" anticipating according to some the neorealist comedy.


It is therefore no coincidence that, having dissolved his partnership with Mario Soldati, he avails himself in this period of the collaboration with the script and as an aid / director of Renato Castellani, one of the prominent figures of the post-war renewal. All within the director's artisanal conception, his vision of cinema as a competition of different professionalism, is the role played by the scenography, entrusted to Guido Fiorini, with Gastone Medin and Carlo Enrico Rava, one of the great art directors of Italian cinema of the 1930s and 1940s. This is the case for the original architecture of department stores (bridges, elevators), as well as for the functionality of the narrative. For example, the mannequins (already recalled in the opening credits), one of which, playfully built to imitate the features of the driver Guido, the protagonist, suddenly parading in front of Lauretta, holds her from his suicidal purpose, introducing a grotesque note in the skilful dosage of ingredients, from pochade, to humor, to action, which characterizes the film. 




Paolo Oietti writes in the pages of Film of August 19, 1939: "Camerini's films impeccable always, His scripts do not make a wrinkle, everything flows clear and clear and the story convinces as if we had experienced it ourselves. We dare to say that if Camerini is wrong, he is wrong just when he, the director on tiptoe, rests his whole foot on the ground, with all the strength of his body. That Glori - Scarpia is good, but it's out of the color of the movie. And it is not Glori's fault, of course, but that moment of hand a little too heavy".





In one of the film's opening scenes, Lauretta (Hesse Noris) and Emilia (Luisella Beghi) are about to get into Bertini's car (Enrico Glori) parked next to a wall full of posters. In at least two of these, Noris herself is recognizable. Especially note the poster of the film Pounding (1939), whose direction is still by Camerini.