Keywords: Early Sound Film; Ettore Petrolini; Cines-Pittaluga; Cinema and Theatre; Vaudeville.
This essay is dedicated to the Cines-Pittaluga feature film Nerone (1930). Starring the comedian Ettore Petrolini and directed by a young Alessandro Blasetti, this film has until now played a secondary role in the historiography of the first sound films. Drawing from new documents, the essay aims to overturn this perception, pointing out in Nerone the convergence of at least two design trajectories. One such trajectory is to be ascribed to the Cines leadership, which was at the time keen on experimenting with economically virtuous forms of inter-media interactions, such as the brand-new Variety theatre; the other is linked to Petrolini's attempt to construct a well-rounded portrait of himself for posterity, a construction in which cinema itself was to participate.