Riccardo Freda

Riccardo Freda (b. 1909, Alexandria, Egypt; d. 1999, Rome) began studying at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia, Rome, and working as art critic for Il popolo di Lombardia in 1933. In 1937 he began writing screenplays for Eduardo De Filippo, Gennaro Righelli and Raffaele Matarazzo. His directorial debut film was Don Cesare di Bazan (1942). From the start he saw that action and popular entertainment films would be his genre, a conviction that would earn him disdain by critics. Even at the highpoint of the neorealist movement he continued making films about mythical heroes taken from literature: Return of the Black Eagle (1946) was based on a short story by Pushkin; I miserabili (1948) was based on Hugo’s Les Miserables; both featured Gino Cervi, the latter a young Marcello Mastroianni; and The Iron Swordsman (1949). In the 1950s he turned to making science-fiction-horror films, a genre which was gaining popularity at the time: The Vampires (1957) and Caltiki, the Immortal Monster (1959). Two films of note from the 1960s are: The Horrible Secret of Dr. Hitchcock (1962) and The Ghost (1963) featuring Barbara Steele. These were followed by an eclectic variety of genres (spy thriller, mythical epic, crime) in all of which Freda demonstrated his professional handling of the subject: The Giants of Thessaly (1961), Maciste in Hell (1962), Trap for the Assassin (1966), FX-18 Superspy (1966). His last film was Murder Syndrome (1981); his memoirs (Divoratori di celluloide) were published in 1981.

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