The famous Italian director Mario Monicelli died Nov. 30, 2010. He was being treated in a hospital in Rome when he tragically ended his own life by jumping from the fifth-story. He was being treated for terminal prostate cancer. Monicelli was born on May 15, 1915, and was 95 when he died.
Monicelli was noted on BBC news as an “Italian cinema great.” His film comedies created a style unique to Italian filmmakers known as Commedia all’Italiana, or Comedy Italian Style. This style is a fusion of irony, comedy, and cynicism. His career spanned 72 years with over 60 films to his credit. He had won several film awards. His satirical style was recognized for addressing social concerns which opened new avenues for the possibilities of film as a functional art form.
Possibly his best known film to American audiences is “Big Deal on Madonna Street.” Its American release was in 1958. The literal translation from the Italian title is “The Usual Unknown Perpetrators.” This term has been changed and used in several films, most notably “Casablanca.” Many of our movies today include styles and references to early filmmakers such as Monicelli — a fact not always recognized by mainstream film audiences.
Another famous Monicelli film in America is “An Average Little Man” from 1977. This film extends his ironic comedy style to psychological drama. In the film, a man’s morals are challenged when tragedy strikes. The character seeks revenge on his son’s killer, and is forever changed for the worst. The film was produced by Auelio De Laurentis, a nephew of the film great Dino De Laurentis.
Mario Monicelli worked with several famous actors, including Sophia Loren. He was also known for helping actor Marcello Mastianni begin his career. Mastianni was an actor in several Fellini films who may have been a more popular director than Monicelli for his neorealist style, a style whose groundwork was laid by Monicelli.
He leaves behind him a legacy of legendary filmmaking. In his films, he set a standard for satire. The films included politically and socially discordant undertones. Through these films, Mr. Monicelli gave a voice to the working class, people often overlooked in a fascist government. Monicelli’s films may have been a direct response to the propaganda movies made by Mussolini supporters. American movie goers are indebted to Monicelli, one of the film industry’s pioneers.
Italian cinema great Mario Monicelli kills himself
Mario Monicelli, Italian Director, Dies at 95