Toth Database - Cinema

The White Squadron



Cavalry lieutenant Ludovici, following a love disappointment with his fiancée Cristiana, enlists in the Meharist military corps and is assigned to Italian Tripolitania. He arrives at the fort to replace Lieutenant Bettini, who fell valiantly into battle. Here he has to deal with Captain Sant'Elia, an officer with harsh ways, but of great desert experience. When news of the presence of a band of rebels comes, the command decides to send a squadron in pursuit. The column, led by the two officers, faces a many-day expedition into the deep desert. After the first day of the march Lieutenant Ludovici, lost by the difficult environmental conditions and his melancholy thoughts, suffers a severe reprimand from the captain, convinced that Ludovici is only a spoiled young man without a real military vocation. In the following days the column, facing water shortages and sandstorms, continues the chase, and Ludovici, although exhausted and suffering, resists the effort. Identified and joined the rebels after a hard march in forced stages, a bitter battle is engaged in which Captain Sant'Elia and the "mehari" El Fennek, ludovici's attendant, are killed. Ludovici will then lead the column in the return march to the base. There he unexpectedly finds Cristiana, who has arrived at the fort with a group of tourists, who declares regrets leaving him and asks him to return with her. But Ludovici refuses, replying that his place is now there, in command of the troops in the desert. It follows the memory of Captain Saint Elijah, whose last will was to be buried in the desert, much loved by him.


The white squadron is based on a short story published in 1931 by Joseph Peyré, the first in a series dedicated by writer French to desert adventures (in L'Éscadron blanc, awarded in France with the Prix Renaissance, several other novels followed, until Sahara in 1955), of which the ending was modified, since in the story the leading lieutenant dies during the mission. It was the first major film augusto genina directed on his return to Italy after more than ten years of film work in Germany and France.


The white squadron was awarded the Mussolini Cup for best Italian film, preferring it to Cavalleria.

After the Venetian recognition, Lo squadrone bianco was a great success not only in Italy, as it became at that time one of the most popular Italian films abroad. In fact, in addition to France, where the film, with a dubbed version, remained uninterrupted for six months in a cinema room on the Champs Élysées, it was screened with positive results in Germany, London, Brussels, Oslo and two tokyo cinemas, as well as in several Latin American countries with strong Italian communities. The film was also distributed by "Hesperia" in the United States and, particularly in New York, it remained on display for some time in two Broadway theaters, obtaining favorable criticism in the New York Times.These successes gave Freddi the opportunity to boast the new course of Italian cinema of which he had been the creator, claiming that he had "abandoned the middle-class concept of a production made exclusively in view of the narrow internal market".

The white squadron has become in general judgment one of the "excellent examples of propaganda films, in which ideological and political rhetoric was supported, and therefore particularly effective, by a style of considerable dramatic force". Genina's film "intended to enhance the dedication and spirit of sacrifice of Italian officers who put love for the homeland and defense of the conquered lands of Africa before their private affairs". Lands that are represented "as a virgin place where you can redeem and build a new life"



Film notes



Title: The White Squadron

Country of production: Italy

Year: 1936

Duration: 99 min

Color: B/N

Audio: Sound

Genre: Dramatic

Director: Augusto Genina

Screenplay: Augusto Genina, Gino Valori, Gino Rocca

Executive Producer: Eugenio Fontana

Production company: Roma Film

Photograph: Anchise Brizzi, Massimo Terzano

Editing by Fernando Tropea

Music: Antonio Veretti

Set design: Guido Fiorini

Costumes: Vittorio Accornero de Testa





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