The history of Titanus covers over a century in the history of Italian cinema. Having abandoned his law studies, Gustavo Lombardo, a young twenty year old Neapolitan, launched himself into the recently born movie industry as a film distributor in southern Italy between 1904 and 1905. The enterprise thus born would establish itself in time as the major Italian cinematographic company. Thanks to his intuition and to his meeting with Leda Gys, one of the most famous actresses in Italian silent cinema, he started his film productions, initially in Naples and afterwards in Rome. And it was in Rome that he founded Titanus, which established itself shortly as the trade-mark of Italian cinema par excellence.
After slowing down during the II World War, production activity resumed with the melodrama Catene by Raffaello Matarazzo (1948). At the beginning of the Fifties, Titanus management passed from Gustavo to his son Goffredo, who had been urged by his mother to follow in his father’s footsteps. Goffredo showed himself to be a very capable producer as well, allowing Titanus to come through the storms rocking the movie sector unscathed. Making popular low-cost films, which were however very successful with audiences (Pane, amore e fantasia, Poveri ma belli, Alvaro piuttosto Corsaro, Totò lascia o raddoppia… ), allowed him to invest in auteur cinema: in fact Lombardo produced works by established authors like Visconti, Fellini and De Santis as well as first-time directors such as Olmi, Petri, Zurlini and Tornatore. This double track allowed Titanus to maintain a high standard in quality without constantly risking failure, which happened instead to several Italian production companies. In the mid Sixties, Titanus nevertheless had to face great financial difficulties due to two concurrent onerous projects, not compensated by the income expected: Sodom and Gomorrah (Robert Aldrich, 1962) and The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963). In spite of producing spectacular films, Lombardo was not able to overcome this crisis and he gave up his real estate in order to save Titanus. He continued his activity, also thanks to a deal with Edison, the largest Italian electricity company, concentrating especially on distribution and, subsequently, producing fiction for television.