Comedy and Humour, Stereotypes and the Italian Migrant in Mangiamele’s Ninety Nine Per Cent
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Giorgio Mangiamele is regarded as the most significant first generation Italo-Australian filmmaker of the post-war period. Yet, in spite of his “pioneering efforts” and his attempts to be accepted into Australian mainstream cinema by adopting English dialogue and Australian characters in many of his films, he remained to an extent marginalised as an “ethnic” filmmaker, achieving recognition and some government financial support only towards the end of his life. In this study, I will explore an avenue of criticism suggested, in particular, by film critic Quentin Turnour (2001). Giorgio Mangiamele, the critic argues, “needs to be remembered […] as maybe one of our first art filmmakers”. The focus of the study will be Ninety Nine Per Cent, Mangiamele’s only film regarded as comic and the only one that was acquired by ABC Television, and supposedly screened only once (never screened in Victoria). A reading of the filmic text reveals one of the reasons for the lack of success and moderate acceptance: behind its comic veneer the film is quite sad and gloomy. It will be argued that Giorgio Mangiamele has sought to express his feelings and the social and historical conditions of his time using a combination of stereotypical imagery and the uniquely Italian (Sicilian) kind of humour theorised by philosopher and playwright Luigi Pirandello in his essay “L’umorismo”.