The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916)

Drama | 3 April 1916

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HISTORY

The opera was also referred to as Masaniello . The Dumb Girl of Portici marked legendary ballerina Anna Pavlowa's screen debut. The film was made in Chicago and Los Angeles at an estimated cost of $300,000. The Ballet Russe was involved in the production. According to modern sources, Boris Karloff made his screen debut as an extra in this film.
       Before the general April release, a series of premieres began in late 1915. The film was released in lengths varying from seven to eleven reels. Along with being Universal's most expensive film up to that time, it was the first major epic by a woman director. Lois Weber used innovative tracking and dolly shots during battle scenes. One of the locations was Castle Sans Souci, an estate at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Argyle in Hollywood, CA, which was torn down in the late 1920s. The Santa Monica, CA, beach and the Universal Studios backlot were also used.
       The Dumb Girl of Portici was featured at the Twenty-Second Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival on 2 Jun 2017. ... More Less

The opera was also referred to as Masaniello . The Dumb Girl of Portici marked legendary ballerina Anna Pavlowa's screen debut. The film was made in Chicago and Los Angeles at an estimated cost of $300,000. The Ballet Russe was involved in the production. According to modern sources, Boris Karloff made his screen debut as an extra in this film.
       Before the general April release, a series of premieres began in late 1915. The film was released in lengths varying from seven to eleven reels. Along with being Universal's most expensive film up to that time, it was the first major epic by a woman director. Lois Weber used innovative tracking and dolly shots during battle scenes. One of the locations was Castle Sans Souci, an estate at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Argyle in Hollywood, CA, which was torn down in the late 1920s. The Santa Monica, CA, beach and the Universal Studios backlot were also used.
       The Dumb Girl of Portici was featured at the Twenty-Second Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival on 2 Jun 2017. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motog
26 Jun 15
p. 1046.
Motog
10 Jul 15
p. 60.
Motog
31 Jul 15
p. 192.
Motog
1 Jan 16
p. 91.
Motog
6 Nov 15
p. 946.
MPN
12 Feb 16
p. 822.
MPW
22 Apr 16
p. 640.
MPW
20 May 16
p. 1391.
New York Times
4 Apr 1916
p. 11.
NYDM
15 Apr 16
p. 28.
Variety
7 Apr 1916
p. 21.
Wid's
13 Apr 1916
p. 500.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
WRITER
Scen
ART DIRECTOR
Tech dir
MUSIC
Mus accompaniment arr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the opera La muette de Portici , music by Daniel François Esprit Auber, libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne (Paris, 29 Feb 1828).
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 April 1916
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Film Mfg. Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 January 1916
Copyright Number:
LP7436
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
7-11
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During the seventeenth century, the Duke d'Arcos levies another onerous tax on the workers, who begin talk of a rebellion. Disguised as one of them, Alphonso, the duke's son, goes among the common people to gauge their feelings and falls in love with Fenella, the dumb girl of Portici, a small Italian village. He visits her frequently, but then breaks her heart when he marries Elvira, a woman from his own class. Meanwhile, the duke keeps levying taxes, and the people select Fenella's brother Masaniello as their leader and successfully storm the duke's palace. The duke's forces, led by Alphonso, stage a counterattack. During the fighting, Masaniello lunges at Alphonso with his sword, but Fenella, to save the man she still loves, jumps between them and dies in his place, after which her grief stricken brother kills ... +


During the seventeenth century, the Duke d'Arcos levies another onerous tax on the workers, who begin talk of a rebellion. Disguised as one of them, Alphonso, the duke's son, goes among the common people to gauge their feelings and falls in love with Fenella, the dumb girl of Portici, a small Italian village. He visits her frequently, but then breaks her heart when he marries Elvira, a woman from his own class. Meanwhile, the duke keeps levying taxes, and the people select Fenella's brother Masaniello as their leader and successfully storm the duke's palace. The duke's forces, led by Alphonso, stage a counterattack. During the fighting, Masaniello lunges at Alphonso with his sword, but Fenella, to save the man she still loves, jumps between them and dies in his place, after which her grief stricken brother kills himself. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.