A Hero Has Fallen

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Say what you will about cinematographers, but they’re literally responsible for what we see in movies. Ultimately, save for a few choice lines, it is these images we remember most from the classic films we cherish.

It was the cinematographer’s use of a soft lens in critical close-ups that told more of Ilsa Lund’s backstory in Casablanca than any flashback could. We see a hint of it when she first enters Rick’s Café Américain, a popular casino. There, she’s introduced to Captain Renault.

But it is the extended close-up when Ilsa asks Sam to “play it for me.” There, the lens embraces the wholesome beauty of Ingrid Bergman and the sweet alluring yet Continue Reading “A Hero Has Fallen”

Declaration of (Italian) American Independence

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“They all laughed at Christopher Columbus/When he said the world was round…” So begins the lyrics of Ira Gershwin for brother George’s 1937 composition “They All Laughed.” The Gershwins wrote the song for the movie Shall We Dance, starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Frank Sinatra famously included the tune in his masterpiece Trilogy album, where he sings the closing lyrics “Who’s got the last laugh now?” with a knowing wink.

From Christopher Columbus to Frank Sinatra, it’s clear that Italians and Italian-Americans have had a tremendous impact on America. Over the next three weeks, we’ll focus on those names history books seem to have neglected.

Did you know Italian-Americans played a prominent role in the founding of America? For example, three of the first five American warships were named after Italians. These were Continue Reading “Declaration of (Italian) American Independence”