Friday, November 12, 2010

Dino De Laurentiis has died

One of the greatest producers in film history died yesterday at the age of 91. The word "amazing" is overused and abused nowadays, but Dino De Laurentiis was the real thing. Born in humble Torre Annunziata, near Naples and within sight of Mount Vesuvius, he made a professional and personal life for himself that was legendary. He participated in the birth and heydey of Italian cinema, with his signature mix of high and lowbrow entertainment and everything in between. Highlights of his Italian career were Fellini's La Strada and the excellent Nights of Cabiria.

When things were no longer to his liking careerwise in Italy, he had the gumption to move to the United States in 1972, at the age of 53, knowing little or no English. From there he produced films that were very different from his Italian movies (and very different from each other): from Serpico to Conan the Barbarian.

He also lived intensely in his private life, with a marriage to famed actress Silvana Mangano, a late-life (71) remarriage to producer Martha Schumacher, and various kids and grandkids, including well-known nipotina Giada De Laurentiis, the successful chef and TV personality.

The clip is taken from Steno's 1954 Un americano a Roma, in which wannabe American Alberto Sordi tries to replace red wine and spaghetti with milk and some made-up Yankee dish. He quickly gives in to the call of the spaghetti, which must have amused De Laurentiis, the son of pasta-makers.

For more on this little dynamo, see his Imdb entry (includes complete filmography).