'The Italian': Early 'American Nightmare' Drama

George Beban in The ItalianThe Italian: George Beban plays an Italian immigrant whose American dream quickly derails into a nightmare of poverty and despair

 

George Beban (right) was a renowned stage and vaudeville star. Even though he never became a major film name, Beban appeared in nearly 20 films from the mid-1910s to the mid-1920s, almost invariably in the role of an Italian. His first feature film, in fact, was quite succinctly called The Italian.

Directed by the respected Reginald Barker (among whose credits is the 1916 William S. Hart vehicle The Aryan), The Italian depicts the plight of an Italian immigrant who arrives in the Land of Plenty only to find poverty, heartbreak, and death (no, not his own).

A not uncommon theme for the socially-conscious 1910s, The Italian is a cinematic American Nightmare that is universes away from the idealized American Dream stories of the Golden Age of the studio system. The reason for that is, perhaps, that U.S. film audiences in the 1910s included millions of immigrants, many of whom could relate to the plight of Beban's social outcasts.

Also surprising is The Italian's modern feel, from Reginald Barker's subtle direction and Clara Williams' amazingly naturalistic performance (as The Italian's wife) to George Beban's restrained and fully believable portrayal of a man crushed by his dreams.

The Italian (1915). Dir.: Reginald Barker. Scr.: Thomas H. Ince and C. Gardner Sullivan. Cast: George Beban, Clara Williams, J. Frank Burke

'The Italian': Early 'American Nightmare' Drama © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about ''The Italian': Early 'American Nightmare' Drama'

COMMENTING RULES:

Don't waste time and energy disagreeing with and/or being deeply offended by the presentation of factual information.

On the other hand, it's perfectly okay to disagree with and/or, if you're so inclined, to be deeply offended by the views & opinions (and/or likes & dislikes) found on this site. And to let us know about any omissions or, heaven forbid, errors.

Just bear in mind that *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative.

In other words: Feel free to add something reasonable & coherent – AND fact-based – to the discussion.

Abusive/bigoted, trollish/inflammatory, baseless (spreading misinformation, whether intentionally or not), spammy, and/or just plain deranged comments will be zapped and offenders may be banned.

And finally, links found in comments will generally be deleted.

Most recent comments listed on top.