The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America

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Univ of California Press, Jan 15, 2019 - Performing Arts - 352 pages
At publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, University of California Press's Open Access publishing program. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.

In the post–World War I American climate of isolationism, nativism, democratic expansion of civic rights, and consumerism, Italian-born star Rodolfo Valentino and Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini became surprising paragons of authoritarian male power and mass appeal. Drawing on extensive archival research in the United States and Italy, Giorgio Bertellini’s work shows how their popularity, both political and erotic, largely depended on the efforts of public opinion managers, including publicists, journalists, and even ambassadors. Beyond the democratic celebrations of the Jazz Age, the promotion of their charismatic masculinity through spectacle and press coverage inaugurated the now-familiar convergence of popular celebrity and political authority.

This is the first volume in the new Cinema Cultures in Contact series, coedited by Giorgio Bertellini, Richard Abel, and Matthew Solomon.
 

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Contents

Nothing Like Going to an Authority
1
Popular Sovereignty Public Opinion and the Presidency
17
Cultural Nationalism and Democracys Opinion Leaders
37
Wartime Film Stardom and Global Leadership
56
The Divo NewStyle Heavy
83
The Ballyhooed Art of Governing Romance
114
Stunts and Plebiscites
145
Promoting a Romantic Biography
165
National Leader International Actor
198
Conclusions
227
Archival Sources
235
Selected Primary Sources
297
Index
303
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

Giorgio Bertellini is Professor of Film and Media History at the University of Michigan. He is the author and editor of the award-winning volumes Italy in Early American Cinema: Race, Landscape, and the Picturesque and Italian Silent Cinema: A Reader.

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