White Squadron 

Plot

 

Lieutenant of cavalry Ludovici, a disappointment in love with Christian's girlfriend, he enlists in the military section of camel cavalry and assign in Italian Tripolitania. Come to the Fort in place of Ten. Bettini, fallen bravely in battle. Here must contend with Captain Santelia, officer from hard, but with great experience of the desert. When news of the presence of a band of rebels, the command decides to send a squadron to their pursuit. The column, led by two officers, tackles a shipment of many days in the deep desert. After the first day's March Lieutenant Ludovici, mislaid by cumbersome environmental conditions and his melancholy thoughts, suffers a severe reprimand by the captain, convinced that Ludovici's just a spoiled young man with no real military vocation. In the days after the column, facing water shortages and sandstorms, continues the Chase, and Ludovici, although exhausted and in pain, resistant to stress. Identified and joined the rebels after a hard marches at apace, is engaged a fierce battle in which Captain Santelia and "mehari" El Fennek, Yeoman Ludovici, killed. Then Ludovici leading the column in March to return to base. Here he finds himself unexpectedly Christian, arrived at the Fort with a group of tourists, which you declare regret leaving him and asks him to return with her. But Ludovici refused, responding that she belongs there, under the command of the troops in the desert. Following the recall of Captain Santelia, whose last wishes were to be buried in the desert, which he so loved.

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White Squadron is based on the novel published in 1931 by Joseph Peyré, first in a series by French writer at Desert Adventures The Éscadron blanc, awarded in France with the Prix Renaissance, followed several other novels, up to the Sahara in 1955, which was changed the ending, as in the short story the Lieutenant starring dies during the mission. This is the first major film that Augusto Genina made his way on his return to Italy after more than a decade of film work spent in Germany and France.

 

 

The film essentially masculine, in which are set against the decline of feminine, urban and bourgeois society and the regeneration of the desert, without having to sacrifice and camaraderie, white Squadron took some time for choosing interpreters. After a selection that had covered, among others, Mino Doro, Marcello Spada and Camillo Pilotto, the choice fell on Antonio Centa, presented on this occasion as avant-garde Brescia in 1921 and author of the March on Rome, which already had played some roles, but without ever getting to the notoriety that would have gotten the movie by Genina. Another interpreter, Fosco Giachetti, had been until then a theatrical actor and was selected by the Director who saw him perform at the Teatro Argentina.

 

White Squadron is part of that category of films that, given their nature essentially propagandist, although linked to strong values showmanship, has experienced a striking contrast between the ratings received at the time and those retrospectives. "Even the most respected critics has been observed-and participated in 1936, considered to be the most independent a chorus of praise, using images, adjectives, rhetoric, laziness and approximation of fascism." The first expression of these enthusiastic evaluations took place on the occasion of the presentation of the film in Venice. Cut during the prior examination in ministerial office as it was considered to be too long, the film was presented at the exhibition in a "before" which took place on the evening of 20 August 1936 in the presence of a huge audience, about three thousand people, in which there were several foreign representatives and some members of the Royal family. White Squadron received, as they narrate the Chronicles, final Ovation with cheers and praise from critics. «A film truly worthy of being Italian-so wrote La Stampa, a strong and virile (...) the environment of our camel Cavalry, the life of that Squadron become the real protagonists where the desert confuses her Baartman with those of heaven;beautiful pages are several and often offer us the true cinema nobly intended».

 

 

 Film notes

 

Title: Lo squadrone bianco

Country of origin: Italy

Year: 1936

Duration: 99 min

Color: Black/White

 Audio: Sound

Genre: Drama

Directed By: Augusto Genina

Screenplay: Augusto Genina, Gino Valori, Gino Rocca

Executive Producer: Eugenio Fontana

Production company: Roma Film

Photography: Anchises Brizzi, Massimo Terzano

Editing: Fernando Tropea

Music: Antonio Veretti

Art Director: Jessie Faulkner

Costumes: Vittorio Accornero de Testa

 

 

Actors

 

Fosco Giachetti

Antonio Centa

Guido Celano

Olinto Cristina

Cesare Polacco

Nino Marchetti

Loris Gizzi