On September 13, 2018, Giorgio Bertellini gave a talk at the Berkeley Film and Media Seminar about his forthcoming monograph, The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America (University of California Press, January 2019).
In his latest monograph, Bertellini seeks to document and analyze an inaugural moment of today’s much discussed convergence of political and celebrity culture. He uncovers practices of public opinion management that in 1920s America gave political relevance to Italian-born Hollywood actor Rudolph Valentino and popular appeal to the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Amidst the period’s remarkable expansion of consumerism and mass entertainment, these two foreign stars’ popularity, together with their widely-promoted fiction and non-fiction films, were made to challenge the revered ideals of direct democracy and free consumers’ choice in favor of mass consensus for charismatic male leadership.
The monograph will inaugurate the new University of California Press book series, Cinema Cultures in Contact, which Bertellini edits with UM Professors Richard Abel and Matthew Solomon.