Monday, November 29, 2010

Farewell to Monicelli

Please join me in bowing your head in memory of the great Mario Monicelli, who bade this world farewell today.

Best-known for BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET, he began his career writing comic screenplays with his longtime associate Steno, directed the first Italian film in color (TOTO A COLORI) and wrote and directed numerous comedies, two of which were shot by Mario Bava (VITA DA CANI, GUARDIA E LADRI). He was actively directing as recently as 2006, when he made a feature with Bava's grandson Roy working as his assistant director.

Today, at age 95, Monicelli leaped to his death from his Roman hospital window, a few days after being admitted for prostate cancer.

1 comment:

  1. Just seen this, Tim...although I've been aware of Monicelli's fate some 90 minutes after it happened. If I had to choose my favorite Italian movie, or my favorite foreign comedy, or the funniest film I've ever seen...my choice would fall on I SOLITI IGNOTI. I saw Monicelli several times strolling around Venice during the 61st Film Festival held in September 2004 but I chickened out of approaching him for a talk or even autographing my Italian DVD copy of IGNOTI I purchased while there! Although I loved that movie so much, I didn't feel I had the right to impose on him - firstly, because he was virtually 90 and, secondly, because even though I was aware of his other movies, I hadn't seen too many of them yet! His fearsome reputation as one who didn't suffer fools gladly also held me back...but, frankly, watching various interview clips of him on Italian TV these past few days, he didn't seem to be as irascible or cantankerous as he was made out to be! Like all the other Italian film people I saw or met in Venice (Brass, Castellari, Deodato, Lenzi, E. Margheriti, Martino, Sacchetti, Vivarelli, etc.), I've been catching up on a lot of their movies the last six years...and, obviously, Monicelli is no exception. In fact, I have accumulated some 18 'new' films of his in the interim - including some of his earliest (VITA DA CANI and GUARDIA E LADRI), most famous (LA GRANDE GUERRA and L'ARMATA BRANCALEONE) and most intriguing (TOH, E` MORTA LA NONNA! and UN BORGHESE PICCOLO PICCOLO); perhaps ominously, NONNA was shown on Italian TV the day before its director's death! I've always prided myself of having Mario Bava as my namesake...but I'm pretty sure that, after getting through all these movies, I'll be just as proud to have been (hypothetically) named after Monicelli!

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