/ 11 November 2010

Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis dies aged 91

Dino De Laurentiis, producer of some of Italy’s best-known films including works by Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini, has died in Los Angeles aged 91, Italian media reported on Thursday.

De Laurentiis, who was born on August 8, 1919 in Torre Annunziata near Naples, also produced several well-known films in the United States including “Three Days of the Condor” with Robert Redford after he moved there in the 1970s.

He started out in film aged 20 and became one of the leading producers of Italy’s post-war cinema boom and the famous neo-realist genre.

One of the films he produced was “Riso Amaro” (“Bitter Rice”) by Giuseppe De Santis, a 1949 classic seen as one of the finest examples of neo-realism.
De Laurentiis was born the son of a pasta manufacturer in Torre Annunziata in Campania, Italy in August 1919. He enrolled in film school around 1936, supporting himself as an actor, extra, propman, or any other job he could get in the film industry.

His persistence paid off, and by the time he was 20, he had already produced one film.

After serving in the Italian army during World War Two, De Laurentiis went back into film production, and scored a critical and commercial international hit with Riso Amaro (1949) (“Bitter Rice”). He later married its star, Silvana Mangano.

Major Italian films
De Laurentiis eventually formed a partnership with producer Carlo Ponti, and the team had a string of hits, including several by director Federico Fellini, including “La Strada” (1954) and “The Nights of Cabiria” (1956) – both winners of best foreign film Oscars.

After the partnership dissolved, De Laurentiis embarked in 1957 on a plan to build his own studio facilities, which would enable him to make the kind of massive spectacles he
wanted to make. The studio complex, called Dinocitta’, eventually was forced to close down due to a combination of hard times in the Italian film industry and a string of flops by De Laurentiis himself.

Later, he opened up a film production complex in Wilmington, North Carolina, called DEG Studios, but again in 1988 was eventually forced by economic conditions to sell that, too after the company filed for bankruptcy.

De Laurentiis, the man responsible for “Flash Gordon”, also oversaw “Serpico”, “Casanova” and “Death Wish” as well as the “King Kong” remake – “Barbarella” with Jane Fonda and the successful “Blue Velvet” and the box office hit “Hannibal”. — Reuters