[alberto] Cavalcanti


Director

About

Also Known As
Alberto De Almeida-Cavalcanti, A Cavalcanti
Birth Place
Rio de Janeiro, BR
Born
February 06, 1897
Died
August 23, 1982

Biography

Designed sets for French experimental filmmakers in the 1920s and directed his first film in 1926, the experimental city symphony "Rien que les heures." Cavalcanti moved to England in 1934, making documentaries and later documentary-influenced features at Ealing Studios before returning to Brazil in 1949. His best British features show considerable stylistic flair; working within the tra...

Biography

Designed sets for French experimental filmmakers in the 1920s and directed his first film in 1926, the experimental city symphony "Rien que les heures." Cavalcanti moved to England in 1934, making documentaries and later documentary-influenced features at Ealing Studios before returning to Brazil in 1949. His best British features show considerable stylistic flair; working within the traditions of British realism, he nonetheless brought surrealistic touches to the genuinely odd wartime drama "Went the Day Well?" (1942) and his striking contributions to the classic anthology horror film, "Dead of Night" (1945). The latter film showcased Cavalcanti's occasional penchant for the expressionistic, which was highlighted in his masterful foray into film noir, "They Made Me a Fugitive" (1947).

Upon his return to Brazil, Cavalcanti helped set up, and headed, Vera Cruz Studios. His attempt to forge a new Brazilian Cinema, free of American dominance, was sabotaged when he was denounced as a communist. The model for the studio as well was also perhaps too influenced by Hollywood paradigms to succeed in another culture and without sufficient bankrolling. Despite losing his job Cavalcanti managed to make several more films, most impressively the bitter and lyrical "Song of the Sea" (1954). Upon returning to Europe he directed the highly regarded "Herr Puntilla und sein Knecht Matti" (1955), co-written with Bertolt Brecht.

Though Cavalcanti's is a genuine talent and a significant contribution to world cinema, the diversity of his interests has lessened the impact of his career as a whole. The fact that he worked in so many countries and in so many languages by itself means than his oeuvre has been little studied; though many of his individuals films deservedly remain highly respected, Cavalcanti himself has thus far eluded the writings of standardized, often limited, film histories.

Life Events

1926

First medium-length film as director (also writer; producer; editor), "Rien que les heures"

1927

Feature directing, co-writing and editing debut, "En rade"

1934

Moved to England and began working for John Grierson at GPO Film Unit

1937

Succeeded Grierson as head of GPO (name changed to Crown Film Unit at outbreak of WWII)

1940

Moved to Ealing Studios

1950

Returned to Brazil

1955

Returned to Europe

1968

Began teaching at UCLA

Videos

Movie Clip

Dead of Night (1945) - The Christmas Party Sally (Sally Ann Howes) slips away from precocious Jimmy (Michael Allan) then discovers a frightened youth in The Christmas Party segment, directed by (Alberto) Cavalcanti, story by Angus MacPhail, from Dead of Night, 1945.
Dead of Night (1945) - Maxwell Frere Twisted ventriloquist Maxwell Frere (Michael Redgrave) has a climactic conversation with his dummy Hugo, observed by psychologist Sylvester Kee (Hartley Power) in "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" from the spooky English anthology Dead of Night, 1945.
Feu Mathais Pascal (1925) - Whom She Secretly Admires Ivan Mosjoukine (title character) has a chance encounter with Romilde (Marcelle Pradot) who, we suspect, is the beloved of his clownish friend Pomino (Michel Simon), in Marcel L’Herbier’s film from the Pirandello novel, Feu Mathias Pascal, a.k.a. The Late Mathias Pascal, 1925.
Feu Mathais Pascal (1925) - No More Bets Title character (Ivan Mosjoukine), a novice on a roulette run at Monte Carlo, ignoring the advice of a gambler (Georges Terof) who advised him to bet on 12, in Feu Mathias Pascal, a.k.a. The Late Mathias Pascal, 1925, directed by Marcel L’Herbier, from the novel by Pirandello.
Feu Mathais Pascal (1925) - Work Means Liberty Formerly affluent Ivan Mosjoukine (title character) arrives for his first day of work at the municipal library, sets by future director Alberto Cavalcanti, in Marcel L’Herbier’s film from the Luigi Pirandello novel, Feu Mathias Pascal, a.k.a. The Late Mathias Pascal, 1925.
Went The Day Well? (1942) - Fifth Column In England Mrs. Fraser (Marie Lohr) hosts Hammond and aide (Basil Sydney, John Slater), who are secretly Nazis, with traitor Willsford (Leslie Banks), the vicar (C.V. France) and Nora (Valerie Taylor), who puzzles over news from Mrs. Collins (Muriel George), in Went The Day Well?, 1942.
Went The Day Well? (1942) - Battle Of Bramley End Unique opening and premise, Mervyn Johns recounts the not-then-secured victory over Germany, in a fictional Worcestershire town, locals Tom, Peggy and Ivy (Frank Lawton, Elizabeth Allan, Thora Hird) introduced, in the Ealing Studios yarn of a Nazi invasion, Went The Day Well?, 1942.
Went The Day Well? (1942) - What Does Wien Mean? English vicar's daughter Nora (Valerie Taylor) flips when George (Harry Fowler) finds Austrian chocolate in the kit of the visiting army major, who really is a Nazi, but has no idea her confidante Willsford (Leslie Banks) is helping him plot an invasion, in Went The Day Well, 1942.
They Made Me A Fugitive - Listen, Mata Hari! Framed convict Clem (Trevor Howard) gets a visit from Sally (Sally Gray), the former girlfriend of his former partner, seeking common ground, in They Made Me A Fugitive, 1947, directed by (Alberto) Cavalcanti.
They Made Me A Fugitive - Narcissus And Morgan Freelance criminal Narcy (Griffith Jones) at the bar finds de-mobbed R-A-F man Clem (Trevor Howard) and his date Ellen (Eve Ashley), early in They Made Me A Fugitive, a.k.a. I Became A Criminal, 1947.
They Made Me A Fugitive - Those Motherly Ideas Second part of an otherwise stand-alone scene, escapee Clem (Trevor Howard) with housewife (Vida Hope) who took him in, hoping he could help with her husband (Maurice Denham), in They Made Me A Fugitive, 1947.
Nicholas Nickleby (1947) - His Poor Relations Uncle Ralph (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) introduces his impoverished niece Kate (Sally Anne Howes) to the outlandish Mantalinis (Cyril Fletcher, Fay Compton), who owe him money, in Nicholas Nickleby, 1947, from Ealing Studios.

Bibliography